For centuries, the British royal family has captivated minds, hearts, and countless newspaper headlines around the world in its capacity as the world's most famous monarchy. While other European nations still retain a monarchy, they tend to be far more low-key, and lack the global hype and interest of the British monarchynote . Living life in the spotlight and under scrutiny, the British royal family continues to feed the global public's fascination with coronations, royal weddings, birth announcements — and a few scandals.
Head of State of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (and much of The Commonwealth), the current monarch, Queen Elizabeth II presides over a family that can, quite charitably, be described as a mix of competent, respected individuals and tabloid fodder. Fortunately for all concerned, it was determined whether true power should rest with the monarchy or an elected parliament in 1649, when Charles I abruptly lost about 12 inches in height. This rather emphatic statement officially authorized the trend in which the King (or Queen) gradually lost to Parliament and the head of Government, the Prime Minister. This trend was finally accepted as pretty much fact in 1688, when Parliament invited William III of Orange and his wife Mary to invade England and seize the throne from the rather unpopular (and Catholic, pretty much the same thing at the time) James II.
Some Commonwealth countries, who don't even get a say over who their Head of State is, consider it a small price in exchange for having all the pageantry (and amusing antics) that someone else is paying for. Nevertheless, republicanism is stronger in the former colonies. Many, such as Ireland and Mauritius, have already broken away from the British-born monarchy. Some views toward the monarchy in the Commonwealth:
- The Jamaican government has made noise about abolishing the monarchy, but there is some debate there. Not everyone is convinced that the move is necessary or feasible — for instance, changing all the references to the Queen in all the government buildings would cost a substantial proportion of the poor country's already-tight budget.
- In Australia, public opinion is mostly split evenly on the issue, and the needle swings very much toward the Crown whenever there is a royal visit. If the country were to take any action toward becoming a republic, the Australian constituion requires at least four out of six states and an overall majority of population to vote in favor of abolishing the monarch. From 2015 to 2018, Australia's federal and state governments were all led by republican politicians (then-PM Malcom Turnbull was especially outspoken and made a point of abolishing knighthoods) who collectively issued an open letter declaring their intent to form a republic, but they didn't pursue the issue further.
- Canada (at least outside maverick Quebec) is in no apparent hurry to lose the monarchy, which exists as the Royal Family of Canada in that nation — technically a separate monarchy to the UK, but made up of exactly the same individuals. In fact, this is the case with all of the Commonwealth Realms, but the Canadians were the first to develop the theory and consequently have both the most traditional and most developed theory of monarchy. Canada is still the most monarchist Commonwealth Realm, partly because it is the oldest Commonwealth Realm besides the UK, and partly because it has a large, friendly-but-overbearing, culturally-similar republic right next door, making the monarchy a good way to distinguish itself from its neighbour. Canada is one of the few places where being both a leftist intellectual and a fervent monarchist is so commonplace as to be unremarkable — to many English-speaking Canadians, the monarchy is just part of being Canadian. (Doesn't mean the Governor-General is treated with any more respect, though.) It also helps that the Canadian Constitution requires unanimous consent of all the Canadian provinces to amend the Constitution to abolish the monarchy. Any debate over significantly changing the Constitution almost invariably ends up devolving into petty bickering between the provinces, so no one can be bothered to start that process.
- In 2021, Barbados shed the monarchy and became a parliamentary republic. The constitution was rewritten to remove all mentions of the Crown, the position of governor general was replaced with an elected president, and all Crown properties were transferred to the state.
In Britain itself, the abolition of the monarchy has almost never really entered mainstream political discourse,note and there seems to be no prospect of it happening any time soon. There are a lot of reasons floated around to keep the monarchy, among them being:
- Many people love the pomp and ceremony of the royal family, and the monarch is just a figurehead, so they can't really do anything to actually harm the country (except perhaps cause embarrassing sex scandals). They've also, for the most part, developed a strong commitment to being Royals Who Actually Do Something and actually working for a living or at least to provide a benefit for the nation at large. The men in particular usually join the military (even if they take a private-sector job later), and the second son of every monarch and heir apparent has joined the Army or the Navy going back to George III's second son Prince Frederick, Duke of York.
- It may cost the UK more money to ditch them than to keep them. The monarchy is a huge employer in the UK and draws an immense amount of tourism to the country. And there is an argument that if the UK were to ditch the monarchy, it may have to honour an agreement made between George III and the government of the day, in which the King deeded the revenues earned by "Crown lands" to the public treasury in return for an income from the Civil List — but only for as long as his successors reigned. Those annual revenues, every penny of which would be lost if the Royals were kicked out, are currently at least twenty times the annual cost of the monarchynote — and even that pales in comparison to the estimated tourist revenue just from people who want to gawk at the Royal Family. Monarchy, if nothing else, might just be a good investment. CGP Grey explains in detail — though some people think otherwise.
- As a counterpoint to those who argue that they're just scrounging off public money, their net worth is only around £600 million, most of which comes from stuff like paintings, palaces, estates, and other non-liquid assets (as opposed to actual cash). If the monarchy were abolished, that stuff would go to the National Trust and have no real benefit to the public other than there being more boring museums to which to drag your kids — many of which already exist and are probably even more of a tourist draw because of their affiliation with the monarchy.
- There is also a distinction between who is "royal" and "working royal", with the latter being members of the family who represent the crown on an official basis and receive public funds to support those activities. Prince Charles has been vocal about how he intends to trim the number of working royals and reduce the amount of money the family receives from British taxpayers.
Although a large and sprawling family, the current membership of the House of Windsor is generally considered to refer mainly to:
She has her own page, so the tropes about her can be seen there — and there are quite a few, since she is officially the single longest-reigning British monarch ever, with a huge influence on British culture and significant patronage of British media. This page is basically about her husband and children (and grandchildren and great-grandchildren), so a few brief notes on how she affects them:
- She is the oldest and longest-reigning monarch in the world, showing an incredible longevity and no signs of slowing down. In September 2015, she broke Queen Victoria's record of 63 years and 216 days as monarch, and on February 6, 2022, she became the first female and first British monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee.
- Her sovereignty can be traced back to Anglo-Saxon times; she is the 32nd great-granddaughter of King Alfred the Great, who was the first effective King of England 871-899. Alfred counted Cerdic of Wessex as his ancestor, who claimed descent from the god Wōden himself.
- She's very much the epitome of the Cool Old Lady (among other things, she's a fan of Doctor Whonote , she's a technophile who asked Barack Obama to upgrade her iPod, she has an extensive history of service in World War II where she was a mechanic, and she co-starred with Daniel Craig in a James Bond scene in the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Olympics), meaning that her popularity in the UK is phenomenal. And she's very likely to keep going, as many of her family members were long-lived, and her mother lived to be over 100.
- Despite her great longevity, she's not likely to Abdicate the Throne. This is in spite of an increasingly popular trend among other monarchs to do so; the rulers of The Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, and even the Pope all abdicated within an 18-month period in 2013-14, and the Emperor of Japan (a similarly venerated figure in his home country, if not more so) abdicated in 2019. But not Elizabeth, which has been known to cause a little consternation for her heir apparent Charles. Two reasons are given for this refusal: first, she takes her coronation oath (and the declaration she made on her 21st birthday) very seriously, considering it an unshakable promise made personally to God; and second, she saw her uncle Edward VIII abdicate in favour of her father George VI, and her father's relatively early death at age 56, which she may attribute to the stress of his not having been ready for the throne.note Even if she becomes incapable of discharging her duties as Sovereign, it is believed that she will still not abdicate, but set up Charles as Prince Regent.
