How did the birth of Prince Louis affect the royal line of succession?

British Royal Family

Amid the bunting, badinage and backslapping that greeted the recent arrival of Louis Arthur Charles Windsor, the third child of Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, there might have been one or two royal recesses where the welcome may have been a little more muted. After all, even as the tiny prince was revealed to the world’s press, many of his regal relatives would only be too aware that they had just, once again, shuffled further down the line of succession, with their own ascension to the British throne never less likely.

Not that there’s any likelihood of a current vacancy, however. Despite the sixty-sixth anniversary of her accession to the throne having passed earlier this year, Louis’ great grandmother – or Queen Elizabeth II as she is more normally known – shows no sign of standing down or imminently demising. Given that her own mother lived to be 101, there is every chance that Her Majesty could add another 10 years to her already record-breaking reign. When, as will surely happen in the fullness of time, the British throne does fall unoccupied, though, just who will succeed the country’s longest-serving monarch?

Well, first in line, of course, is Prince Charles who has been the heir apparent since his mother’s 1952 coronation. Given the unprecedented length of her reign, it is perhaps not all that surprising that Charles himself is also the holder of a royal record – at 64 years and counting, he has served as heir apparent for longer than any of his predecessors.

Prince Charles

As the eldest son of Prince Charles – the issue of his first marriage back in the days of his apparent fairytale pairing with Diana, Princess of Hearts – Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge is second in line and set to one day succeed his father. With 69-year-old Charles set to be at least 75 or so before he ascends to the throne, it is most unlikely that 35-year-old William will have to spend the same 70-plus years waiting in the wings before the top job falls to him.

In 2013, William and Kate, as she is affectionately known by the public, welcomed their first child – Prince George. Barely had the umbilical cord been cut before the young princeling nosed ahead of Prince Harry – his uncle and William’s younger brother – to become third in line to the throne.

Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge with Prince George and Princess Charlotte

Two years later, the order of succession changed again with the arrival of Princess Charlotte, William and Kate’s second child. This, however, did mark something of a change to royal protocol.  Following the 2013 enactment of the Succession to the Crown Act, Charlotte gets to retain her position as fourth in line to the throne even if – as actually happened – another male heir is born in to the family. Just a year or two before, the previously prevailing 1701 Succession Act would have seen Prince Louis leapfrog his sibling and shuffle her down to fifth place in the accession stakes.

Given the abundance of heirs delivered by the union of William and Kate, it seems unlikely – natural disasters and plagues aside – that Prince Harry, now sixth in line to the throne, will ever advance any higher in the monarchy stakes.

Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex

Even further back in the list is Prince Andrew, the current Queen’s second son, who has dropped to his relatively lowly seventh ranking. In fact, such is his disposability that he is now no longer regarded as a “core” member of the royal family.

Anne, the Queen’s second child, currently languishes in the largely uncoveted number 13 spot, behind not only her two younger brothers, but also their four children

The highest ranked of these, at number eight, is Princess Beatrice, the daughter of Andrew and his permanently-exiled from royal circles ex-wife, Sarah “Fergie” Ferguson, the Duchess of York. Trailing her in ninth position is Princess Eugenie, her younger sister and the second child of Andy and Fergie as they are familiarly known.

Prince Andrew and Princess Eugenie

 Taking the line of accession into double figures is Prince Edward, the Queen’s youngest son, in the number 10 slot, again placed ahead of his elder sister by a royal tradition that clearly pre-dated any feminist dialogue.

Should some wholly unanticipated cataclysm wipe out the whole of this top 10, however, even then the throne would not go unoccupied. The top 100 extends to various branches of the Yugoslavian and Romanian royal families, with the superiorperks offered to members of the British monarchy sure to lure them out of even the finest palace Bucharest has to offer.

The British royal family, then, is clearly a robust institution, with countless candidates for the top job no matter how great a cataclysm may afflict the realm. With her reign inevitably entering its final phase, however, it will be down to the successors to her title to ensure the role retains its relevance throughout the remainder of the 21st century and beyond.

The full version of this feature appears on Gafencu Magazine’s June 2018 print issue as “Crown Succession by Hira Desai. You can download the free app for digital editions of the magazine.

