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 monarchy.note Living life in the spotlight and under scrutiny, the British royals continue 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 certain members of The Commonwealth, known as Commonwealth Realms) King Charles III presides over a family that can, quite charitably, be described as a mix of competent, respected individuals and tabloid fodder. In 1649, it was determined whether true power should rest with the monarchy or an elected parliament 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, Mauritius, and most recently Barbados, have already broken away from the British-born monarchy. Some views toward the monarchy in the Commonwealth:
- The Jamaican government has declared its intent to remove the monarch as head of state by 2025, 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 monarchy 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 constitution 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. The current PM, Anthony Albanese, is also a republican, but decided not to have a referendum on the matter in his first term out of respect to the late Elizabeth II.
- Canada (besides the maverick province 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.) Even Pierre Trudeau (who, significantly, was a francophone Québecois, albeit a devotedly federalist one), noted to to have regarded the monarchy with "bemused contempt",note put down any talk of a Canadian republic as idle nonsense. There's also support for the monarchy from Canada's First Nations, as the treaties and agreements that protect their sovereignty and rights are with the Crown rather than the Canadian government. It also helps that the Canadian Constitution requires unanimous consent of all the Canadian provinces´ legislatures and a majority of the House of Commons 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 (the last governor-general also later became the first 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 discoursenote , 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 providing 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.
- More recently, empirical political-science research suggests that a country that has a parliamentary constitutional monarchy is usually better off keeping it, for two main reasons:
- Preserving the system as a parliamentary democracy, which (according to these political scientists) is a superior way of doing democracy as compared to presidential and semi-presidential systems. Keeping the political executive responsible to the legislative majority ensures that the government is able to respond to changing events and public opinion, and has numerous other benefits (for full details, read Why Not Parliamentarism? by the Brazilian scholar Tiago Ribiera Dos Santos). The case for monarchy from this is that while parliamentary republics are a thing, they are relatively rare, for the very good reason that there's always a temptation in a republic to give the head of state some "real" power (shading into French-style semi-presidentialism). However, parliamentary systems work best when the head of state is a pure figurehead, which is much easier to maintain with a monarchy.
- Paradoxically, the undemocratic nature of the monarchy means constitutional monarchs are more likely to make the "democratic" decision in a crisis. The analysis is complicated, but in essence, constitutional monarchs who know what they're doing know they lack any democratic legitimacy to interfere in the decisions of the elected government and so studiously defer to the elected government at every turn. The heads of state of parliamentary republics are less likely to do so, as they are usually elected directly or indirectly in some way and so feel they have some democratic mandate to actually exercise the powers nominally granted to them in the constitution.
- 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. King Charles has been vocal about how he intends to trim the number of working royals and reduce the amount of money that the family receives from British taxpayers. This was evident during the Trooping the Colour in 2022 (after his mother relinquished many royal duties to him but before he became King), when the balcony appearance featured a much smaller group (limited to Senior Royals) than in previous years.
Although a large and sprawling family, the current membership of the House of Windsor is generally considered to refer mainly to:
King Charles III
King since the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, on 8 September 2022. He has his own page, which can be viewed here.
Formerly Camilla Parker Bowles (née Shand); she was the First Love and long-term mistress of King Charles before finally marrying him in 2005, with Queen Elizabeth II'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.
- In a very strange coincidence, her great-grandmother Alice Keppel was The Mistressnote of The Casanova Prince of Wales-turned-King Edward VII (her husband's great-great grandfather).note
- 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's 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 in 2005, it was announced that she would take the title "HRH The Princess Consort" when Charles ascended the throne, likely to remedy apprehensions of a divorced woman and former mistress becoming queen.note In 2022, Queen Elizabeth released a statement saying it was her "sincere wish" that Camilla become queen consort in recognition of her loyal service, which very much settled the matter. Following the death of her mother-in-law, the palace referred to her as exactly that — "The Queen Consort". The "consort" was dropped the following year after the coronation.