The Queen's husband between 1947 and his passing in 2021. He was the longest-serving royal consort in British history and a popular figure in his own right. Notable things about him:
- He was famously irascible and had a reputation for making extremely blunt comments. He was well aware of it and invented a word for it: dontopedalogy, or "the science of opening your mouth and putting your foot in it, a science which I have practised for a good many years." The press liked to trumpet his comments to stir outrage, but bystanders usually just found them a good laugh. Depending on his mood and how much you'd prepared, he could have been your best friend or your worst enemy, but you knew what you were getting with him. He'd also got a reputation for being hardworking and for having a similar longevity to the Queen.
- He was, above all else, fiercely dedicated to the Queen and "the Firm". If someone in the fold found themselves struggling with the pressures of being a royal, he'd try to help in his own gruff way. For instance, he reached out to Diana and let her know she could turn to him for help when her marriage to Charles was falling apart. And, although he was never a big fan of Sarah Ferguson, he became a supporter when she worked to obtain plane and helicopter licences. However, if he viewed anyone as a traitornote , that person would end up on the receiving end of his legendary wrath before being frozen out.
- He was a former member of the Greek royal family. Due to the tangled nature of European royal families, this means he came from a junior branch of the Danish royal family while primarily being of German descent, but was baptised and raised in the Greek Orthodox Church. (He converted to Anglicanism shortly before his wedding, though he had been informally attending Church of England services for years before that.note ) His family was kicked out of Greece when he was a child — he famously escaped in an orange crate — and he never properly learned the Greek language, which was known to be one of his great regrets in life. The press sometimes gave him the nickname "Phil the Greek". He gave up his Greek titles and princely status to marry Elizabeth.
- Royal bloodlines being what they are, he was actually eligible to become King in his own right, as a descendant of Princess Alice, daughter of Queen Victoria. (This made him 679th in line for the throne as of 2011 — or thereabout, as it was just so low that it wasn't worth keeping track.) He was in fact the longest-lived descendant of Queen Victoria when he passed at age 99.
- He was considered old-fashioned with dated views, but he also had a surprisingly progressive streak, which was especially evident in his early years. He instituted several reforms within Buckingham Palace, including replacing the messengers with an intercom system. He was the one to suggest that Elizabeth's coronation be televised (popular belief is that it was her idea, although she was the one who put her foot down when conservatives raised their objections). He even presented a couple of documentary programs on television.
- He was an early advocate for environmentalism, long before it came in vogue with the general public. He insisted he wasn't "a green", but that there is a clear environmental crisis that everyone should be able to see and that concrete steps must be taken to address it.
- He served with distinction as a naval officer in World War II on the Allied side (i.e. in spite of his German heritage), even being mentioned in dispatches for bravery in battle. His mother, Princess Alice, was similarly named a Righteous Gentile by Yad Vashem for her role in saving Greek Jews during the Holocaust. This may be why he was so hurt and annoyed when Mohammed al-Fayed, in one of the stranger moments of the very strange inquest into Princess Diana's death, called him a Nazi.
- He was adept in his naval service; on the basis of his wartime accomplishments, people say he could easily have become an admiral on his own merits, following in the footsteps of his maternal grandfather (Lord Louis Mountbatten, Marquess of Milford Haven) and his uncle (The Earl Mountbatten of Burma), who were Fleet Admirals at the peak of their wartime service. He instead resigned his commission to serve as Queen Elizabeth's consort. He was still given honorary five-star ranks in the Army, Navy, and Air Force, as well as various colonel-in-chief appointments, in recognition of what he had to sacrifice. He eventually held the even higher rank of Lord High Admiral, having been appointed by the Queen (who formerly held the post) in 2001 — largely a ceremonial position, but still pretty cool.
- According to insiders, while he played a subordinate role to the Queen in regards to their public duties, behind the scenes he was the absolute head of household. He proved himself to be stern, playful, and loving in equal measure. This side of him was seen most acutely during the funeral of Princess Diana, as he convinced William to walk behind his mother's coffin, joined the procession in support of his grandsons, and was even briefly seen putting his arm around William and asking him if he was alright just before they walked onto the Horse Guards Parade.
- He was worshipped as a god by the inhabitants of some Pacific islands.
- He was well-known as dashing and handsome in his youth (sometimes described as a "Greek god").
- He retired from royal duties in August 2017 and stopped making public appearances, but he still maintained a nominal membership in the nearly 800 organizations with which he had worked.
Charles, Prince of Wales
The Heir Apparent, next in line for the throne after his mother Queen Elizabeth II. Notable things about him:
- He's best known for his love life and the two women in it. His first love was Camilla Shand (later Parker Bowles), but he couldn't marry her at the time because she wasn't "appropriate" (read: a sheltered, blue-blooded English virgin), having committed the heinous sin of sleeping with someone to whom she wasn't married. He instead married the far younger Lady Diana Spencer in 1981 in what was, for all intents and purposes, an Arranged Marriage and certainly a celebrity marriage, to the point that in some circles, he's more famous as Diana's husband than as the Queen's son. He and Diana had two children, but he constantly pined after Camilla (and Diana was no stranger to affairs herself); that, along with their age difference* and growing incompatibility led to their divorce in 1996. He took a very public hit for that, as the public adored Diana, and that emotion exploded when Diana was killed in a car accident in 1997. But since then, he has gradually worked himself into the public's good graces, especially after his rather touching speech at the close of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee concert. He finally married Camilla in 2005, and their relationship has also undergone a positive change in the public's eye (which some attribute to the "Will and Kate effect").
- Other than that, he's also known as an environmentalist, and perhaps a bit nutty and New-Agey. He apparently talks to plants, which the media likes to remind everyone. But this does also give him a reputation for being environmentally progressive and remarkably prescient, in particular becoming a pioneer for organic farming (his estates even have a deal with Waitrose to supply organic products) and sustainable living at least a decade before it even entered mainstream consciousness. His Highgrove estate has an extensive and state-of-the-art plant-based water recycling system. The village of Poundbury, designed from the ground up to Charles' specifications, is a prototype of city planning meant to showcase means of reducing automobile usage in urban areas by designing road and building layouts around viable foot traffic while maintaining traditional architecture.
- The prospect of his actually assuming the throne is viewed with some ambivalence. For one thing, he's shown a certain taste for political meddling — nothing major, but enough to qualify as embarrassing, mostly along the lines of writing letters to government ministers expressing his opinions on various matters at a time when monarchs with strong political views tend to be viewed with suspicion. For another, he's just not as beloved as his mother (who's had many decades to refine her Cool Old Lady factor) and his sons (who inherited Diana's charm and benefit from her halo of sainthood). Because of this, there's been a relatively mild, but persistent, question of whether to skip him and go straight to William when the Queen dies. There have even been plays written about it, and when The Vicar of Dibley finished up, Richard Curtis didn't want to strike the sets, saying (rather presumptuously) that "Britain might need some cheering up when Charles becomes King." This has apparently significantly irritated him, as by all accounts he really wants to be King. Frankly, you can't really blame him for angsting over it; he's over 70 years old, an age when most people have already retired, but still an apprentice waiting to take on his real job — which in many respects he was born to do, and which he can only have when his mother dies; wanting a job that can only be taken upon the death of a parent after so long waiting for it and knowing that that's what it will take to finally have it must be a stressor almost unique in the modern world. He is the oldest ever heir apparent in British history and will be the oldest person ever to accede the throne.note
- He's known to have quite the sense of humour and to be fond of British comedy. When attending galas like the Royal Variety Performance and We Are Most Amused, he's among those laughing the hardest, even at jokes at his own expense. He's the world's highest-ranking fan of Monty Python (and their forerunner The Goon Show).
- He has rather large ears.
