The Sovereign's Throne in the House of Lords, from which the speech is delivered at State Openings of Parliament

Succession to the British throne is determined by descent, sex (for people born on or before 28 October 2011), legitimacy, and religion. Under common law, the Crown is inherited by a sovereign's children or by a childless sovereign's nearest collateral line. The Bill of Rights 1689 and the Act of Settlement 1701 restrict succession to the throne to the legitimate Protestant descendants of Sophia of Hanover who are in "communion with the Church of England".[1] Spouses of Roman Catholics were disqualified from 1689 until the law was amended in 2015. Protestant descendants of those excluded for being Roman Catholics are eligible.[2]

Queen Elizabeth II is the sovereign, and her heir apparent is her eldest son, Charles, Prince of Wales. Next in line after him is Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, the Prince of Wales's elder son. Third in line is Prince George, the eldest child of the Duke of Cambridge, followed by his sister, Princess Charlotte, and younger brother, Prince Louis. Sixth in line is Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, the younger son of the Prince of Wales. Under the Perth Agreement, which came into effect in 2015, only the first six in line of succession require the sovereign's consent before they marry; without such consent, they and their children would be disqualified from succession.

The first four individuals in the line of succession who are over 21, and the sovereign's consort, may be appointed Counsellors of State. Counsellors of State perform some of the sovereign's duties in the United Kingdom while he or she is out of the country or temporarily incapacitated. Otherwise, individuals in the line of succession need not have specific legal or official roles.

The United Kingdom is one of the 16 Commonwealth realms. Each of those countries has the same person as monarch and the same order of succession. In 2011, the prime ministers of the realms agreed unanimously to adopt a common approach to amending the rules on the succession to their respective Crowns so that absolute primogeniture would apply for persons born after the date of the agreement, instead of male-preference primogeniture, and the ban on marriages to Roman Catholics would be lifted, but the monarch would still need to be in communion with the Church of England. After the necessary legislation had been enacted in accordance with each realm's constitution, the changes took effect on 26 March 2015.

Current line of succession

First six in line[n 1] from 23 April 2018
1. The Prince of Wales Charles, Prince of Wales at COP21.jpg
2. The Duke of Cambridge Prince William, Duke of Cambridge.jpg
3. Prince George of Cambridge Prince George of Cambridge color fix.jpg
4. Princess Charlotte of Cambridge
5. Prince Louis of Cambridge
6. The Duke of Sussex Prince Harry at the 2017 Invictus Games opening ceremony.jpg

No official, complete version of the line of succession is currently maintained. The exact number, in remoter collateral lines, of the people who would be eligible is uncertain. In 2001, American genealogist William Addams Reitwiesner compiled a list of 4,973 living descendants of the Electress Sophia in order of succession, but did so disregarding Roman Catholic status.[3] When updated in January 2011, the number was 5,753.[4]

The annotated list below covers the first part of this line of succession, being limited to descendants of the sons of George V, Elizabeth II's grandfather. The order of the first eighteen numbered in the list is given on the official website of the British Monarchy;[1] other list numbers and exclusions are explained by annotations (Notes and sources below) and footnotes. People named in italics are unnumbered either because they are deceased or because sources report them to be excluded from the succession.

Notes and sources
Mark Source for listing or note on exclusion from succession
1952 Succession published on the accession of Queen Elizabeth II in 1952 [6]
B Listed by the official website of the British Monarchy, "Succession", retrieved 8 May 2019.
D Listed on Debrett's website (as of 27 May 2019): "The Line of Succession"
W Listed by Whitaker's Almanack 2015, London: Bloomsbury, ISBN 978-1-4729-0929-9, p. 22
M These people had been excluded through marriage to a Roman Catholic. This exclusion was repealed on 26 March 2015, restoring them to the line of succession, when the Perth Agreement came into effect.
X Excluded as Roman Catholics. This exclusion is not affected by changes subsequent to the Perth Agreement.

History