Throughout the history of the Royal Family, the question on everyone’s lips is always: who is next? There have been times when the absence of an heir to the throne has resulted in a full-blown succession crisis. This notably happened during the reign of William IV, who had no legitimate children to succeed him, before his niece Alexandrina Victoria stepped up to the throne and ruled for 63 years like Queen Victoria.
Ensuring there are plenty of heirs to the throne allows for stability and thankfully the Royal Family today has plenty waiting in the wings upon the passing of the Queen.
The eldest child of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Prince Charles has been heir apparent since he was three and his mother ascended the throne. However, because he was the direct successor to the British crown, this meant there was extraordinary pressure on the young Prince of Wales to marry as soon as possible and produce an heir. This resulted in his marriage to Diana Spencer who managed to enchant a nation and deliver two children: Prince William and Prince Harry.
The reemergence of childhood sweetheart Camilla Parker Bowles onto the scene complicated the marriage between Princess Diana and Prince Charles and eventually led to the couple divorcing, as is possible to see unfold in True Royalty documentary Inside Royalty: Three’s A Crowd. During this very public drama and the subsequent death of Diana and the second marriage of Charles to Camilla, the Queen has remained a constant and to this day shows no sign of slowing down as monarch. Prince Charles may now be the oldest and longest-serving heir apparent in the history of the British throne, but this means he has spent his whole life preparing for it.
As the son of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, Prince William was able to see the inner workings of the Royal Family but was also aware of the insular nature of it. Having been second in line to the throne since his birth, the Duke of Cambridge was under less pressure than his father to settle down and start a family. Having said this, there was still considerable weight of expectation for Prince William to propose to his longtime girlfriend Kate Middleton, a marriage which eventually took place in 2011.
With hindsight, it is possible to see why the young prince was reluctant to rush into marriage, as the product of an unhappy marriage and child of divorce. Through ensuring he had found the right person to start a family with, Prince William has managed to ensure the happiness and longevity of the Royal Family. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, alongside their three children, have managed to win over the nation as the young optimistic future face of British Royalty.
Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis
After Prince William and Princess Catherine were married, the world eagerly awaited the announcement of a Royal baby. Sure enough in December 2012, it was announced that the Duchess of Cambridge was expecting, followed by months of Royal baby fever that swept the excited nation. In anticipation of the birth, the Royal equality act was introduced which would ensure in the event of a baby girl she would not be placed behind a younger male sibling in the line of succession (as historically had been the case).
In the end, it was a boy, and the Royal couple introduced the world to Prince George on 22nd July 2013. As third in line to the British throne, behind his grandfather and father, the young prince has already had a notable impact on pop culture with whatever he wears gaining popularity and even – bizarrely – being named one of GQ’s 50 Best Dressed Men in Britain in 2015. His siblings, Princess Charlotte who was born in 2015, and Prince Louis who was born in 2018, are fourth and fifth in the line of succession respectively.
Known officially as Prince Henry but more colloquially as Harry, the Duke of Sussex is sixth in line to the throne. As the younger brother to Prince William he was at one point as high as third in line, but since the arrival of his brother’s children has dropped down the order of succession. It was always unlikely that Prince Harry would wear the crown, but it is now more unlikely than ever after he and his wife Meghan Markle’s recent decision to step back from their role as senior members of the Royal Family.