What to know about the British royal line of succession

The line of succession has changed with the ascension of King Charles III.

What to know about the British royal line of succession
Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
May 6, 2023, 9:41 AM

LONDON -- With the death of Queen Elizabeth II and the ascension of King Charles III, there is a new line of succession to the British throne.

Elizabeth's first-born, Charles, became king after she died on Sept. 8, 2022. Charles was officially crowned during his coronation at Westminster Abbey in London on May 2. And as he takes his place on the throne, members of his direct family, including his sons Princes William and Harry, are now higher in the line of succession.

The royals appear on the Buckingham Palace balcony during the Coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla on May 6, 2023 in London.
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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, Charles' children and grandchildren are ahead in line of his oldest brother, Prince Andrew, the Duke of York.

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.

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.
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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 of Wales, the daughter of William, Prince of Wales, and his wife, Catherine, Prince of Wales, is ahead in the line of succession over her younger brother, Prince Louis of Wales.

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.

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.

Buckingham Palace, Westminster, London, in 2015.
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Here is the current line of succession to the British throne, as listed on the royal family's official website.

1. William, Prince of Wales

2. Prince George of Wales

3. Princess Charlotte of Wales

4. Prince Louis of Wales

5. Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex

6. Prince Archie of Sussex

7. Princess Lilibet of Sussex

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, Duke of Edinburgh

14. James, Earl of Wessex

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