- It's widely believed that when he becomes King, he will not use Charles as his regnal name. There's a widespread stigma attached to the name, as Charles I was an highly unpopular monarch (he was even executed, an event which spurred the English Civil War); "Charles III" was also the regnal name of the Jacobite pretender also known as "Bonnie Prince Charlie". The scuttlebutt is that he will take the name George VII, in honour of his grandfather. Officially, this will be decided at the time.
Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall
Formerly Camilla Parker Bowles (née Shand); she was the First Love and long-term mistress of Prince Charles before finally marrying him in 2005, with the Queen's blessing. They couldn't marry in the Church of Englandnote , so they had a civil ceremony at Windsor Guildhall with a church blessing afterwards instead. Notable things about her:
- She was a socialite who went to finishing school in Switzerland, and is the granddaughter of the 3rd Baron Ashcombe.
- Despite the stereotype that aristocratic ladies can't/don't cook, it seems that she's actually something of a dab hand in the kitchen; her son Tom Parker Bowles is a prominent food writer/critic and credits his interest in food to his mother's cooking.
- Like her current husband, she's an outdoorsy equine enthusiast who greatly enjoys the country life.
- She does her job without any fuss, never upstages Charles, and is generally reported to be a very nice, down-to-Earth person who most certainly doesn't deserve the vitriol spewed her way. Virtually everyone who has interacted with her personally says that she's warm, compassionate, engaging, and sincerely interested in everyone she meets, regardless of their circumstances. Unfortunately, the circumstances surrounding her marriage to Charles (and the tabloids' continued elevation of Diana to sainthood, while appearing to believe that only men commit adultery) have blighted the public's opinion of her. That started to change thanks to the "Will and Kate effect" and the public seeing her acquit herself very well as Charles' wife.
- She's incredibly devoted to her charity work, with her chief causes including animal welfare, literacy, treatment for osteoporosis, and perhaps notably, helping survivors of rape and sexual assault.
- In the end, people have realized that she makes a far better royal than Diana ever did, being much lower-profile and more duty-minded and loyal to her husband.
- Upon her marriage to Charles, it was announced that she'd take the title of "Princess Consort" when Charles ascends to the throne, out of respect to Diana. In 2022, the Queen released a statement in which she noted that it was her wish that Camilla be granted the title of "Queen Consort" in recognition of her loyal service.
Anne, Princess Royal
Notable things about her:
- The highest she's ever been in the line of succession was second; when her mother became Queen, she was only behind Prince Charles. Due to succession laws of the time, she was displaced initially by her younger brothers Princes Andrew and Edward, and eventually by their children beginning with Prince Charles' sons. Today, she is 17th in line for the throne; the succession law updates in 2013 only apply to the descendants of Prince Charles, so her younger brothers and their descendants will remain ahead of her and her descendants.
- She was the tabloids' favourite target before Diana was on the scene. They called her "Princess Sourpuss" for her irascibility, a contributing factor in going through private secretaries at a rate of knots (her current one, however, has been around for a while). Since then, though, she's mellowed considerably and gained a reputation for waving the flag for the family, making her rather popular. In fact, she's often dubbed "the hardest working royal" as she, by some distance, carries out the most public engagements of any royal in the family.
- She used to be a world-class show rider, even competing in the Olympics in 1976. Her daughter Zara took after her in this respect. In her capacity as a sportswoman, she famously made a guest-appearance on the BBC's sports-themed quiz/panel show, A Question of Sport alongside other sporting greats.
- Despite her outdoorsy, country girl vibe, the Princess Royal was a striking beauty in her youth and has appeared on the cover of Vogue no less than three times second only Diana, Princess of Wales out of all global royals.
- She was once almost kidnapped and killed by an armed man who forced himself into her car and told her, "I want you to come with me for a day or two, because I want two million. Will you get out of the car?" Her response was "Not bloody likely — and I haven't got two million." Contrary to popular belief, she did not punch her attacker in the face, and considers herself lucky that she didn't, reasoning that "I nearly lost my temper with him, but I knew that if I did, I should hit him and he would shoot me." She's still considered tough as nails and no-nonsense in demeanour, but there's clearly a warm heart there if you're willing to get past the slightly icy facade.
Prince Andrew, Duke of York
Notable things about him:
- He was a career naval officer who flew helicopters in the Royal Navy and served in combat in The Falklands War before retiring as a commander. He's since received a number of ceremonial promotionsnote .
- His marriage and divorce of Sarah Ferguson was tabloid fodder for many years. But sadly for those looking for scandal, the separation and divorce was amicable, and not only are the two still friends, they even live beside each other. They shared custody of their two daughters Beatrice and Eugenie until they came of age (famous for winning the "Craziest Headgear Award" at every royal wedding, with Beatrice definitely winning◊ at Will and Kate's). In all respects, they pulled off an unbelievable transformation from tabloid fodder to model divorced couple — and then in 2010, Sarah got caught attempting to sell access to her ex-husband.
- Having only two daughters, he will likely continue a peculiar trend of every Duke of York since Edward IV either dying without a male heir or acceding the throne themselves, thus merging the title into the crown. The title has thus not been inherited since 1460.
- He was forced to step away from public royal duties in November 2019 thanks to his relationship with American financier Jeffrey Epstein, who had recently committed suicide in prison while facing charges of sex-trafficking of young girls and women. Prince Andrew had long had a general aura of shadiness about him and his murky dealings with foreign businessmen, but this blew it wide open, although given Epstein's suicide, it's unlikely that any connection to Andrew (if any) will be discovered. What really did Andrew in, though, was a widely-criticized and rather tone-deaf interview with the BBC about his relationship with Epstein, especially his total lack of remorse and failure to show even the faintest sympathy for Epstein's victims.
- In January 2022, further steps were taken, with the Palace releasing a statement confirming that his military titles and royal patronages had been returned to the Queen, with her approval, and that he would be facing trial as a private citizen. He will also stop using the style "His Royal Highness" in an official capacity.
Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex
Notable things about him:
- Upon marriage, royal princes often receive a dukedom from the monarch; however, on Edward's wedding day, he was given the title of "Earl of Wessex"note . He will take on his father's title of Duke of Edinburgh once his parents have both passed.note
- In his youth, he was dogged by rumours that he's gay, which were somewhat quieted when he married Sophie Rhys-Jones in 1999. Somewhat ironically given said rumours, Edward is the only one of his siblings who has not divorced. He and Sophie married in a relatively private ceremony (by royal standards) in St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle and by all accounts (and appearances) are still happily married. They have two children, Lady Louise Windsor, and James, Viscount Severn.
- He's long shown an interest in theatre and television production, going on to host several documentaries. His first foray into TV was It's a Royal Knockout, generally seen as a bit of a misstep.
- He gave up a career in the Royal Marines before it started so that he could get into the arts, to the disgust of Prince Phillip, and to great controversy elsewhere — in both cases, not so much because he was going into the arts, but because the Royal Marines had paid for Edward's university education with the understanding that he'd serve at least five years in exchange.
- In latter years, Edward has moulded into a quiet and efficient figure who doesn't appear to seek attention or acquire headlines. He and Sophie are respected for being dutiful and hard-working in support of the many charities they work with.
Sophie, Countess of Wessex
Consort of Prince Edward. She worked in public relations, but is now a full-time working royal.
- Other than a minor blip when she made "indiscreet remarks" about both British politicians and members of the royal family, which were later published, theres never been a whiff of scandal around her, and not for nothing is she known as the Queens favourite daughter-in-law.
- She's reportedly something of a mentor figure to Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, early in the latter's marriage as she adjusted to royal life — understandably so given Sophie's reputation as a model working royal.
