How does royal succession work? From legitimacy to religion and sex

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Royal succession, or the transition of monarchical power from one rule to the next, has not always been smooth in the UK or abroad. It has, however, served as a template for governments and monarchies around the world. Historically, based on rules like primogeniture, modern monarchies are changing the way power is passed down from generation to generation. takes a look at royal succession and how it works.

How does royal succession work?

First of all, to even be considered in line to the throne, you have to be a member of the royal family.

Other factors such as legitimacy, religion and sex all play an important role in determining the line of succession.

The original law of primogeniture stated that younger male heirs would be considered for the throne before their older, female siblings.

However, the law changed in 2013 meaning any older female born after October 28, 2011, can be considered first for the throne.

The basis for royal succession was determined in constitutional developments of the 17th century, which ended in the creation of the Bill of Rights and the Act of Settlement.

When King James II fled the country in 1688, Parliament concluded that he had “abdicated the Government”, therefore the throne was vacant.

The monarchy was then offered, not to King James’s youngest son, but to his daughter Mary and her husband, William of Orange, as joint rulers.

This event led to the idea that not only the Sovereign rules through Parliament but the succession to the throne could be regulated through Government.

It also determined a sovereign could be stripped of their title through misgovernment.

The Act of Settlement confirmed it was for Parliament to decide the title to the throne.

Parliament, under the Bill of Rights and the Act of Settlement, also laid down various conditions which the monarch must meet.

For example, someone who holds Roman Catholic faith was specifically excluded from the line of succession.

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The law states a monarch had to be in communion with the Church of England, therefore promising to uphold the Protestant succession.

The Act also said people who married Roman Catholics were disqualified from ever being eligible for royal succession.

However, the Succession to the Crown Act (2013) amended the rules of the Bill of Rights and the Act of Settlement, ending the provisions about marrying a Roman Catholic.

All of the changes came into effect in March 2015.

Who is currently in the line of succession?

The line of succession, in order, is as follows:

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge
Prince George of Cambridge
Princess Charlotte of Cambridge
Prince Louis of Cambridge
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex
Master Archie Mountbatten-Windsor
The Duke of York
Princess Beatrice of York
Princess Eugenie of York
The Earl of Wessex
Viscount Severn
The Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor
Princess Anne, the Princess Royal
Mr Peter Phillips
Miss Savannah Phillips
Miss Isla Phillips
Mrs Michael Tindall

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