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For years, royal followers have had questions over who takes over after Queen Elizabeth dies and who’s next in line for the throne from the British royal family. The monarch, who ascended to the throne in 1952, died on September 8, 2022. But her successor was already determined long before her death.
The British royal line of succession is based on the order of the Queen’s descendants and a series of legislative rules passed by Parliament. These include the U.K.’s Bill of Rights and the Act of Settlement (which was later restated by the Acts of Union), which generally dictated that an exiting monarch’s eldest son would be first in line for the throne. The Succession Crown Act of 2013, however, reversed this rule for future heirs “to make succession to the Crown not depend on gender,” meaning that daughters of future monarchs can also have the chance to rule one day.
But where does that leave us today? Before Queen Elizabeth’s death, the heir-apparent to the throne was Charles, formerly the Prince of Wales. The Queen’s eldest son was expected to become king following her death or abdication—whichever came first. It was previously rumored that the Queen was planning to allow Prince Charles to take the throne after her 95th birthday in 2021, according to Robert Jobson, author of Charles At Seventy. “I still firmly believe when the Queen becomes 95, that she will step down,” he said during an episode for The Royal Bea, a True Royalty TV weekly program.
This prediction, however, was soon proven false, as a source told People that the Queen planned to continue serving as monarch indefinitely. “Neither her physical nor her mental health are waning,” the insider told the magazine. A second source noted at the time that the Queen remains “well” and “in good fettle,” so much so that she was still enjoying horseback rides in her older years.
People also reported that a spokesperson for Prince Charles‘ office revealed in January 2021 that there had yet to be any discussions about the Queen’s abdication. “There are no plans for any change in arrangements at the age of 95—or any other age,” the spokesperson said at the time. No that the Queen has died, there are a lot of questions over what the new order for the throne will be. Read on for the line of succession for the British monarchy now.
1. King Charles III
Charles was named the new King of the United Kingdom and the 14 Commonwealth realms on September 8, 2022, after the death of Queen Elizabeth II. He is the eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. His wife, Camilla Parker Bowles, took on the title of Queen Consort after he became king. Before the Queen’s death, Charles was the heir-apparent to the British royal throne.
2. Prince William
Prince William, the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge, is the heir-apparent to the British throne. He is the eldest son of King Charles II and the late Princess Diana. His wife, Kate Middleton, the Princess of Wales and the Duchess of Cambridge, will be known as Queen Consort when he becomes king.
3. Prince George
Prince William and Kate Middleton’s son, Prince George, is second in line to the British throne as their eldest child. If the young prince has children one day, his kids will follow right behind him in the line of succession.
4. Princess Charlotte
Princess Charlotte is the daughter of Prince William and Duchess Kate. As their second-born child, she is third in line to the throne behind her older brother, Prince George. Her position in the royal line of succession may drop one day if George decides to have children of his own.
5. Prince Louis of Cambridge
As the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s youngest child, Prince Louis is fourth in line to the throne today. His position in the line of succession is also set to drop if his older siblings, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, have children.
6. Prince Harry
Prince Harry, the Duke of Cambridge, takes fifth place on the line of succession behind his niece and nephews. He is the youngest son of Prince Charles’ and the late Princess Diana, putting him behind his older brother William and his expanding family.
7. Archie Mountbatten-Windsor
Archie Mountbatten-Windsor is Prince Harry’s first child with his wife, Meghan Markle. While the California-based royal is unlikely to rule one day, he still takes his place behind his father at sixth in line to the British throne.
8. Lilibet Mountbatten-Windsor
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s daughter, Lilibet Diana Mountbatten-Windsor, is currently seventh in line to the British throne behind her older brother Archie, her father Harry, cousins George, Charlotte and Louis, and uncle William.
9. Prince Andrew
The Duke of York is Queen Elizabeth II’s third child and second son with Prince Philip. At present, he is eighth in the line of succession to the British throne.