- She and Edward have two children, who by right (as the Queen's grandchildren in the male line) can be called Prince and Princess of Wessex; but like his sister Anne, Edward chose not to burden them with royal titles, instead styling them like the children of an Earl. This makes them Lady Louise Windsor and James, Viscount Severn, the latter of whom is (by some measures) the highest-ranking person in the line of succession who does not have princely status.
- The patron of over 70 charities, many of which support avoidable blindness a cause close to her heart, as her daughter Lady Louise was born with an eye condition known as strabismus, which has since been corrected.
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge
Oldest son of Prince Charles, second in line for the throne, and hugely popular. Notable things about him:
- The future King was named Prince William Arthur Philip Louis, after "a bit of an argument", as his father Prince Charles good-humouredly once revealed. His mother Diana wanted John for her father, despite the fact it's held to be an unlucky royal namenote while Charles's "equally-problematic for a future British king" choice, Arthur, went second. Eventually they settled on William, after Charles's cousin Prince William of Gloucester, who died in a plane crash in 1972, followed by Philip in honour of Charles's father and Louis for the heir to the throne's beloved great-uncle (Louis Mountbatten), who was assassinated by the IRA in 1979.
- An accident in 1991 left the Prince with what he calls his "Harry Potter scar", still visible today. He got it when a school friend accidentally hit him on the forehead with a golf club during a game.
- As a young adult, he was actually considered a bit of a playboy who didn't take his responsibilities that seriously. He mellowed out considerably starting in 2009, and now there are more than a few semi-serious suggestions that he supersede his father and become King when his grandmother dies. While no one actually expects this to happen, polls have shown that it would be a reasonably popular idea — apparently to his father's significant displeasure.
- He served for five years in the British military, initially joining the Army but then transferring to become an RAF search and rescue pilot. He wanted to do something that let him go out into the field, but the Army wouldn't let a royal serve on the front lines. In 2008, he joined the Royal Air Force, later being presented with his RAF wings by his father. Despite his status, he was never immune to the famously scathing military banter; he was known by his fellow airmen as "Billy the Fish" (a pun on the name "William Wales"), and his colleagues would leave memorabilia with his face (and his wife's) strategically scattered all over the place.
- After leaving the military, he became an air ambulance pilot, becoming the first direct heir to the throne to take a job in the private sector.
- In 2011, he married his longtime girlfriend Catherine "Kate" Middleton in the biggest royal wedding since Charles and Diana, to widespread general approval. They have three children: Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis.
- He's a big sportsman, playing polo and supporting Aston Villa FC. He's also been President of the Football Association since 2006 and takes as active a role in that as his military, work, and royal duties will allow.
- Following in his mother's footsteps, William is a patron of Centrepoint, which was set up to help homeless people. To demonstrate the conditions faced by rough sleepers, he once bedded down incognito on the street in central London for a night, unbeknownst to the public until after event, which greatly raised the charity's profile.
- In spite of people really liking him now, they're also hoping he might kick off a British trend of abdicating in favour of a younger heir as seen elsewhere in Europe. On the other hand, there are people who relish the propriety of his reigning until age 84, when he would make it to 2066, the millennial anniversary of the Norman Conquest, given that he shares a name with William the Conqueror.
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge
William's consort, much beloved by the British people for her get-on-with-it attitude and magnetic beauty. Notable things about her:
- She met her future husband at the University of St Andrews where she also earned her degree in History of Art. They dated off and on (but mostly on) for eight years before he popped the question and they had a massive royal wedding. Their relationship has been so positively received that observers have noted the "Will and Kate effect", which has rehabilitated the image of the Royal Family as a whole and even led to people being more willing to put up with Charles as King for a while knowing that William and Kate are waiting in the wings. They're particularly well loved in Canada (a place perhaps desperate for a national symbol who doesn't remind them of their neighbours).
- Her wedding to William was nothing short of spectacular, featuring all the pomp and pageantry Britain prides itself on performing so well. Before a global audience of up to 2 billion, Kate played her part to perfection; from the Alexander McQueen dress to the 1936 Cartier diamond tiara loaned by the Queen, she looked every inch the fairytale princess.
- Since marrying Prince William, she's devoted herself to charity work and performing public duties on behalf of the royal family, while at the same time being a global fashion icon; in early 2020, research conducted by the Fashion Retail Academy has revealed that nearly half of those surveyed — an impressive 47.8% — voted her "most stylish royal".
- She's a former field hockey champion who parlayed that into frequent appearances at the 2012 Olympics in London as "Team GB ambassador" and effectively their lucky charm.
- Shes One of Us when it comes to Homeland, as well as Game of Thrones and Downton Abbey perhaps relating to the court intrigue and country house drama. Shes also a Mary Berry Fangirl and big Bake Off fan.
- The media seems to think her main role is royal babymaker. She's tried to ensure that her children can have as normal lives as possible, but it's not easy. In fact, all three of her pregnancies were leaked early because of complications,note which the media picked up on, so she never got to make a formal announcement of any of them, poor thing.
- She's got an impressive Death Glare that she occasionally breaks out when her children misbehave in public.
- Owner of the bounciest, most lustrous curls ever to bounce.
Prince Henry, Duke of Sussex
Prince Charles' formerly somewhat roguish second son. Notable things about him:
- In his youth, he had a reputation as a party animal, a womanizer, and a bit of an idiot, which made for some great tabloid fodder. Among his more embarrassing stunts were being caught partying naked in Las Vegasnote and showing up to a costume party dressed in a Nazi Afrika Korps uniform (complete with swastika armband). He had high-profile relationships with wealthy Zimbabwean Chelsy Davy and socialite Cressida Bonas which were also tabloid fodder. He had to work hard to rehabilitate his image, but he's very popular now and seen as an upstanding young prince. In particular, he's immensely popular with the ladies, and that might be in part because of his prior reputation as a bad boy.
- He's also done a lot of charity work, in particular working with fellow royal Prince Seeiso of Lesotho to help AIDS sufferers in southern Africa and championing causes for military veterans as well. Even the Queen herself, once disenchanted with his youthful exploits, has been reported to have called him her favourite grandchild.
- He is very much associated with the military. In his early military career, he had a reputation of being very much a typical soldier when it came to beer and women, but he grew out of that in the end. He really wanted to serve in active duty in Afghanistan and even threatened to make a scene if he couldn't do so, but there were issues with a prince being a high-profile target. The first solution was to keep his presence there secret, but that failed (blame the Aussie media). Then he asked if there was anything he could work on that was so high-profile of a target that it wouldn't matter if a prince was there, and they let him fly helicopter gunships. He left the military in 2015 to focus on his royal duties and charity work, but he kept up his affiliation through charity work. He caused a minor controversy when, speaking positively of his military experience, he suggested re-instituting national service in Britain. However, considering how his military service straightened him out, one can see his reasoning. He also created the Invictus Games, a multi-sport event for disabled soldiers and veterans from around the world (inspired by his experience seeing the Warrior Games in Colorado). He even got the Queen to promote the 2016 edition. Favourite grandchild indeed!
- He married American actress Meghan Markle, which caused a subdued tabloid kerfuffle. The main issue was that she was a divorcée (dredging up bad memories of Edward VIII and Princess Margaret) and biracial. It turned out not to be that big a deal because (a) the tabloids were mostly shouted down (although some of the public were disgustingly racist about it); (b) divorce is no longer seen as such a big deal (really, most of the talk was about how nobody was talking about her being divorced); and (c) Harry isn't nearly as close to the throne as the prior examples. They married on 19 May 2018.
- His wedding, unlike that of his older brother, mostly lacked any political or foreign royal guests — the few who were were close to Harry personally.note "Officially", this is because Harry, unlike William, was not a future monarch, and there was thus no need for them to attend. However, it's widely believed that Harry wanted to invite his friend Barack Obama, but for diplomatic reasons, this couldn't be done without also inviting then-current U.S. President Donald Trump, who was hugely unpopular with the British publicnote , and all foreign politicians had to be uninvited to save face. Among those who did attend the wedding were Harry's two ex-girlfriends Chelsy Davy and Cressida Bonas.