- She is the first queen to have been previously married since Catherine Parr, who was widowed twice before marrying Henry VIII in the 16th century, and the first queen to have a living former spouse since Eleanor of Aquitaine in the 12th century, whose marriage to Louis VII of France had been annulled.
- She was crowned with the crown of Queen Mary (Charles' great-grandmother) rather than having her own original consort crown created, which had been precedent since the coronation of Queen Adelaide in 1831.
Anne, Princess Royal
The King's one and only sister. 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 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 Charles' sons. As of June 2023, she is 17th in line for the throne; the succession law updates in 2013 only apply to dynasts born after that date, so her younger brothers and their descendants will remain ahead of her and her descendants.
- In 1974, she was almost kidnapped by a disturbed, armed man who held up her car when she was with her first husband, shot several people around them, 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 (although her dress was ripped in the struggle) 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." Anne recounted it all several years later with what can only be described as Nerves of Steel — or at least seeming far more matter-of-fact remembering than most people would be. (Being Philip, her father naturally remarked that if the kidnapper had actually gotten Anne, the kidnapper would have had to be concerned for his own safety — from her alone.)
- 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 (out of seven private secretaries, only twonote have served long enough to reach double digits and by significant margins compared to the rest). 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.note
- 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.
- She was involved in a moderate scandal when Affair Letters between her and equerry Timothy Laurence were stolen and publicized, however due to her brothers' marriages imploding around the same time and Anne marrying Laurence relatively shortly afterwards and remaining seemingly Happily Married to him decades later, it's not well-remembered.
- She is the first and so far only member of the family with a criminal record; she appeared in court, pled guilty and paid a fine after a dog of hers attacked two children in 2002.
- 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 to Diana, Princess of Wales out of all global royals.
- 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 façade.
Prince Andrew, Duke of York
The older of the King's two younger brothers. Notable things about him:
- Though the third child of Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, he was the first to be born during his mother's reign and the first member of the British Royal Family to be "born in the purple"note in over a century, since Queen Victoria's youngest child Princess Beatrice in 1857.
- 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 promotions.note
- His marriage to and divorce from Sarah Ferguson were tabloid fodder for many years. However the separation and divorce were amicable, and the two still live in the same house at Royal Lodge. They shared custody of their two daughters Beatrice and Eugenie until they came of age. 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 friendship with American financier Jeffrey Epstein, who had committed suicide three months prior 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 programme Newsnight about his relationship with Epstein, especially his total lack of remorse and failure to show even the faintest sympathy for Epstein's victims, after which several of his charities and patronages announced they would no longer associate with him, resulting in the official response.
- 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 a civil sexual assault trial against his accuser Virginia Giuffre as a private citizen. The lawsuit was settled prior to the Platinum Jubilee for an undisclosed sum, however Andrew still remains Persona Non Grata as far anything not strictly family is concerned (he is at the very bottom of the Royal Family website).note He no longer uses the style "His Royal Highness" in an official capacity.
- After his mother's passing, he assumed custody of her remaining corgis with his ex-wife Sarah.
Prince Edward, Duke of Edinburgh
The younger of the King's two younger brothers. Notable things about him:
- Like his older brother, Prince Edward was "born in the purple" and is the last member of the British royal family to hold that distinction to this day.
- Upon marriage, princes almost always receive a dukedom from the monarch; however, on Edward's wedding day in 1999, he was given the title of "Earl of Wessex".note His father Philip had come to ask Edward and Sophie prior to their marriage whether Edward would eventually like to become Duke of Edinburgh, however, and there was an announcement upon their marriage that the Queen, Philip, Edward, and Charles had all agreed it would happen "in due course" (after the deaths of Philip and the Queen). He was created Duke of Edinburgh on 10 March 2023 by his brother due to a complicated legal processnote , however his mother had earlier rectified the fact he had no Scottish title by creating him Earl of Forfar for his 55th birthday in 2019.
- Unusually, however, the Edinburgh creation was only given to Edward as a life peerage, so there is no way to know who will hold the title next.
