Queen Elizabeth II is the lonest-serving British monarch having reigned over the country for more than 70 years, and leaves behind a generation that will never be forgotten. One of her many outstanding achievements is a beautiful gesture she made to her great-granddaughter, Princess Charlotte, that had previously bumped her down the line of succession simply because of her gender. The seven-year-old daughter of William, Prince of Wales and his wife Kate, Princess of Wales, will one day take on the Princess Royal title from her great-aunt, Princess Anne.
She is now third in line of succession behind her father William and Prince George, while she is also her parents’ middle child between her older brother and younger brother Prince Louis.
This subsequently puts places her in the same position as Princess Anne was in when she was born as the Queen and Prince Philip’s second child.
When the Princess Royal was young, a royal law meant she was bumped down the line of succession to the throne when the Queen and Philip’s sons Prince Andrew and Prince Edward were born.
But before the birth of Prince George, in July 2013, the Queen issued the Succession of the Crown Act to update royal laws and ensure their child would have equal right to the throne regardless of their gender.
George is now second in line to the throne behind his father, but the special rule imposed by the Queen means Charlotte remains third in line and did not fall down the order after her younger brother Louis was born.
Constitutional expert Iain MacMarthanne explained: “The 2013 Act sought to bring multiple pieces of outdated and discriminatory legislation relating to the monarchy up to date.
“Through this Act male primogeniture was abolished, allowing the firstborn child irrespective of gender to become heir apparent.
“The disqualification from inheriting the throne by marrying a Catholic was removed; and the Royal Marriages Act of 1772 was repealed, resulting in only the first six in line to the throne being required to obtain the sovereign’s permission.”
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William and Kate’s children have also benefitted from a law that the Queen updated, as she also altered a 1917 royal warrant that would have prevented the three children from taking HRH titles.
Mr MacMarthanne further explained: “Under George V’s 1917 Warrant determining who and who could not be an HRH, the children of the then Princess Elizabeth of Edinburgh would fall foul of it until such times as she became Queen.
“As a female Elizabeth could not pass on to her children the styles and titles of HRH and prince and princess, only male children of a sovereign could.
“When in 1948 she was due to give birth it was realised that any child she had, despite being second in line to the throne, would not have royal status and be born a ‘commoner’.
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“Accordingly, her father, George VI, issued Letters Patent regulating the situation and ensured that in this instance, as Elizabeth was heir to the throne, her children would enjoy the style HRH and have the title prince or princess.
“The Queen herself was called upon to make a similar change when it came to the birth of Prince George.
“As the great-grandson of the sovereign, he, like Prince Charles before him, would have been born without royal style or title under George V’s Warrant of 1917.
“Just as her father had done it took the Queen issuing Letters Patent to remedy the situation.”