- He's been dogged by low-level but persistent rumours that his is not Charles' son, but rather the product of one of Princess Diana's several affairs. It doesn't help that he very much gets his looks from his mother's side — he's the spitting image of his maternal uncle Earl Spencer. He then grew a beard, which demonstrated a similarity to his grandfather Prince Philip and his great-great-grandfather King George V (and also the similarly red-haired and bearded Henry VIII, though hopefully without the whole multiple wives business).
- He holds an extremely poor opinion of the tabloid press — after all, they obsessed over his mother's death (which he blames them for, and not without reason), his own youthful hijinks, and their increasingly obsessive coverage of his wife (including her pregnancy and her relationship with her estranged father), the latter of which was often tinged with a streak of racism. In 2019, he and Meghan sued the Mail on Sunday for publishing one of Meghan's private letters; he issued a lengthy statement explaining that he could see the press doing to his wife what they did to his mother. Citing continuing press scrutiny, in January 2020, he and Meghan stepped down as senior members of the Royal Family, relinquishing their "HRH" titles (he's now styled "Harry, Duke of Sussex"). This means that the couple no longer represent the Queen or receive public funds for their royal duties. This announcement blindsided everyone in the family (although they may have been trying to head off a leak in the press — the Queen revealed that they were up to speed for a while beforehand) and led to extensive negotiations about what their future would be, including the possibility of the couple moving part-time to Canada, before eventually moving to Los Angeles. Donald Trump promptly declared that the U.S. wouldn't pay for their security...prompting a response saying that nobody asked. In February 2021, the palace confirmed that Harry and Meghan would not return as working members of the Royal Family, meaning that their honorary military appointments and royal patronages will be returned and redistributed.
Prince Harry's wife, an American actress best known for her role as Rachel Zane in Suits, so unlike her husband, she's got her own page.
- She met Harry on a blind date set up by a mutual friend, and for both of them, it was Love at First Sight. They were engaged after only a year of dating (or, as the press put it, she won the game of "I Want to Marry Harry").
- She's been hailed as the "first black American princess", and technically is the "first black American princess" of the British Royal Family. (Interesting Side Note: Princess Angela, wife of Prince Maximillian of Liechtenstein, is an American woman of Afro-Panamanian descent.)
- She is the first divorcée to marry into the British Royal Family without much fuss. Edward VIII famously abdicated the throne in order to marry his own American divorcée Wallis Simpson, and the Queen's sister Princess Margaret was in a highly controversial relationship with (but never married) divorcé Peter Townsend. The public has been more willing to accept her, though, and didn't make a big deal about her having been divorced.
- She got pregnant five months after their wedding, apparently wanting children as soon as possible. Understandable, as she was in her late thirties when she got married, and already older than her sister-in-law Catherine, who had already had three children.
- Following her marriage, she became an extremely polarizing figure:
- She became a favourite of international audiences for her absolute avoidance of the royal family's infamous Stiff Upper Lip and her charity works with Harry as well as her blossoming role as a fashion icon.
- The UK tabloid press were less enamoured, and Meghan came under scrutiny ever since the public announcement of her relationship with Harry, to the point that Harry had published multiple public statements and even a lawsuit condemning their treatment. Just a year after her wedding, she became more and more of a divisive figure for the British public, with some still admiring her free-spirited, shake-up-the-system attitude, but many others considering her to be too progressive, oversensitive, and overly-entitled for a role in the traditional monarchy. This can be best exemplified by the extreme divisive reaction to her and Harry's interview with Oprah Winfrey on March 7th, 2021. US and UK's reception and coverage to the interview are widely different.
- She and Harry withdrew from royal duties in 2020, citing their treatment at the hands of the tabloids as amongst the main reasons. This just sparked further controversy, with suggestions that she was separating Harry from the people (and country) with whom he belonged — some called it "Megxit"note , suggesting it was all her fault. Others have blamed the tabloids and the their constant reporting on her and Harry's life, some also claiming that the tabloids coverage was racist. She is now styled "Meghan, Duchess of Sussex".
Princess Beatrice, Mrs Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi
The eldest daughter of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson.
- Probably best known for her penchant for a mad hat, as seen at her cousin Prince Williams wedding, where she wore what can only be described as a lobster on her head.
- Known to be a good laugh and an engaging party guest, the princess and her now-husband are mainstays of the aristocratic social circuit — no other royal so frequently appears in Tatler's bystander party-pages. At venerable London clubs like Annabels, its possible to plonk yourself down only to find yourself sitting next to a princess.
- Beatrice was the first member of the family to appear in a non-documentary film when she had a small, non-speaking role as an extra in The Young Victoria, which depicted the accession and early reign of her ancestor, Queen Victoria.
- Always seemingly keen to hold down a real job as well as being a Princess, as of April 2017, she works full-time and splits her time between London and New York City. She is known as Beatrice York in her professional life and works as the Vice President of Partnerships and Strategy at Afiniti, a Washington-based software company.
- She married dashing British-Italian aristocrat, Conte Edoardo Mappelli Mozzi of Bergamo, in a private ceremony at Windsor Castle in mid July 2020, as their original May wedding plans were scuppered by the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic. As his titles aren't recognized by the United Kingdom (or by Italy, really, since it's a republic these days), they are not included in the princess' official style.
- She gave birth to her and Edo's first child, daughter Sienna Elizabethnote , in September 2021. In addition to her daughter, Beatrice is one of the few royals of the world to have a stepchild. Her stepson, Christopher Woolf (known as 'Wolfie'), was his fathers best man, and Beatrice has talked extensively about how much Wolfie means to her.
Princess Eugenie, Mrs Jack Brooksbank
The youngest daughter of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson.
- She was the first royal baby to have a public christening and the only one of the Queen's grandchildren not to be baptised in the Lily Font in the Tower of London.
- She's one of the most well-known members of the royal family, and yet, for some reason, there's still a bit of confusion when it comes to pronouncing her name. She's been called everything from "you-JAY-nee" to "you-jenny," and while it's not likely that people are intentionally butchering her name, it's about time we start getting it right: her name is pronounced "YOO-juh-nee," with an emphasis on the "yoo". As she herself has said, it's most similar to saying "use your knee", in the appropriate royal British accent.
- In October 2002, the 12-year-old Eugenie underwent back surgery to correct scoliosis; two 12-inch titanium rods were put in her back. She made a full recovery and proudly displayed her scars in her backless gown at her wedding to Jack Brooksbank in 2019.
- She and Jack welcomed their first child, a son named August Philip Hawkenote , in February 2021.
- These days, she works in London as a director of Hauser & Wirth, a contemporary art gallery.
Only son of Anne, Princess Royal, and her first husband Mark Phillips.
- You don't hear about him very much, because he keeps a low profile as a mid-to-upper level corporate executive, having worked for Jaguar, Williams F1, and the Royal Bank of Scotland.
- Like his sister, Peter has no royal title because his mother didn't want her children to grow up with any. And because, by default, female-line grandchildren of the sovereign are not entitled to them by right of their mother, although the Queen could have issued letters patent circumventing this, as her own father did for her children. Phillips was the first legitimate grandchild of a monarch in more than 500 years to be born without a title, or courtesy title.
- The only time he really hit the news was when he got married: his Canadian fiancée Autumn Kelly had to convert from Catholicism to Anglicanism in order to keep him and their prospective children in line for the throne, which touched off debates about the Commonwealth's succession laws.
