Just in case you haven't heard, Kensington Palace has officially confirmed Kate Middleton has given birth to a baby girl. According to Kensington Palace's statement on Twitter, Middleton and Prince William welcomed royal baby #2 at 8:34 AM at St. Mary's Hospital in west London. Many congratulations are in order for the happy couple! In the meantime, as the couple enjoys becoming new parents yet again, some fans of the royal couple might be wondering more about Prince George's new younger sister's future. Specifically, some might be wondering more about the new baby's place in the royal family — where the new royal baby falls in line to the throne.
So, the way that the British line of succession works is pretty interesting. As we all know, Queen Elizabeth II has had quite a long run sitting on the throne. At age 88, she has held the position for 63 years. When her reign is complete, the line will follow the royal lineage principle in Britain known as primogeniture, which puts the oldest child first in line for succession. That's why Prince Charles of Wales is next in line to the throne. And then Prince Charles' oldest child, Prince William, follows as second in line. Before Prince George was born, laws passed have allowed for the oldest child to succeed to the throne, regardless of gender. Since Prince George is Prince William's oldest child, he is third in line, and would be in the same position if he had been born a girl. So as it turns out, the second royal baby will be fourth in line to the throne regardless of gender — right after older brother George.
So what does this mean for the baby's future, both short-term and long-term? Well, in the short term, it means that Prince William's younger brother Prince Harry, will be knocked down one spot in line behind the newborn as fifth in line to the throne (sorry, Harry!), and everyone else in the line of succession, including Queen Elizabeth's three other children and their respective offspring, moves down one spot as well. By the way, should the time come for Prince Charles be up in line for the throne, he has the option of abdicating the responsibility to Prince William, which of course, would shift the order around again.
But in the long term, much like Prince Harry before her, the second royal baby will take the unofficial title of the "spare heir" since she is the younger child. What "spare heir" means, essentially, is that unlike Prince George, the new princess is not necessarily expected to become a monarch one day — however, the possibility always remains that the younger child could be called upon to become a monarch.
It's a position that has drawn lots of intrigue over the years for those who have been interested in throne succession, both for its excitements and drawbacks. One thing's for sure, though, this new baby is bound to have an exciting and interesting life ahead of her!
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