- In his youth, he was dogged by rumours of being gay, partly due to being quite good-looking (prior to his hair loss) and horribly and homophobically bullied for that in the Marines. They were then somewhat quieted when he married his longtime girlfriend 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, Earl of Wessex.
- He and Charles are the only children of Elizabeth II to earn university degrees.
- 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.
- He's long shown an interest in theatre and television production, founding his own now-shuttered company, Ardent Productions, and going on to host several documentaries. His first foray into TV was It's a Royal Knockout, generally seen as a bit of a misstepnote . Although his documentary work was generally well-received, there was also a feeling Edward was a bit of a limited subject "one-trick pony" with a money-losing business and trading too much on his extraordinary background and access; the complications being part of why he eventually became a working royal after not originally being expected to become one.
- 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, and were generally received with enthusiasm upon their promotion to Duke and Duchess in 2023.
Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh
Wife of Prince Edward. She worked in public relations at the start of her career and for a period after her marriage, but is now a full-time working royal like her husband.
- She made relatively unpublicized history by living with Edward before they were married; after the three-for-three disasters of his older siblings' first marriages, the Queen was highly anxious to prevent a fourth divorce, and Sophie became the first person officially sanctioned to cohabit with a British royal before marriage.
- Prince Edward and Sophie's wedding was an understated affair—at least, relative to the marriages of his brothers. They insisted on it not being a state event, and asked attendees to wear less formal evening dresses and avoid wearing hats.note Sophie and her father were driven to the chapel in a Rolls-Royce owned by the Queen. The happy couple would take their honeymoon at Balmoral Castle. There were still a few European royals (many relatives of the Crown, like the then-Prince of Asturias, currently King Felipe VI of Spain), and several famous people, including John Cleese, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Stephen Fry, Harry Connick Jr., and John Travolta.
- Other than a minor blip in 2001 when she made "indiscreet remarks" about both British politicians and members of the royal family, which were later published, there's never been a whiff of scandal around her, and it's not for nothing that she was known as Queen Elizabeth's favourite daughter-in-law.
- She's reportedly something of a mentor figure to Catherine, Princess of Wales, particularly 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 as male-line grandchildren of a monarch are entitled to be titled as an HRH and British prince and princess; but like his sister Anne, Edward chose not to burden them with royal titles, instead styling them like the children of an earl and later a duke. This makes them Lady Louise Windsor and James, Earl of Wessex, the latter of whom was (until 2019) the highest-ranking person in the line of succession who did 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.
William, Prince of Wales
Elder son of King Charles III, first 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 King 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, requiring surgery afterwards to mend his fractured skull.
- 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 there were more than a few semi-serious (totally illegal) suggestions that he supersede his father and become King when his grandmother died. Upon her death, it very much did not happen, but polls have shown that it would have been 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 the (then) second-in-line to the throne 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 the event, which greatly raised the charity's profile.
- He became the heir apparent at 40, after being second-in-line his entire life. His father, Charles III, spent only four years as second-in-line.
- 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.note 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, Princess of Wales
William's wife, 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.
- She’s 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. She’s 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 complicationsnote , 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
King Charles's currently somewhat renegade second son. Known since birth as Harry, notable things about him:
- He has many names. According to his memoir, he's known as "Harold" to his father and brother, while he calls his brother "Willy". Friends in Africa call him "Spike", while Meghan calls him "Haz" and "H". This was lampshaded during his appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
- In his youth, he had a reputation as a party animal, a drug user, 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). For the latter incident, his father was reportedly incandescent with rage, sending him to then-Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks for greater understanding and penitence.note 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, which was helped in part by his marriage and his devotion to charitable works. He was immensely popular with the ladies prior to his marriage, and that might be in part because of his former 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 late Queen herself, once disenchanted with his youthful exploits, was reported to have called him her favourite grandchild because of his devotion to this cause.note
- 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 during an initial tour of duty, 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. 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. After the release of his memoir Spare in 2023, however, despite Harry claiming he'd published his kill number from Afghanistan to help other veterans and reduce potential suicides, he faced backlash from current and former military members for breaking protocol and potential safety issues, as well as general military tradition.
