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As the second person in line to the throne, Prince William will not inherit the crown until his father, Prince Charles, is gone. But what would happen in the event that Charles, who is now 70 years old, passed away before Queen Elizabeth? Here’s a quick look at exactly what would happen if the Prince of Wales dies before Her Majesty.

Prince Charles Queen Elizabeth Prince William
Camilla Parker Bowles, Prince Charles, Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip, Prince William, and Kate Middleton | Photo by Dominic Lipinski-WPA Pool/Getty Images

Inside the royal line of succession

The rules for the royal line of succession are fairly straight forward, though there are several factors to consider when picking the next King or Queen of England.  According to Insider, ancestry plays the most important part of the line of succession, followed by British laws.

The laws, which were put in place by the British Parliament, say that heirs to the throne have to consider descent and legitimacy first, followed by sex and religion.

Prior to 2011, male heirs to the throne were placed in front of their sisters, regardless of their ages.  New laws have changed that, which is why Princess Charlotte is ahead of her younger brother, Prince Louis (the first time that has happened in the history of the royal family).

Basically, the law states that heirs to the throne will be numbered by their order of birth. So when Queen Elizabeth either retires or passes on, the crown will go to her oldest son, Prince Charles.

Prince Charles’ oldest son is Prince William, followed by Prince Harry. So the direct line to the throne follows Prince William’s family then Prince Harry’s.

After Prince Charles dies, Prince George will be second in line followed by his sister, Princess Charlotte. And the order of succession will change again in the event that Prince George has a family of his own.

What happens if Prince Charles dies while Queen Elizabeth is still on the throne?

While there are rumors that Prince Charles will abdicate once Queen Elizabeth passes on, Prince William will likely have to wait until his father dies to take the throne. That won’t change if Prince Charles dies while Queen Elizabeth is on the throne because the line of succession is already set.

So, if Charles dies before taking the throne, Prince William will inherit the crown after Queen Elizabeth.  If the same thing happened to Prince William, then the next in line, Prince George, would take over once the reigning monarch has passed.

Unfortunately, it is very unlikely that Prince Harry will ever become the King of England. The only way that could happen is if Prince William and all three of his children abdicated or died in a tragic accident.

With this unlikely to happen, Prince Harry can rest assured knowing that none of his children will ever be eligible for the throne — which is not necessarily a bad thing.

Kate Middleton will receive this title when Prince William becomes King

Whenever a member of the royal family moves up in the line of succession, they usually receive a new title.  Prince William, for example, will likely become the Prince of Wales once Prince Charles is the King of England.

But what title will Kate Middleton receive when William is at the head of the monarchy?

Although some royal watchers would love to see Middleton get the title of Queen, things are not as simple as that. The only way a person is crowned the King or Queen of England is if they are born into the royal family. So, even if Middleton is adored by everyone in the U.K., she won’t technically be called Queen — at least not in the traditional sense.

Instead, Middleton will be given the title of Queen Consort, which basically gives her all of the same responsibilities as Queen Elizabeth.  

This is the same title Camilla Parker Bowles will get once her husband, Prince Charles, is on the throne, though there is some speculation that she will be called Princess Consort instead.

As a side note, male members who marry into the family can only attain the title of consort. The only exception was Prince Albert, who was granted the title of Prince Consort by Queen Victoria in 1857.

Prince Charles, Prince William, and Prince George will be the next three rulers of England if the royal family can avert tragedy.