last updated: 8 May 2018 (approximate reading time: 3 minutes; 545 words)
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will marry on 19 May 2018. You may have heard 😄
It may seem provocative to suggest that Miss Markle could become the Queen of England, but once you understand the rules around royal succession, you will see that it is quite possible that an American born non-royal divorcee could become Queen—it just takes one death at a certain time.
And once you understand the rules of succession, you also understand that Harry’s brother Prince William may not become King.
Rules of Succession
The rules of succession are straightforward: the eldest child of the monarch inherits the throne on the monarch’s death. There’s also a twist here for the current Queen where her younger sons (Andrew and Edward) take precedence over their older sister, Anne.
On the principle of the eldest child inheriting, it is simple to see that:
- Charles, the Prince of Wales, will inherit the throne on the death of his mother, the Queen.
- William, Prince Charles’s older son, will then inherit the throne on the subsequent death of his father.
- On William’s death, his oldest child, George, will then inherit.
So we have a simple order of succession: Charles is first in line to the throne, William second in line, and George is third in line. It seems easy, but it misses the key point: the oldest living child inherits.
Previous Expectations Count for Nothing
In order to inherit, the oldest child must be alive—if the expected heir dies before the monarch, then the line of succession passes to the next eldest living child of the monarch; it does not skip a generation.
Let’s look at a practical example.
If Prince Charles dies before his mother, then the person to inherit the throne will be Prince Andrew, the Queen’s second son.
While he might be called the second in line to the throne, William is only second in line if his father first inherits. If Charles does not inherit, then William (and Harry) will drop out of the immediate line of succession. If—following Charles’s earlier death—Andrew becomes King, then his eldest child (Princess Beatrice) will inherit on his subsequent death.
Is this scenario likely? Probably not; but it is possible.
However, the Queen has just celebrated her 92nd birthday while Charles will reach his 70th birthday in November. It is not unusual for a 70-something-year-old man to die. It is uncommon—but not unheard of—for children to die before their parents.
So How Does Meghan Become Queen?
Once you understand the rules of succession, you can see that Meghan Markel’s route to becoming Queen is moderately straightforward. All that is necessary is for Prince William to die before his father.
Assuming that Charles outlives the Queen, on her death Charles will become King. In the event that William has died before his father, then on the death of Charles:
- Prince Harry will inherit the crown.
- Meghan Markle will become Queen.
- Any children of Harry and Meghan will inherit the throne on the death of Harry.
William’s children—George, Charlotte, and Louis—will have dropped out of the immediate line of succession on their father’s death.
Will this happen? Again, it is unlikely, but if you’re a betting person, what odds would you take on William dying before his father?