- 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 — just the few who 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 , not to mention disliked by the bride, who had publicly denounced him before the engagement, 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 he is not Charles's son but rather the product of one of Diana's several affairs. It doesn't help that he very much gets his hair colour from his mother's side — although his eyes and ears are clearly Charles. He then grew a beard and demonstrated a similarity to his grandfather Prince Philip; unsurprisingly, since he also bore a striking resemblance to Philip's father Prince Andreas of Greece as a child (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 the use of their "HRH" titles (he's now styled "Harry, Duke of Sussex"). This means that the couple no longer represent the King 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 late 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. With the accession of his father, this situation has not changed... yet.
- In 2022, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex released the documentary series Harry & Meghan as part of their lucrative Netflix deal. The series chronicles the couple's courtship, wedding, life as royals and subsequent decision to step back as working royals. While the series has some criticism for Harry's family, Harry's ire is primarily directed at the news media (which he explicitly blames for his mother's death), and the hierarchical and dysfunctional structures of the Royal Family — the institution, and what it does to people, rather than the people themselves. The media reacted with the expected vitriol, and whilst aggregated review scores from both viewers and reviewers faired poorly, the series became the most-watched documentary series in Netflix's history. The final episode portrays Harry as living happily and prosperously in California with his wife and children.
- In January 2023, his memoir Spare was published, with a great deal of sensational leakage and semi-accurate translation from copies accidentally being sold early in Spain. While the book was naturally a best-seller, there was also a feeling Harry overshared unwisely, both to potentially dangerous (his kill number from Afghanistan; detailing the interiors and layouts of some royal residences) and comical levels (a case of penile frostbite from the Arctic with downright Oedipus Complex notes in the resolution, or even quoting Spice Girls lyrics from a 1997 concert). Whether the public derision, seeming damage to his reputation along with the revelation that the "reformed Harry" was mostly a creation of palace PR, ironically, and Meghan's silence on the matter will continue is unknown.
- In June 2023, as part of bringing a suit against the Mirror Group for alleged phone hacking, he became the first member of the royal family to testify in a British courtroom since his great-great-great grandfather Edward VII (when Prince of Wales) in the 19th century.
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 through Instagram 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; the Queen's sister Princess Margaret was in a highly controversial relationship with (but never married) divorcé Peter Townsend; the Queen's first cousin Prince Michael married the contentious, divorced and Catholic Marie Christine von Reibnitz (see below), and Harry's father and stepmother were infamously responsible for each other's divorces. The public has been more willing to accept her, though, and didn't make a big deal about her having been divorced. She and Harry were even married in the Church of England.
- 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 their constant reporting on her and Harry's life, some also claiming that the tabloids coverage was racist — which isn't entirely unfair, these being British tabloids. She is now styled "Meghan, Duchess of Sussex".
- In November 2022, Meghan and Harry released a Netflix documentary series designed to answer the couple's critics and tell their own story. As well as presenting Meghan's entrepreneurial streak, the series primarily takes aim at the news media for being toxic and racist towards her — along with Harry's longstanding and downright venomous grudge against them — (the tabloids reacted with apoplectic rage), though Harry's family is also subject to criticism, but has remained officially quiet on the subject. The series became the most-watched documentary series in Netflix's history, despite aggregated review scores from both viewers and reviewers fairing poorly.
Princess Beatrice, Mrs Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi
The elder daughter of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson.
- Her parents considered naming her Octavia due to her 8/8/88 birthday, according to her mother Sarah.note
- Probably best known for her penchant for a mad hat, as seen at her cousin Prince William’s wedding, where she wore what could be abstractly 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 Annabel’s, it’s 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. Her mother, Sarah, was one of the film's producers.
