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Succession Plans for the British Monarchy

The line of succession to the British throne is the ordered sequence of all those people eligible to succeed to the United Kingdom and the other 15 Commonwealth realms. Historically, the throne passes from monarch to eldest son; however, recent legislation might see a change in the succession line. HM Elizabeth II has been the reigning monarch since 1952. To date, Charles, Prince of Wales is recognized as the heir apparent.

[Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/Sung Kuk Kim 2013]
Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/Sung Kuk Kim 2013

Who is the heir apparent to the British throne?

Charles, Prince of Wales is next in line to the throne as the eldest son of HM Queen Elizabeth II. He will not be King until his mother abdicates, retires or dies. Prince Charles may choose to either take the throne or abdicate.

Who is next in line to the throne after Prince Charles?

Should Prince Charles decide to abdicate, or give up claim to the throne, he may pass the throne unto his eldest son, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge. Due largely to his advancing age and previous infidelity and divorce from Britain’s sweetheart, the late Diana, Princess of Wales; Prince Charles may not be the best choice for King due to popularity with the British people as they tolerate the expensive and dying monarchy. It is widely assumed that Prince Charles will give up his claim to the throne to pass it to his eldest son.

Prince William is not only second in line to the throne as the eldest son of Prince Charles, but also the first son of Diana, who is still widely held in esteemed reverence by the British well past her death.

Prince William’s marriage to a commoner and upstanding, yet approachable demeanor has made him a favorite around the world and is regarded to be the savior of the dying tolerance for the monarchy.

Who is in line after Prince William?

In the surprising circumstance Prince William abdicates the throne, the next in line for succession would be his heir(s), male or female. His wife, Katherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, is currently pregnant and due to deliver in the Summer of 2013.

As his heir(s) would be too young to rule, the throne would pass to William’s younger brother, Prince Henry of Wales, commonly known as Prince Harry, until William’s heirs are of age to rule. Should Prince Harry abdicate, the throne would pass to his uncle, Prince Andrew, the Duke of York.

How is succession of the British Monarchy determined?

The British succession plan is regulated by four elements: Bill of Rights (1689), Act Settlement of 1701, Royal Marriages Act and common law. The succession is ordered by male-preference cognatic primogeniture, or a male-born heir will inherit the throne first, even if he has elder sister(s).

The rules of eligibility are that he or she is a legitimate heir of Electress Sophia of Hanover and that he or she has never been a Roman Catholic or has never married a Roman Catholic.

What is the chance that the British succession plan will change?

The Succession to the Crown bill recently discussed in Parliament could greatly affect the line of succession post-Prince William. The bill would apply to the descendants of the current Prince of Wales, Charles, rather than the descendants of HM Queen Elizabeth II.

Commonwealth leaders agreed to changes to the succession rules in October 2011. Among the changes, the ban on Roman Catholics would be lifted and a law to end male precedence in the line of succession.

These changes do not have the support of the heir apparent, Prince Charles for the far-reaching affects they would have on the monarchy and the Church of England.

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