Will Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s Baby Alter the Line of Succession?

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are expecting! The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will welcome their first child in the spring of 2019, and everybody’s excited. After all, who doesn’t love a royal baby?! We have so many questions, many of which probably won’t get answered anytime soon. We don’t know whether they’re expecting a boy or a girl. We aren’t sure what names they’re considering. And we aren’t 100% positive how far along Meghan is or when the baby is due, though the BBC reports that she’s probably about 12 weeks pregnant.

There’s another interesting question, however, that we do know a little more about. Where will Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s baby fall in the line of succession to the British throne? And will he or she change that line of succession? Here’s what we know.

The baby will be seventh in line to the throne

Time reports that Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s baby will be seventh in line to the throne. Even if that means that the baby is unlikely to become king or queen — just like Prince Harry — that’s still a pretty enviable spot. The new baby will bump Prince Andrew, the second son of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, into eighth place in the line of succession, Time points out. Plus, Andrew’s daughters, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie (who just got married), will fall to ninth and tenth place.

But Meghan and Harry’s child will be behind cousins Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis because their father is older than Harry and second in line to the throne. As Time reports, the new line of succession will go:

  1. Prince Charles
  2. Prince William
  3. Prince George
  4. Princess Charlotte
  5. Prince Louis
  6. Prince Harry
  7. Harry and Meghan’s baby
  8. Prince Andrew
  9. Princess Beatrice
  10. Princess Eugenie

The child’s gender won’t matter

We don’t know yet whether Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are expecting a boy or a girl. But either way, the baby’s “gender won’t come into consideration in the line of succession, unlike in times gone by,” Time reports. In 2013, Parliament passed a law enabling the line of succession among siblings to be determined by age, rather than gender. Previously, an older sister would end up behind her younger brother in the line of succession. But that didn’t happen to Princess Charlotte when Prince Louis was born.

As Cosmopolitan reports, that means that if Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have a girl in the spring, and a boy in the future, their son would not take precedence over their daughter. “So, if the Duke and Duchess of Sussex welcomed a daughter, she could one day wear the crown herself.”

The baby won’t automatically be a prince or princess

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry | Victoria Jones – WPA Pool/Getty Images

As the BBC reports, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s baby will be a first cousin to Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis, the children of Prince William and Kate Middleton. But the new royal baby won’t be a prince or princess — at least not unless Queen Elizabeth II steps in to grant them the title before the birth. Royal biographer Robert Hardman told the BBC that the child would be a lord or lady, “like the children of any other duke,” because Prince Harry isn’t in the direct line of succession.

However, Metro points out that though Harry and Meghan’s baby won’t be a prince or princess upon birth, Queen Elizabeth II could change the rules. As of 1960, only the children or the grandchildren of the sovereign — via the male line — can take the title prince or princess. However, Queen Elizabeth II has allowed Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis, her great-grandchildren, to take the titles, too.

As Metro notes, Harry and Meghan’s child would become a prince or princess when the line of succession changes as Prince Charles ascends to the throne. But the queen could also choose to make an exception to the rule for Harry’s child (or children) like she did with William’s.

Read more: Is Prince Charles Really Prince Harry’s Father? The Rumors, Explained

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