Think the US Presidential line of succession is confusing? Try keeping up with line of the succession to the British throne! At one point, there was a fair chance that Princess Anne, Queen Elizabeth‘s only daughter, could have become monarch. In fact, she was second in line to the throne at the time of her mother’s coronation. But she’s 12th in line these days, even though the line of succession was recently shuffled around. So Anne will likely stay a princess for the rest of her life and never wear the crown. (The poor thing!)
Queen Elizabeth had only two kids at the time of her 1953 coronation — Prince Charles, born in 1948, and Anne, born in 1950. But Anne’s rank in the line of succession started falling when Elizabeth and her husband, Prince Philip, welcomed Prince Andrew in 1960 and Prince Edward in 1964.
Charles, Andrew, the Queen, Anne, Edward, and Philip. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
“But wait!” you say. “That’s not fair! Annie was born before Andy and Eddie!” Quite right, but until recently, the British line of succession was beholden to male-preference primogeniture, a system in which a woman can only ascend to the throne if she has no living brothers and no legitimate descendants of her deceased brothers. That rule, which dates back to 1066, meant Anne came behind not just her siblings but also all of their children and grandchildren.
If it weren’t for one small stipulation, Anne’s position in the line would have risen with the Succession to the Crown Act of 2013, which went into effect in 2015. Among other revisions, that act replaced male-preference primogeniture with absolute primogeniture, a system in which the eldest child ascends to the crown before his or her siblings, regardless of the sex of that child. But the act stipulates that absolute primogeniture only applies to royals born after Oct. 28, 2011, according to Newsweek. So Anne is just simply out of luck.
But this Succession to the Crown Act does benefit Princess Charlotte, daughter of Prince William and Kate Middleton, granddaughter of Prince Charles, and great-granddaughter of the Queen. As we all know, William and Kate are expecting again, but little Charlotte can rest assured that if her incoming sibling is a boy, that boy will come behind her in the line of succession. When it comes to the British throne, the future is… more female than it was before, we guess?
Join our Facebook group for the latest updates on Kate Middleton, Prince William, and all things royal!