- Other than that, only really notable for giving the Queen her first two great-grandchildren, Savannah Anne Kathleen and Isla Elizabeth Phillips.
Daughter of Princess Anne, with a couple of interesting things to say about her:
- Like her mother, she took up competitive eventing, and was even better at it. She reigned as Eventing World Champion from 2006 to 2010, but was unable to defend her title after some horrifically bad luck with her horse. She made up for it and then some, though, by winning an Olympic silver in eventing at the 2012 Olympics — which were not only held in London, but which saw her mother handing out the medals, which Britain found warmly amusing. She also won "Sports Personality of the Year" in 2006.
- In June 2011, she married Mike Tindall, who at the time was captain of the England national Rugby Union team. They're somewhat unusual among the royals for being affectionate in public and being willing to do casual public appearances, such as jointly appearing on Top Gear (UK)'s "Star in a Reasonably Fast Car" challenge. They have three children: Mia Grace, Lena Elizabeth, and Lucas Philip. Lucas is the lowest-ranked person in the line of succession who is a direct descendant of Elizabeth II.
- She turns up in, of all things, the comic book V for Vendetta, as Queen Zara, with all those above her in line having been killed in a nuclear war. The comic was written when she was a toddler and set in the then-future of 1997, when she would have been 16 years old.
Lady Louise Windsor
The eldest child of Prince Edward and Sophie Rhys-Jones.
- Lady Louise and her brother, below, are styled as the children of an Earl (taken from their fathers title, Earl of Wessex) despite their right to princely status via their father, as per their first cousins princes William & Harry and princesses Beatrice & Eugenie. Their parents wanted them to grow up without the burden of HRH status, so although Louise is legally entitled to the style 'HRH Princess Louise of Wessex', it is (as of her 18th birthday) up to her whether or not she chooses to use the style and so far she has not.
- A sweet, rather wholesome girl (shes a keen Guider), shes (perhaps luckily) avoided the press-scrutiny of other royal children and generally remains out of the spotlight, compared to her cousins. Her biggest presence in the headlines — perhaps fortunately for her given the ravenous nature of British tabloids — came at her birth, when she was born four weeks prematurely by emergency Caesarean after her mother suffered a placental abruption. Fortunately for all concerned, neither she nor Sophie seem to have suffered any lasting effects.
- A keen Upper-Class Equestrian, her main passion is carriage-driving, a sport popularised in Britain by her grandfather, Prince Philip.
James, Viscount Severn
The youngest child of Prince Edward and Sophie Rhys-Jones.
- Like his sister, hes entitled to the style HRH Prince James of Wessex, but his parents didnt want to burden him with princely status. Hes therefore styled with one of his fathers subsidiary titles Viscount Severn. Legally, hes still a prince of royal blood and at 18 he can decide if he wants to use his princely title.
- The title Viscount Severn acknowledges the Welsh roots of his mothers family; the River Severn rises in Wales.
Prince George of Cambridge
First son of Prince William, third in line for the throne, and the last direct heir to the throne (i.e. no one can ever displace him in the line of succession). Notable things about him:
- His birth marks the first time since 1901 that the Sovereign and three generations of direct heirs have all been alive at the same time. On 21 February 2020, this stretch of overlapping lifespans officially exceeded the duration that Victoria, Edward VII, George V, and Edward VIII were all alive at once (2,404 days).
- He is the first person ever to have an entry about him on The Other Wiki prior to his own birth. The only other two to have that honour are his younger siblings.
- He could, conceivably, be styled King George VIII, tying George with Edward as the most frequent regnal names for post-Norman monarchs.note (This would require Charles to go for "George VII".)
- He's the subject of a curious trend of satirical articles describing him as secretly evolving into an evil overlord in the style of Prince Joffrey.
- He's adorable. And he's definitely got the stuff to be a royal, with a very solemn look and having already mastered the "royal wave" that the Queen does all the time. He broke a few people while serving as a pageboy at his uncle Harry's wedding.
Princess Charlotte of Cambridge
Fourth in line to the throne, and unlike her great-aunt Princess Anne, cannot be displaced by any younger brothers, thanks to the Succession to the Crown Act 2013 allowing absolute primogeniture for anyone born after 2011 — i.e. now it doesn't have to be male-line descendents.
- A strong challenger to her brother's title for most adorable royal baby, nearly outdoing his performance at Harry's wedding by serving as a bridesmaid in the same event. She's done in only by her apparent determination to prove Winston Churchill's statement that all babies look like him. (She is actually distantly related to him, through her grandmother Diana.)
- As she's grown older, her resemblance to her father's side of the family is striking, and she sports the classic "Windsor look" shared by HM the Queen, The Princess Royal and most striking of all her older cousin Lady Sarah Chatto, daughter of the late Princess Margaret, to whom she's a veritable mini-me.
- According to William and Kate, it's Charlotte who wears the pants where her siblings are concerned.
Prince Louis of Cambridge
The third child and second son of Prince William, and the first to be affected by the Succession to the Crown Act 2013, meaning he cannot jump his older sister in line for the throne.
- He is the first British royal ever to have the first name Louisnote , a name associated for centuries with French royals. His other names not including "Albert" marks the end of a tradition in which the second son in the direct line of succession is given that name (Victoria's second son Prince Alfred, Edward VII's second son George V, George V's second son George VI, Elizabeth II's second son Prince Andrew, and Prince Charles's second son Prince Harry all have the first or middle name "Albert").
- Not much to say about him yet (other than he's an absolute cherub), but he established his own adorable creds in a video of him and his siblings asking questions of David Attenborough on the family Instagram account, which caused national (and international) delight as it was possibly the first time he'd spoken in public when he adorably asked Attenborough what his favourite animal was.
Already notable in a few ways:
- He's the first member of the royal blood with African ancestry, causing eager anticipation of his conception and birth by Britain's black population.
- His parents claimed on an interview with Oprah Winfrey, there were concerns from an unnamed member of the Royal Family (that Harry only confirmed isn't the Queen or Prince Phillip) about the then-unborn Archie's skin color will affect the Family's reputation. Some quickly pointed out the Unfortunate Implications of this train of thought; others pointed out it could easily have been innocent conjecture as to who he'd take after. The fact his parents refused to say what exactly was said or who said it, and gave differing accounts of when it was said, further added to the controversy,
- He's the first member of the Royal Family to be entitled to American citizenship by birthright. He could, theoretically, be the King or the President of the United States — but for the latter, he'd have to meet the residency requirement and probably renounce his claim to the throne as well.note
- More positively, he's already established adorable creds on a trip to South Africa, when he caused Archbishop Desmond Tutu to short-circuit a little through sheer cuteness.
- Queen Elizabeth's 11th great-grandchild.
- Born in California, she is the most senior royal in the line of succession to have been born overseas.
The following individuals are less well-known, but are nonetheless members of what constitutes the British Royal Family in their capacity as Queen Elizabeth's first cousins and cousins-in-law. All use royal styles and are entitled to the style His or Her Royal Highness:
Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester
The prince is the youngest grandchild of King George V and Queen Mary and sits at 27th in line to the throne. A quiet man who isn't that well-known, even to native Brits.
- He graduated from Cambridge with a degree in architecture, and had become a partner at a London architecture firm by 1972, when his older brother, Prince William (the namesake of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge), died in a flying accident. Afterwards, he resigned from the firm and took on increased royal duties. In 1974, he succeeded his father as the Duke of Gloucester.
- Architecture remains his passion, and many of The Dukes Patronages are related to architecture and conservation. He was elected a corporate member of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1972 and is President of the Scottish Society of the Architect-Artists.
- Being the current Duke of Gloucester, he is also reasonably the patron of the Richard III Society (who was after all his great-umpty-great-uncle). The discovery of the Plantagenet king's remains in 2012 leading to his reburial in 2015, therefore, involved him closely.
