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The order of succession is the sequence of members of the Royal Family in the order in which they stand in line to the throne. Queen Elizabeth II is the current monarch of the United Kingdom, having reigned for almost seven decades. The succession to the throne is regulated not only through descent and inheritance but also through Parliamentary law.
The basis for the line of succession was first established in the constitutional developments of the 17th Century, which ended in the creation of the Bill of Rights and the Act of Settlement.
When King James II first fled England in 1688, Parliament pinned him as having “abdicated the government”, meaning that the throne was vacant.
Instead of being offered to James’s youngest son, the throne was offered to his daughter Mary and her husband, William of Orange, as joint rulers.
Therefore, it was established not only that the Sovereign rules through parliament, but the succession to the throne can be regulated through Parliament, and that a sovereign can have their title removed if misused.
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Parliament, under the Bill of Rights and the Act of Settlement, laid down various rules and conditions that the sitting king or queen must meet.
For example, a Royal of Roman Catholic faith was specifically excluded from the succession to the throne for hundreds of years.
However, 2013 saw the Succession to the Crown Act passed, which changed the way things work somewhat.
Roman Catholics are now allowed to sit on the throne, as are Roman Catholic spouses of reigning monarchs.
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As it stands, the next member of the Royal Family to take the throne is the Queen’s oldest child, Charles, Prince of Wales.
Prince Charles, son of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, is the longest-serving heir to the throne.
He became heir apparent in 1952, when Queen Elizabeth II first took the throne, and will one day become King, while his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, becomes Queen Camilla.
Next in line to the throne is Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge.
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At just 37-years-old, it is highly likely that the Duke will ascend to the throne at some point in his life.
Third in line to the throne is the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s oldest son, Prince George.
Prince George was born on July 22, 2013, and took Prince Harry’s spot, who was moved back in the line of succession.
The UK will not see another Queen on the throne until Princess Charlotte, who is currently fourth in line to the throne.
Although Princess Charlotte has a younger brother and royal tradition dictates men take priority when it comes down to succession, the young Princess will retain her fourth-in-line position.
This is because of the Succession to the Crown Act which was passed in 2013.
The Act, which came into effect weeks before Princess Charlotte’s birth, removed a long-held rule which stated any male sibling – regardless of birth order – would automatically move ahead of his older sisters.
Princess Anne was born long before the act was passed, which is the reason she holds 14th place in the line.
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