Royal Succession: An Abridged Explanation

Jason Lo, In-Depth Writer

This month, a figurehead of the British Monarchy, and a pop culture icon, passed away. It has been over 70 years since the last time a royal succession occurred. What exactly is the protocol when a royal passes? Well, there are many things that occur when that happens.


According to the BBC, the Royal line, after the passing of Queen Elizabeth the first, would pass down to the heir apparent or her oldest son, Former prince and now King Charles the Third. After King Charles the Third, it will pass down to his oldest son which would be Prince William. After Prince William his children, George, Charlotte and Louis would surprisingly not inherit the throne; instead their Uncle, Prince Harry would receive it. 


The long history of succession has gone through many changes throughout the history of the United Kingdom. It first started off by being more informal than it is now. According to an article by, initially many rulers decided that their oldest son would take the throne after their death. However, this method was very disunified due to the illegitimacy that this entails. Many people would rush to claim the throne and due to the fact that there was no formal law in place, they would use force to take the throne. 


By the start of the 18th century, it was determined that the line of succession should be codified into law, due to how many fights there were for the throne. According to Historic UK, this includes, but is not limited to: the War of the Roses, where two opposing houses fought for the throne; the Lady Jane Grey incident, where the son of Henry the 8th, Edward the 6th, proclaimed that his cousin Lady Jane Grey would get the throne (but Mary the 1st took the throne and beheaded Lady Jane Grey); lastly, there was the English Civil War and Glorious Revolution, where anti-Royalist, Protestant, and Catholic Forces led almost a century of fighting for the throne. 


These events made the parliament, the United Kingdom’s governing body, pass a law that would dictate who exactly gets the throne. They established, according to the Royal family’s website, that only the protestant heir to Princess Sophia of Hannover would be eligible for the throne. In addition, the sons of the ruler would have priority over all daughters of the ruler. However, this priority has been abolished since 2013 for all heirs born after 2011. 


In conclusion, the royal succession has gone through great amounts of difficulties to get to the stability it has today. Many may not recognize this long yet interesting part of history that affects the future of the United Kingdom.