Birgitte, Duchess of Gloucester
Born in Odense, Denmark, she met her husband Prince Richard at Cambridge.
- Undoubtedly one of the unsung heroes of the British Royal Family. Together with her husband, she carries out extensive engagements and charity work in support of the Royal Family without any media fanfare.
- The couple have three children together: the Earl of Ulster, Lady Davina Lewis, and Lady Rose Gilman. All three of their children are married and have children of their own. None, however, are working royals.
Prince Edward, Duke of Kent
He is a first cousin of Queen Elizabeth II through their fathers, Prince George, Duke of Kent and King George VI. He is 37th in line to the throne and older brother to Princess Alexandra and Prince Michael.
- He's probably best known as president of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, and he and his wife are a familiar sight, presenting the trophies to the Wimbledon champion and runner-up.
- His other passion is the history of warfare, and he works to ensure the sacrifice made during the conflicts of the first and second World Wars stays front of mind in his capacity as the President of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
- He had a twenty-year career in the British Army, serving in the Royal Scots Greys and retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel. He's since been given the honorary rank of Field Marshall. He is also the Royal Colonel of the Scots Guards and can be seen riding on horseback at the annual Trooping of the Colour.
- On a slightly shadier (but no less awesome) level, he is also the Grand Master of the English Freemasons.
Katharine, Duchess of Kent
Consort of the Duke of Kent and something of a fashion icon in The '70s, known for her big, blonde hairdo. Her contribution to Royal life has been one carried out steadily and without much press coverage over the years.
- Many will only know her as the lady who stood at the Wimbledon Tennis Championship Finals every year to hand out the prizes, famously having Jana Novotna cry on her shoulder in 1993.
- Within the Royal Family, she is quite unusual for having converted to Catholicism in 1994 with the Queen's blessing; the first member of the royal family to convert publicly since the passing of the Act of Settlement 1701. Since the Act of Succession doesn't say anything about marrying non-Catholics who subsequently convert, her husband the Duke kept his place in line.
- She has never forgotten her Yorkshire roots, and in April 1988 the City of York granted her its highest honour by making her a Freeman of the City.
- She also had the opportunity to sing with the Bach Choir, as a Soprano.
- She supposedly had one of the highest wardrobe budgets of any royal during The '80s.
Princess Alexandra, The Honourable Lady Ogilvy
Born to Prince George, Duke of Kent, and Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark, she is the Queen's first cousin and a sister to Prince Edward and Prince Michael. 53rd in line to the throne.
- The name Christabel was added to commemorate the fact that she was born on Christmas Day.
- Another tireless patron of charitable institutions and the arts, with special affiliations for mental health, palliative care and cancer charities.
- Was the subject of a low-level scandal after rifts appeared in the family when her daughter Marina Ogilvy, something of a royal rebel, became pregnant out of wedlock. Although Marina later married the child's father, Paul Mowatt, relations with her parents continued to deteriorate. They became totally estranged when Marina talked to the newspapers about their bad relations, claiming that her parents had wanted her to have an abortion rather than allow the scandal of her pregnancy become public knowledge. A family reconciliation was brought about, but Marina's marriage to Paul Mowatt ended in a very public divorce.
Prince Michael of Kent
He is a first cousin of Queen Elizabeth II through their fathers, Prince George, Duke of Kent and King George VI. He is 48th in line to the throne and younger brother to Princess Alexandra and Prince Edward. He and his wife are probably the best known of this group, though not necessarily for positive reasons:
- First things first; so why is he styled "Prince" when his older brother Edward is styled with the "lower" rank of Duke? In the British Royal Family, a son of a monarch is a royal prince and is given the title of duke on his marriage. Prince Michaels father, Prince George, was made Duke of Kent when he married Princess Marina of Greece, Prince Michaels mother. The title Duke of Kent was inherited by Prince Michaels older brother. If his parents had more sons they would also have had the title of Prince, with only the eldest inheriting the ducal title.
- Was probably the last person in the BRF to marry a divorcée and have it cause any fuss, however due to Marie-Christine also being Catholic, he therefore lost his place in the line of succession from 1978 until 2013.
- Has a passion for all things Russian, and is fluent in the language — likely due to his ancestrynote . His DNA was used to identify the body of the Tsar and some of his family in 1991.
- However, due to being born on the Fourth of July in the middle of World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt was asked to be his godfather. And FDR accepted, making Michael probably the only prince who can claim an American president as such.
- Despite his siblings' prominence, neither Prince Michael nor his wife is considered a working member of the Royal Familynote , only doing the odd engagement occasionally — which has drawn sharp criticism after it was revealed that they live in a grace-and-favour apartment in Kensington Palace. In fact, it was claimed in 2002 that Prince Michael was obliged to pay just £69 per week for the use of his apartment, which caused public outcry.
Princess Michael of Kent
Consort of Prince Michael and a... contentious figure. Nicknamed "Princess Pushy" in some royal circles, she has been considered controversial for her family history and a number of personal faux pas, detailed below:
- She was born Baroness Marie Christine Anna Agnes Hedwig Ida von Reibnitz in Karlsbad, Nazi Germany.
- Though she can trace her lineage back to French kings and queens and German and Hungarian nobility, her background still raised some eyebrows. She was born shortly before the defeat of Nazi Germany to Baron Günther Hubertus von Reibnitz, who was a member of the Nazi party, serving as a Major in World War II.
- The issue of titles in the royal family is a slightly complex one, which leads to Prince and Princess Michael of Kent seemingly sharing a name. By marrying a Prince she has the right to style herself as a Princess, but because she wasn't born into the royal family, she's not allowed to simply add the title to her birth name, Marie Christine. Instead, she simply inherits the feminine version of her husband's title and name (think of it as a somewhat more elaborate version of the tradition of women taking their husband's last names).
- She's infamous for a number of personal faux pas, some of which seemed to show a racist streak. She once showed up to a luncheon that Meghan Markle was attending wearing a very offensive blackamoor brooch (a style of jewelry that caricatures Africans and has a deep-rooted history in colonialism), but her publicist claimed it was an honest mistake. In 2004, while visiting a restaurant in New York City, she screamed at a table of African-American diners that they were too loud and they should "go back to the colonies". And she's rumoured to keep two black sheep on her estate named "Venus" and "Serena".
- Evidently she's not particularly popular within her family given her reputation as part of The Proud Elite; the Queen once wryly commented that Princess Michael is a bit too grand for us. Prince Charles calls the Kents the rent-a-Kents. Princess Margaret apparently refused to speak to Princess Michael for yearsnote . Princess Margarets son, David, Viscount Linley, was once asked what he would wish on his worst enemy, and he replied, dinner with Princess Michael. It's unsurprising, really, as in the past she has publicly referred to older members of the royal family as "dull", called the Princess of Wales "uneducated", and claimed that she had "more royal blood in her veins than any person to marry into the royal family since Prince Philip"note .
- She has also written history books but has been accused of plagiarism in at least two of them.
- To end on a positive note, she has had a life-long passion for the conservation of cheetahs and is international royal patron for the Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia.
Line of Succession
Under the Acts of Settlement 1701 and 1703, the line of succession to the British throne used to use male-preference primogeniture. In practice, this meant that any male children automatically went before the female children, even if the sister was older. Catholics and people who married Catholicsnote were also excluded. This was changed in 2013 to absolute primogeniture, meaning the oldest child inherits, no matter what gender; people who married Catholics were also restored, although actual Catholics remained barred (not out of any dislike for Catholics, mind, but because the monarch is by definition Head of the Church of England and protector of the Church of Scotland, so it would be absurd for the monarch to also be a Catholic). However, the gender aspect only applies to any children after 2011. Another change in the succession laws concerns royal approval of marriages — before 2013, anyone in the line of succession was (technically) required to receive royal approval before any marriage in order to remain in the line, but now, only the first six individuals in the line of successionnote require such approval.