10. Princess Beatrice
Princess Beatrice is the eldest child and daughter of Prince Andrew and Sarah, Duchess of York, which puts her ninth in line to the British throne. She has a daughter, Sienna Mapelli Mozzi, and a younger sister, Princess Eugenie, who follow her in that order in the line of succession.
What happens when the Queen dies?
What happens when Queen Elizabeth dies, exactly? When the time comes, the palace has a detailed plan—called “Operation London Bridge”—to be executed upon the Queen’s death.
When the Queen dies, news of her death will first be shared using a code phrase, thought to be “London Bridge is down,” among government officials. Notified individuals will likely include the prime minister, the cabinet secretary and other senior officials. In addition, news of the Queen’s death will be shared with the governments of which she is the head of state, along with the nations of the Commonwealth where she is still considered a symbolic figurehead.
After governments officials are notified, news of the Queen’s death will be announced to the public through a newsflash to the British Press Association. The palace will also begin to stage displays of mourning, including black imagery across all social media accounts, shared statements on official websites and a black death announcement pinned to the gates of Buckingham Palace. The royal family and prime minister will be expected to issue their official statements. Later in the evening, the Queen’s eldest son—Prince Charles—will address the world as the United Kingdom’s new king.
How did Queen Elizabeth die?
How did the Queen die? Queen Elizabeth II died “peacefully” at her home at Balmoral Castle in Scotland in the afternoon of September 8, 2022. She was 96. Buckingham Palace confirmed her death in a statement. She will be succeeded by her son, Charles, Prince of Wales, who will now become King Charles III. Charles’ wife, Camila, Duchess of Cornwall, will now become The Queen Consort. “The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon,” Buckingham Palace’s statement read. “The King and The Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow.” The Queen’s death came hours after after Buckingham Palace announced that she had been placed under “medical supervision” due to “concerns” from her doctors. “Following further evaluation this morning, The Queen’s doctors are concerned for Her Majesty’s health and have recommended she remain under medical supervision,” the Buckingham Palace said at the time. “The Queen remains comfortable and at Balmoral.” The statement continued, “Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall have traveled to Balmoral.”
After the Queen passed away, Charles—the heir apparent to the British royal throne and the Queen’s eldest son with her late husband, Prince Philip—honored his mother in a statement on the official Royal Family Twitter. “The death of my beloved Mother, Her Majesty The Queen, is a moment of the greatest sadness for me and all members of my family,” the statement read. “We mourn profoundly the passing of a cherished sovereign, and much-loved mother. I know her loss will be deeply felt throughout the country, the Realms and the Commonwealth, and by countless people around the world. During this period of mourning and change, my family and I will be comforted and sustained by our knowledge of the respect and deep affection on which The Queen was so widely held.”
The Queen was surrounded by British royal family members at the time of her death. Along with Charles and Camila, the Queen’s second and third sons with Philip—Prince Andrew and Prince Edward—were seen arriving at Aberdeen Airport in Scotland shortly before her death. Prince Edward’s wife, Sophie, Countess of Wessex, was also seen arriving at the airport, as well as the Queen’s eldest grandson, Prince William. The Queen’s second eldest grandson, Prince Harry, wasn’t seen at Balmoral Castle until hours after her death. He traveled from Germany, where he and his wife, Meghan Markle, were promoting the Invictus Games, to Scotland. Meghan, for her part, didn’t join Harry at Balmoral Castle and remained in Germany at the time of the Queen’s death. William’s wife, Kate Middleton, also wasn’t present at Balmoral Castle and stayed in Windsor, England, as September 8 was the first day of school for her and William’s children: Prince George, 9, Princess Charlotte, 7, and Prince Louis, 4.
What was Queen Elizabeth’s cause of death?