- 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 British-Italian property developer Edoardo Mappelli Mozzi in a private ceremony at Windsor Castle in mid July 2020, as their original May wedding plans were scuppered by the COVID-19 Pandemic; the two had known each other since childhood. As his Italian Conte title isn't recognized by the United Kingdom (or by Italy, really, since it's a republic these days), it is not included in the princess' official style. Beatrice not only wore a vintage, reworked Norman Hartnell dress of her grandmother's for her wedding gown, but the very tiara then-Princess Elizabeth wore for her own 1947 wedding as well. The wedding was the last major event both the Duke of Edinburgh and the Queen attended.
- She gave birth to her 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 Woolfnote (known as 'Wolfie'), was his father’s best man, and Beatrice has talked extensively about how much Wolfie means to her.
Princess Eugenie, Mrs Jack Brooksbank
The younger 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 son, August Philip Hawkenote , in February 2021. Their second son, Ernest George Ronnienote was born in May 2023.
- 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, whether foreign or domestic.
- 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 elder child of Prince Edward and Sophie Rhys-Jones.
- Lady Louise and her brother, below, are styled as the children of a peer (taken from their father’s title, Duke of Edinburgh) 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 Edinburgh', it is (as of her 18th birthday) up to her whether or not she chooses to use it and so far she has not.
- A sweet, rather wholesome girl (she’s a keen Guider), she’s (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.
- She won fans by having an utterly normal minimum wage job in a garden centre the summer before she started university.
- As of September 2022 she accepted a place to study English at St. Andrew's Universitynote in Scotland.
James, Earl of Wessex
The younger child of Prince Edward and Sophie Rhys-Jones.
- Like his sister, he's entitled to the style "HRH Prince James of Edinburgh", but his parents didn't want to burden him with princely status. He's therefore styled with his father's subsidiary title, "Earl of Wessex".note Legally, he's still a prince of royal blood and at 18 he can decide if he wants to use his princely title.
- In an almost unique situation among peers, James is known by the title he will eventually inherit, since his father's senior Duke of Edinburgh title is a life peerage.
- His previous courtesy title, "Viscount Severn", acknowledges the Welsh roots of his mother's family; the River Severn rises in Wales.
Prince George of Wales
First son of Prince William, second 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 marked 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). The span would ultimately last for over nine years.
- 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'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 his great-grandmother the Queen did all the time. He broke a few people while serving as a pageboy at his uncle Harry's wedding.
- He made royal history by serving as one of his grandfather's four pages during Charles's coronation, participating in a way no prince has done before.
Princess Charlotte of Wales
Only daughter of Prince William, third 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.
- Charlotte was either named for her grandfather or because said grandfather pointed out she was born on the wedding day of the former Princess Charlotte of Wales in 1816. Or both.
- 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-menote . More recently, her father himself has been recorded exclaiming at an old picture: "Is that me? Is that Charlotte? Is that me...?"
- According to William and Kate, it's Charlotte who's in charge where her siblings are concerned. This was evidenced during their great-grandmother's Platinum Jubilee, when she was seen keeping Louis in line and reminding George about public decorum. This was also noticed at various points in the aftermath of HM The Queen's death.
- She gained quite a bit of notice at the age of 8 at her grandfather's coronation, where her stylish white caped dress, braided updo, and silver headpiece made for rave comparisons to Princess Leia.
Prince Louis of Wales
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.
- Despite being born on St. George's Daynote , it was fairly obvious he couldn't be called George — although slightly surprising it wasn't one of his middle names. The equally-mythic Arthur seems to have substituted.
- He is the first British royal ever to have the first name Louisnote , a name associated for centuries with French kings.note 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 Charles III's second son Prince Harry all have the first or middle name "Albert").
- 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.
- He became the subject of numerous news highlights and internet conversation and memes during the Queen's Platinum Jubilee celebrations for his dramatic facial expressions and general cheeky demeanour. He again stole the show during and after his grandfather's coronation in 2023.
Prince Archie of Sussex
Already notable in a few ways:
- He's the first person born into the British Royal Family 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 colour 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 whom 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 king of the United Kingdom 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.