Descendants of Queen Elizabeth II (b 1926)
1. Charles, Prince of Wales (b 1948) first son of the Queen
9. Prince Andrew, Duke of York (b 1960) second son of the Queen
14. Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex (b 1964) third son of the Queen
17. Anne, Princess Royal (b 1950) only daughter of the Queen
Descendants of Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon (1930—2002)
25. David Armstrong-Jones, 2nd Earl of Snowdon (b 1961) only son of Princess Margaret
28. Lady Sarah Chatto (b 1964) only daughter of Princess Margaret
Descendants of Prince Henry, (1st) Duke of Gloucester (King George VI's younger brother) (1900—1974)
Prince William of Gloucester (1941—1972) first son of Prince Henry, died unmarried and with no children before his father
31. Prince Richard, (2nd) Duke of Gloucester (b 1944) second son of Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester
Descendants of Prince George, (1st) Duke of Kent (King George VI's younger brother) (1902—1942)
41. Prince Edward, (2nd) Duke of Kent (b 1935) elder son of Prince George, Duke of Kent
49. Prince Michael of Kent (b 1942) younger son of Prince George, Duke of Kent
54. Princess Alexandra, Lady Ogilvy (b 1936) only daughter of Prince George, Duke of Kent
Descendants of Princess Mary, Princess Royal/Countess of Harewood (King George VI's younger sister) (1897—1965)
George Lascelles, 7th Earl of Harewood (1923—2011) elder son of Princess Mary
The Hon. Gerald Lascelles (1924—1998) younger son of Princess Mary
The line continues with the descendants of King Edward VII and so on, all the way back to King George I (the Act of Settlement 1701 specifies that the descendants of Electress Sophia of Hanover are eligible for the throne; however, only two of her children (George I and Sophia Charlotte) had children, and the only son of Sophia Charlotte married Sophia Dorothea, his cousin and George I's daughter, so all those alive today are also descended from George I).
Since Queen Victoria had nine children, most of whom married other European monarchs, princes, and nobles, it is natural that nearly all the current European monarchs are, or could potentially be, in the line of succession. That's why she was nicknamed the "Grandmother of Europe". For much the same reason, there are also monarchs in the list who are not her descendants, but those of (in reverse chronological order) George III; Prince Frederick, Prince of Wales (who never became king since he died before his father, George II) and George II. George I's daughter Sophia Dorothea is not included, as presently there are no monarchs among her descendants (though there are some pretenders of abolished monarchies).
- King Harald V of Norway (b 1937), great-grandson of King Edward VII, second cousin of the Queen — 86th in line. Descended from:
- King Edward VII —> Queen Maud of Norway —> Olav V of Norway —> Harald V of Norway
- King Alexander II of Yugoslavia (b 1945), great-great-great-grandson of Queen Victoria, third cousin once removed of the Queen (and first cousin twice removed of Prince Philip) — c. 110/120 in the line. Descended from:
- Queen Victoria —> Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha —> Queen Marie of Romania —> Queen Maria of Yugoslavia —> Peter II of Yugoslavia —> Alexander II of Yugoslavia
- King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden (b 1946), great-great-grandson of Queen Victoria, third cousin of the Queen — c. 200/210 in the line. Descended from:
- Queen Victoria —> Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn —> Princess Margaret, Crown Princess of Sweden —> Prince Gustaf Adolf, Duke of Västerbotten —> King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden
- Queen Margrethe II of Denmark (b 1940), great-great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria, third cousin of the Queen — c. 230/240 in the line. Descended from:
- Queen Victoria —> Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn —> Princess Margaret, Crown Princess of Sweden —> Queen Ingrid of Denmark —> Margrethe II of Denmark
- King Constantine II of Greece (b 1940), great-great grandson of Queen Victoria, third cousin of the Queen — c. 430/440 in the line. Descended from:
- Queen Victoria —> Victoria, German Empress —> Queen Sophia of Greece —> Paul of Greece —> Constantine II of Greece
- King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands (b 1967), descendant of King George II, fifth cousin twice removed of the Queen — c. 800 in the line. Descended from:
- King George II —> Princess Anne, Princess of Orange —> William V, Prince of Orange —> William I of the Netherlands —> William II of the Netherlands —> William III of the Netherlands —> Wilhelmina of the Netherlands —> Juliana of the Netherlands —> Beatrix of the Netherlands —> Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands
The Act of Settlement 1701 barred anyone who was Catholic or married to a Catholic from taking the British throne. This bar stood until 2013, when the Succession to the Throne Act 2013 deleted the bit about people married to Catholics being barred from the throne. Actual Catholics, though, remain forbidden, for the practical reason that the monarch is also Supreme Governor of the Protestant Church of England and a "protector" of the even more Protestant Church of Scotland. (This notably leads to the strangeness that the monarch seemingly changes religions every time they enter or leave Scotland. A few kind of prefer the Scottish way, though.) None of this kept the later descendants of British monarchs from marrying Catholic royals (and "recusant" British Catholic nobles), and so quite a few Catholic monarchs would be in the line were they not Catholic.
- King Juan Carlos I of Spain (b 1938; abdicated 2014, retains "King" as a courtesy title despite no longer being on the throne) and his son King Felipe VI of Spain (b 1968) would be somewhere in the 700ish range, with Felipe immediately following his father. Juan Carlos is a great-great-grandson of Queen Victoria and third cousin of the Queen. Interestingly, the Spanish monarchs are agnatic Bourbons—that is, descendants of the ruling house of France during the height of Anglo-French contention in the 18th century. Descended from:
- Queen Victoria —> Princess Beatrice —> Queen Victoria Eugenie of Spain —> Infante (Prince) Juan, Count of Barcelona —> Juan Carlos I of Spain —> Felipe VI of Spain
- Phillipe, King of the Belgians (b 1960), who is a descendant of Prince Frederick, Prince of Walesnote (and a first cousin of Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg through their grandmother, Astrid of Sweden, Queen of the Belgians) would be somewhere in the 1300/1400 range. Fun fact: the Belgian and British monarchies are even more closely related, as they are both agnatically of the House of [Wettin von] Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (name later changed on account of a nasty family squabble): the first Belgian King Leopold I was Queen Victoria's maternal uncle (as well as her husband Albert's paternal one). However, this closer relationship doesn't count, since it's not descent from Sophia. (With the accession of Prince Charles Britain will switch to being agnatic Oldenburgs.) Descended from:
- Prince Frederick, Prince of Wales —> Duchess Augusta of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel —> Princess Augusta of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel —> Prince Paul of Württemberg note —> Pauline, Duchess of Nassau —> Sophia, Queen of Sweden and Norway —> Prince Carl, Duke of Västergötland —> Astrid of Sweden, Queen of the Belgians —> Albert II of Belgium —> Phillipe of Belgium
- Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg (b 1955), who is a descendant of Prince Frederick, Prince of Wales (and a first cousin of Phillipe of Belgium), would also be somewhere in the 1300/1400 range. Like the Spanish monarchs, an agnatic Bourbon (of the cadet line of Bourbon-Parma). Descended from:
- Prince Frederick, Prince of Wales —> Duchess Augusta of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel —> Princess Augusta of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel —> Prince Paul of Württemberg —> Pauline, Duchess of Nassau —> Sophia, Queen of Sweden and Norway —> Prince Carl, Duke of Västergötland —> Astrid of Sweden, Queen of the Belgians —> Joséphine Charlotte, Grand Duchess of Luxembourg —> Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg