How Does the Royal Family Line of Succession Work?

The British royal family tree and the line of succession clearly defines who is set to inherit the throne from Queen Elizabeth II, who has held the throne for nearly 70 years. Her husband Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh died in April 2021 at 99, and he stood loyally by the queen’s side through the years. However, Philip wasn’t in line for the throne as he wasn’t born into royalty and only married into it. If you’ve tuned in to Netflix’s The Crown or stay updated on the real-life royal drama and would like to know about the royal family line of succession, read on to find out more about the royal hierarchy.

The royal family line of succession is complicated

Senior royals Meghan, Harry, William and Kate, who are part of the royal family line of succession, are standing together.
Meghan Markle, Prince Harry, Prince William, and Kate Middleton in London in 2018 | Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

It’s common knowledge that Charles, Prince of Wales is the first in the royal line to succeed the Queen Elizabeth. Charles is Queen Elizabeth’s eldest son and the first in line to the throne. In 1981, Prince Charles married Princess Diana. The royal couple welcomed two sons, William and Harry, making William the next successor to the throne. The British royal family tree continues to expand from there.

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge is second in line to the throne. He met his wife Kate Middleton (now Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge) in university, and had they three children: George, Charlotte, and Louis. Prince George of Cambridge is third in line to the throne after his father, Prince William, and grandfather Prince Charles.

Immediately after Prince George, his sister Princess Charlotte of Cambridge falls fourth in line to the throne, followed by their baby brother Prince Louis of Cambridge. In the rare event that the Cambridges fail to ascend to power, Prince William’s younger brother Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex will assume the throne as he is sixth in line. But, what happens when someone in the British royal lineage officially leaves the royal family?

When Prince Harry left royal family was he removed from the royal family line of succession?

The Duke of Sussex and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex welcomed their firstborn son Archie in 2019. Archie became seventh in line, and his sister Lilibet Diana took the eighth spot in succession. Royal correspondents said that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s decision to name their son Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor meant that they didn’t intend to bring up their son as a royal. Lilibet’s birth bumped her great uncle, Prince Andrew, Duke of York down a spot, and he currently sits at ninth in line.

Prince Andrew — Queen Elizabeth’s second-oldest son — has two daughters, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, who are 10th and 11th in line to the throne. Eugenie’s son August Philip Hawke Brooksbank, born in February 2021, follows his royal mother’s footsteps and becomes the 12th royal in line, which moves Queen Elizabeth’s youngest son Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex down a spot.

Queen Elizabeth’s three other children and their kids come next

The Earl of Wessex becomes the 13th in line to the throne, while his son James, Viscount Severn follows next in line after his father. Lady Louise Windsor, Prince Edward’s eldest child, comes in next after her younger brother James in the 14th position, followed by Anne, Princess Royal.

At the time of her birth in 1950, the Princess Royal was third in line to the throne but has since moved down the hierarchy to become the 16th royal in line to the throne. Peter Phillips is Princess Anne’s only son and the queen’s oldest grandchild.

He falls 17th in line, followed by his eldest child (the queen’s first great-grandchild) Savannah Phillips, who falls in 18th place. Savannah’s sister Isla Phillips follows closely as the 19th in line to the throne, while Zara Tindall, Princess Anne’s daughter, comes in at number 20.

Zara Tindall’s daughter Mia Grace, born in January 2014, becomes the 21st in line while her sister Lena Elizabeth follows as the 22nd royal in line to the throne. Both Lena Elizabeth and Mia Grace do not have royal titles and will both be known as Miss Tindall. Zara Tindall’s son Lucas is 23rd in the line of succession to the British throne.

RELATED: What Does the British Royal Family Tree Look Like and What is the Line of Succession to the Throne?