Queen Elizabeth II dies at 96: How the British royal line of succession changes

With Queen Elizabeth II's passing, the British royal line of succession changes.

September 8, 2022, 1:49 PM

LONDON -- With the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, there is a new line of succession to the British throne.

The queen's oldest son, Charles, has become king. And with his ascension to the throne, members of his direct family, including his sons Princes William and Harry, are now higher in the line of succession.

In general, succession falls to the first-born child of the heir and their children, followed by the next oldest sibling of the heir and their offspring and so on. That's why, for instance, Prince Charles' children and grandchildren are ahead in line of Charles' oldest brother, Prince Andrew, the Duke of York.

PHOTO: Queen Elizabeth II is joined by the Royal Family as they appear on the balcony of Buckingham Palace during the Platinum Jubilee Pageant outside Buckingham Palace in London, June 5, 2022.
Camilla Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince George, Prince William, Princess Charlotte, Prince Louis, and Kate Duchess of Cambridge appear on the balcony of Buckingham Palace during the Platinum Jubilee Pageant outside Buckingham Palace in London, June 5, 2022.
Jonathan Brady/AP

Other rules make the order more complicated.

Under British laws established in the late 1600s and early 1700s, the succession to the throne can be regulated by Parliament, which can remove monarchs for "misgovernment," according to the royal family's website.

In order to be king or queen, the sovereign must be in communion with the Church of England and must promise to uphold the Protestant succession.

In 2013, a law called the Succession to the Crown Act ended the centuries-old practice of a younger son superseding an elder daughter in the line of succession.

The act, which applies to royals born after Oct. 28, 2011, also ended the provisions by which those who marry Roman Catholics are disqualified from the line of succession. The changes came into full effect in March 2015.

As a result of the act, Princess Charlotte, the daughter of Prince William and his wife, Duchess Kate, is ahead in the line of succession over her younger brother, Prince Louis.

PHOTO: From left, Britain's Prince George, Kate Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Louis, Prince William and Princess Charlotte, arrive for a settling in afternoon at Lambrook School, near Ascot, England, Sept. 7, 2022.
From left, Britain's Prince George, Kate Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Louis, Prince William and Princess Charlotte, arrive for a settling in afternoon at Lambrook School, near Ascot, England, Sept. 7, 2022.
Jonathan Brady/Pool via AP

As a ruler, the British monarch serves as the head of state, within the limits of the constitution.

A new sovereign ascends to the throne upon the death of the previous monarch.

After the monarch's death, the Accession Council, a ceremonial body, is expected to meet at St. James's Palace in London as soon as possible to formally proclaim the accession of the successor to the throne and witness the statutory oath.

PHOTO: Buckingham Palace, Westminster, London, in 2015.
Buckingham Palace, Westminster, London, in 2015.
Heritage Images via Getty Images, FILE

If the monarch is still a child when succeeding to the throne, a regent is appointed to perform the royal functions until the monarch turns 18. The same can happen if the monarch is absent or incapacitated, according to the royal family's official website.

Here is the current line of succession to the British throne, as listed on the royal family's official website.

New royal line of succession
New royal line of succession
ABC News, Getty Images

1. Prince William, Duke of Cambridge

2. Prince George of Cambridge

3. Princess Charlotte of Cambridge

4. Prince Louis of Cambridge

5. Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex

6. Master Archie Mountbatten-Windsor

7. Miss Lilibet Mountbatten-Windsor

8. Prince Andrew, Duke of York

9. Princess Beatrice of York (Mrs. Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi)

10. Miss Sienna Mapelli Mozzi

11. Princess Eugenie of York (Mrs. Jack Brooksbank)

12. Master August Brooksbank

13. Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex

14. James, Viscount Severn

15. The Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor

16. Anne, Princess Royal

17. Mr. Peter Phillips

18. Miss Savannah Phillips

19. Miss Isla Phillips

20. Zara Tindall (Mrs. Michael Tindall)

21. Miss Mia Tindall

22. Miss Lena Tindall

23. Master Lucas Tindall

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