- Harry has said that his son reminds him of his wife in personality.
Princess Lilibet of Sussex
- Queen Elizabeth's 11th great-grandchild.
- Born in California, she is the highest-ranked royal in the line of succession born overseas.note
- She is the lowest-ranked person in the line of succession who is a direct descendant of King Charles III.
- Harry has said Lili reminds him of his mother.
- Her godfather is American auteur, actor and entrepreneur Tyler Perry, who agreed to the honor only after her parents assured him he would not have to be involved in any royal ceremonies to assume the role.
The following individuals are less well-known, but are nonetheless members of what constitutes the British Royal Family in their capacity as the late Elizabeth II'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 William, Prince of Wales), 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 Duke’s 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.
- Because his uncle George VI had no sons, and because his great-great-great-uncle Ernst II of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (older brother of Prince Albert) had no (legitimate) children at all, the Duke of Gloucester is technically the agnatic head of the House of (Wettin von) Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Of course, this is merely a genealogical curiosity, as the Saxe-Coburg titles passed long ago to a younger line for political reasons and the British Saxe-Coburg line changed its name to Windsor amidst some strife with the cousins in Berlin.
- 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
The Duke of Gloucester's wife. A Danishwoman, she is the daughter of a high-powered lawyer from Odense. She met her husband while both were in Cambridge in the mid-to-late 1960s—him for his architecture degree, her for finishing school. Undoubtedly one of the unsung heroes of the British Royal Family, she joins her husband in carrying 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.
- He recently made history by spending a record amount of time as a Duke; having tragically inherited the title at the age of six after his father was killed in a plane crash in August 1942, no one has been a peer for longer.
- On a slightly shadier (but no less awesome) level, he is also the Grand Master of the English Freemasons.
Katharine, Duchess of Kent
Wife 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 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.
- Born Princess Alexandra of Kent, she married a commoner, Angus Ogilvy, in 1963. He declined the Queen's offer of an Earldom, making her the first British princess to marry a commoner since Princess Patricia of Connaught in 1919. Her married name was thus Mrs Angus Ogilvy, until her husband accepted a knighthood in 1988.
- 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 or a male-line grandson of a monarch is a prince (technically, also a commmoner) and sons of the sovereign are usually given the title of duke upon marrying. Prince Michael’s father, Prince George, was made Duke of Kent when he married Princess Marina of Greece, Prince Michael’s mother. The title Duke of Kent was inherited by Prince Michael’s 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 2015.
- Has a passion for all things Russian, and is fluent in the language — likely due to his ancestry.note 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
Wife of Prince Michael and a... contentious figure. She has been considered controversial for both 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.
- Additionally awkwardly, her mother discovered that Baron von Reibnitz was only civilly divorced after a prior Catholic marriage, and thus they were not actually married, according to Catholic church law. When she sought pastoral counsel she was advised that because she was innocent her children were legitimate — but she still needed to leave him. She did.
- 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 prior to the marriage that her lineage made Marie Christine likely sound "a bit too grand for us." Charles called Prince and Princess Michael "the rent-a-Kents" because of their habit of accepting pretty much any invitation for dinner, even—if not especially—when the host merely wanted to get the cachet of having some royals around for their party without actually knowing the couple personally. Princess Margaret apparently refused to speak to Princess Michael for years.note Princess Margaret's 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 Diana, 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. This was changed in 2013 to absolute primogeniture, meaning the oldest child inherits, no matter what gender—but only for royal children born 2011 and later (so Princes Andrew and Edward and their respective children and grandchildren still precede their sister Princess Anne and hers). 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.
