The three children of the Prince and Princess of Wales have charmed and delighted millions of royal watchers and followers around the world in recent years. 

Prince George, the king-in-training, is growing up as a successor to the British throne. His younger sister, Princess Charlotte, is proving to be a charming combination of her father’s stoic cheer and her mother’s warmth and vivaciousness. And the youngest, Prince Louis, is reminding the world that royals are just people, like the rest of us, with his comedy antics and expressive emotions. 

When the late Queen Elizabeth died in September 2022, these three young children moved up a level in the line of succession to the crown of the United Kingdom. So there are many questions about who will be next in line to the throne, and in what order. 

Here are some insights into the line of succession within the British Royal Family, with some specific details about Princess Charlotte and her role in the future of the monarchy of Great Britain. 

Will Princess Charlotte Be Queen? 

With her grandfather, King Charles III, on the throne, and her father, Prince William, Prince of Wales as the heir, Princess Charlotte is 3rd in line to the British crown. 

So, will Princess Charlotte be queen? It’s possible, and yet the more likely scenario is that her older brother, George, will inherit the crown, most likely from his father, William. In this scenario, if George had children of his own, they would become the future heirs, replacing Princess Charlotte in the line of succession. 

For example, if the natural order of things plays out, Prince William and his wife, HRH Catherine, Princess of Wales, will become the next King and Queen Consort of the United Kingdom. The next expected change will be on the death of William, at which point Prince George will be expected to take the crown. 

This is the point at which Princess Charlotte’s chances of becoming queen will be determined. If her brother has children, she is less likely to be queen, whereas if her brother becomes king but dies without an heir, Charlotte will be the next in the line of succession. 

Of course, many things may not go to plan in the meantime. History has shown that the line of succession does not always play out as expected. For example, Queen Elizabeth was not originally expected to become the sovereign. It was her uncle’s shocking decision to abdicate the throne that saw the crown passed to her father, which then put her next in line as the heir. 

But if we assume that there will be no surprises in the next few decades, with William becoming king after his father Charles dies, and George becoming king after his father William dies, then the role of Princess Charlotte will depend entirely on the existence of any children belonging to her elder brother. 

Princess Charlotte & Female Heirs To The Throne

As the second child of Prince William, Prince of Wales, Princess Charlotte ranks above her younger brother Louis in the line of succession. This is part of a new tradition for the British monarchy which has recently changed its rules around male primogeniture. 

Charlotte with her parents and brothers on the Buckingham Palace balcony at Trooping the Colour 2019
Charlotte with her parents and brothers on the Buckingham Palace balcony at Trooping the Colour 2019 – Londisland, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In the past, the system of heirs and inheritance favoured the male line. This means that within various systems of royalty and nobility, when crowns, property or noble titles were passed from parent to child, the male children were the heirs, rather than the female children. This was often the case regardless of age or birth order. 

So, a king could have three daughters followed by one son, and in the past, the son would have been the heir, not because of his position within the family, but purely because of his gender. Similarly, a Duke or an Earl could have had any number of daughters, but his property and hereditary title would have been inherited by any sons, taking precedence over any number of female siblings that were born before him. 

In England, this ancient tradition was changed in 2013 with the Succession to the Crown Act. This alteration to the laws around primogeniture removed the issue of gender from the line of succession. In other words, the change meant that the eldest child – irrespective of gender – would be the heir. 

How might this affect Princess Charlotte? 

If her brother ascends to the throne, and then dies, abdicates, or becomes unable to rule, and he has no children, then in line with the new law, Princess Charlotte would be the next in line and would be expected to become queen. 

If this same scenario happened and there had been no change to the law of male primogeniture, the crown would be passed not to Princess Charlotte, but instead to her younger brother Prince Louis. 

The First Generation Of Royal Equality

In terms of the British crown, Princess Charlotte and her brothers will be the first generation to experience the effects of the new Succession to the Crown Act. The new law will play no part in the succession of Prince William to the throne, because the current king, Charles III, only has sons. So there can be no contest over who is in line to the throne, based on birth order or gender. In this case, the line of succession is clear – Prince William, as the eldest child, is the heir to the throne. 

However, even if Prince William had a sister – whether older or younger – the new law would not have been applicable as it only applies to royal children born after 2011. 

As it is, Princess Charlotte is already making history by maintaining her place in the line of succession, despite the arrival of a younger brother. In the past, a younger brother would have taken precedence as an heir, yet thanks to the new law, Princess Charlotte can maintain her position in the order of heirs to the crown. 

Even though Princess Charlotte has already established a strong position in relation to the British crown, it’s likely that her place will one day be dropped down the order with the arrival of any nieces and nephews, i.e. the offspring of her older brother George. With each successive child, her place in the line of succession will drop down one position. 

Yet, there are many years between now and that scenario, and there may be some surprising twists of fate that may one day see Princess Charlotte take her place as the British queen, most likely becoming Queen Charlotte II.