What was the Queen’s cause of death? Queen Elizabeth II’s cause of death wasn’t announced at the time of her passing. However, her death came hours after after Buckingham Palace announced that she had been placed under “medical supervision” due to “concerns” from her doctors. “Following further evaluation this morning, The Queen’s doctors are concerned for Her Majesty’s health and have recommended she remain under medical supervision,” the Buckingham Palace said at the time. “The Queen remains comfortable and at Balmoral.” The statement continued, “Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall have traveled to Balmoral.” The statement also came a day after the Queen cancelled a scheduled Privy Council meeting so he could rest. “After a full day yesterday, Her Majesty has this afternoon accepted doctors’ advice to rest,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement on September 7, 2022. “This means that the Privy Council meeting that had been due to take place this evening will be rearranged.”
Before her death, the Queen had been seen regularly using a cane since October 2021. That month, she cancelled a scheduled trip to Northern Ireland under the advice of her doctors and spent a night in the hospital. “The Queen has reluctantly accepted medical advice to rest for the next few days,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement at the time. “Her Majesty is in good spirits and is disappointed that she will no longer be able to visit Northern Ireland, where she had been due to undertake a series of engagements today and tomorrow.”
After her hospitalization, Buckingham Palace confirmed in a statement at the time that the Queen “remains in good spirits” following her overnight stay, where she underwent “preliminary investigations.” “Following medical advice to rest for a few days, the Queen attended hospital on Wednesday afternoon for some preliminary investigations, returning to Windsor Castle at lunchtime today and remains in good spirits,” the statement read.
The Queen’s death also came a year after she tested positive for COVID-19 following close contact with Charles, who contracted the virus earlier that month. At the time, celebrity gossip website Hollywood Unlocked, falsely reported that the Queen had died at the age of 95 from COVID-19. The site falsely reported at the time that the Queen was “found dead” after she was set to attend a wedding. “It is with our deepest regret to inform you that Britain’s Queen Elizabeth has died,” Hollywood Unlocked’s report read at the time. “Sources close to the Royal Kingdom notified us exclusively that Queen Elizabeth has passed away. She was scheduled to attend the wedding of British Vogue editor Edward Enninful, but was found dead.”
While the site didn’t credit any official royal sources, Hollywood Unlocked CEO and founder Jason Lee took to his Twitter at the time to back up the outlet’s report. “We don’t post lies and I always stand by my sources,” he wrote at the time. “Waiting for an official statement from the palace.” Lee later reiterated his stance on Instagram, writing, “I’ve never lied;” “I’ve never been wrong;” “I trust my sources;” and “I have yet to see an official statement from the palace saying otherwise,” in a numbered list. Despite Lee’s statement, however, the news of the Queen’s death at the time was false.
After the Queen tested positive for COVID-19 in February 2022, a source told Us Weekly at the time the monarch had been recovering “without any fuss” despite Hollywood Unlocked’s report of her death. “Of course, she has a team of doctors to lean on whenever needed and a support staff that’s second to none,” the insider told the magazine. “But thus far Her Majesty has been handling this without any fuss or need to involve too many others in her recovery.” After reports the Queen was still alive, Hollywood Unlocked issued a statement on social media apologizing for the incorrect story and blaming the report on an “intern journalist” who “published the draft post by mistake.” The site added, “Our deepest apologies goes out to the #RoyalFamily and all involved in this embarrassing situation. It was an accident and we’re working hard to make sure that this mistake never happens again.”
For more about the British royal family, check out Sally Bedell Smith’s 2012 biography, Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch
. The New York Times bestseller, which includes the “real story” behind several storylines featured in Netflix’s The Crown, follows Queen Elizabeth II’s life from her childhood as the “heiress presumptive” to her father, King George VI; to the moment he et her husband, Prince Philip, when she was 13 years old; to her ascension to the throne at 25 years old in 1952. Elizabeth the Queen, which also includes interviews with Buckingham Palace sources and never-before-revealed documents, provides a deep dive into the Queen’s legacy as one of the most famous monarchs in recent history.
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