Additionally, under the Acts of Settlement, Catholics and dynasts who married Catholicsnote were also excluded from succession. However, dynasts who married Catholics were restored by the same Perth Agreement of 2013 that adopted absolute primogenture and narrowed the scope of royal approval of marriages. Actual Catholics did stay barred from the succession, but not out of any dislike for Catholics, mind—rather, the monarch is by definition Supreme Governor of the Church of England, so it would be as absurd for the monarch to be Catholic as it would for the Pope to be an Anglican. Add in that the monarch is also the protector of the (even-more-Protestant) Church of Scotland, and is by lawnote a member of that church while in Scotland, and you can see why Catholics had to be kept out of the succession: mostly to keep people's heads from exploding in confusion.
Descendants of Charles III (b 1948)
1. William, Prince of Wales (b 1982) elder son of King Charles III
Descendants of Elizabeth II (1926—2022)
8. Prince Andrew, Duke of York (b 1960) second son of Queen Elizabeth II
14. Prince Edward, Duke of Edinburgh (b 1964) third son of Queen Elizabeth II
17. Anne, Princess Royal (b 1950) only daughter of Queen Elizabeth II
Descendants of Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon (Queen Elizabeth II's younger sister) (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, Frederick William I of Prussianote 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 once removed of the King — 87th in line. Descended from:
- King Edward VII —> Queen Maud of Norway —> Olav V of Norway —> Harald V of Norway
- Margareta, Custodian of the Crown of Romania (b 1947), pretender to the Romanian throne, great-great-great granddaughter of Queen Victoria, second cousin once removed of the Kingnote — c. 110/120 in line. Descended from:
- Queen Victoria —> Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha —> Queen Marie of Romania —> Carol II of Romania —> Michael I of Romania —> Margareta, Custodian of the Crown of Romania
- Alexander, Crown Prince of Yugoslavia (b 1945), pretender to the Yugoslav Throne, great-great-great-grandson of Queen Victoria, third cousin twice removed of the King — c. 110/120 in line. Descended from:
- Queen Victoria —> Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha —> Queen Marie of Romania —> Queen Maria of Yugoslavia —> Peter II of Yugoslavia —> Alexander, Crown Prince of Yugoslavia
- King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden (b 1946), great-great-grandson of Queen Victoria, third cousin once removed of the King — Questionably, as his parents never received permission to marry under the Royal Marriages Act, but would be c. 200/210 in line. Descended from:
- Queen Victoria —> Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearnnote —> 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 once removed of the King — c. 230/240 in 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
- Pavlos, Crown Prince of Greece (b 1967), pretender to the Greek Throne, great-great-great grandson of Queen Victoria, second cousin once removed of the King — c. 430/440 in line. Descended from:
- Queen Victoria —> Victoria, German Empress —> Queen Sophia of Greece —> Paul of Greece —> Constantine II of Greece —> Pavlos, Crown Prince of Greece
- King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands (b 1967), descendant of King George II, fifth cousin thrice removed of the King — c. 800 in line, just behind his mother, former queen Princess Beatrix . 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. Several have preferred the Scottish way, though, including—at least according to some reports—both Victoria and Elizabeth II.) 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 Felipe VI of Spain (b 1968) and his father King Juan Carlos I (b 1938; abdicated 2014, retains "King" as a courtesy title despite no longer being on the throne) would be somewhere in the 700ish range, with Felipe immediately following his father. Felipe is a great-great-great-grandson of Queen Victoria and third cousin once-removed of the King on the Mountbatten side. 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
- Philippe, King of the Belgians (b 1960) and his father the former King Albert II (b 1934), who are descendants of Prince Frederick, Prince of Walesnote (and related to Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg through Albert's elder sister, who became Grand Duchess Josephine-Charlotte, Henri's mother) 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 Charles III, Britain has switched 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 —> Philippe of Belgium
- Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg (b 1955), who is a descendant of Prince Frederick, Prince of Wales (and a first cousin of Philippe 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
- Last (4,973rd place as of 2011) — Fraunote Karin Vogel, a pain therapist from Rostock, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, and a female-line great-great-granddaughter of Alexander, Duke of Wurttemberg (1771–1833), himself a great-great-grandson of George I through his daughter, Sophia Dorothea. The next-to-last in line is her niece, who is named (appropriately enough) Victoria Vogel.