Meghan-Harry’s Big Day: Top five trivia on the royal wedding

19 May is not just going to be a big day for Britain’s Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (read more about her here), but it may just prove to be the day when England’s rather antiquated royal family gets the shot of life it needs to stay relevant in today’s context.

So with the entire world giving in to the ‘royal wedding fever’, can we stay far behind? We have for you our top five trivia on the royal wedding ahead of the big day.

royal wedding

To commemorate one of their first dates together – a camping trip to Botswana – Prince Harry Prince designed Meghan’s engagement ring himself from a diamond sourced from Botswana’s famous diamond mines. The ring also features two gems from Harry’s late mother Princess Diana’s collection, and is crafted by royal jewellers Cleave and Company.

The bride’s wedding ring is, however, specially sourced from a royal reserve of Welsh gold. This unique gold comes from the Clogau St. David’s mine in Wales, and has been used to make royal rings since Queen Mother’s wedding to Prince Albert, Duke of York, in 1923. Since then, wedding rings for various royal princesses, including Diana and Kate Middleton, have been made from this gold.

royal wedding

Adhering wholeheartedly to the royal custom, Prince Harry sought the Queen’s permission before proposing to Meghan. Given that the British sovereign – in this case Elizabeth II – has to approve all royal weddings, it seemed Harry wasn’t taking any chances. After all, the last time a British royal family member married an American, he had to abdicate his rights to the throne!

In keeping with traditions then, Meghan Markle has already been baptised into the Church of England – one of the prerequisites for entering the royal fold – and is all set to become an UK citizen. The secret ceremony – in which only a handful of royal guests were invited – included holy water from the River Jordan being poured on her head.

But even if Meghan Markle may have conformed to this one tradition, she seems to be by far the most rebellious, progressive, liberal royal that we may have seen in a long time! When she was just 11, she campaigned against an ad for a washing-up liquid that seemed to imply that a woman’s place was in the kitchen. After she enlisted the support of a number of high-profile women, including Hilary Clinton, the then first-lady, the manufacturer surrendered and the ad was pulled.

Here’s hoping this firebrand feminist can inject one of the world’s most conservative families with a right dose of modernity!

Text: Suchetana Mukhopadhyay

Will Meghan Markle be the one to give a shot of modernity to British royalty?

Will 19 May see Britain’s Royal Family finally get the upgrade it needs to remain relevant in the 21st century?  After all, the royal family is ‘allowing’ a divorced, mixed-race American into its cloistered ranks. With the marriage of Prince Harry – the second son of the current Queen’s eldest son – to Meghan Markle (who ticks all of the above boxes) being widely welcomed by royals and common folk alike, the royal family may have just got the shot of life it needs to stay relevant in today’s context.

The Royal Family hasn’t always been so inclusive. Back in 1936, when Edward VIII wanted to marry a woman who ticked only two of those boxes (divorced and a US citizen), he was obliged to abdicate following fierce censure from all quarters.

So, then, just who is this woman that has won the heart of a prince and is now wooing the approval of Brits of every hue? Previously best-known for her role playing a newly-qualified lawyer in Suits, a US legal drama, Meghan Markle was born in Los Angeles in 1981 to a Dutch-Irish father and an African-American mother. Clearly proud of her ethnicity, she says: “While my mixed heritage may have once created a grey area with regard my self-identification, it allowed me to keep a foot on both sides of the fence and I have come to embrace that.”

That Meghan had all the makings of a strong, independent woman was apparent from early on. When she was just 11, she campaigned against an ad for a washing-up liquid that seemed to imply that a woman’s place was in the kitchen. After she enlisted the support of a number of high-profile women, including Hilary Clinton, the then first-lady, the manufacturer had to pull down the ad.

Subsequently, she used her celebrity status to continue to drive her feminist agenda, largely via The Tig, her campaigning blog. She has also worked closely with the United Nations to promote gender equality. In 2016, she also travelled to Rwanda to promote World Visions’ Clean Water Campaign.

Commenting on how she balances her career and her charity commitments, she said: “It’s true that my life shifts from refugee camps to red carpets. I choose to do both, however, because these worlds can and do co-exist. For me, they must.”

In the UK, she has already begun her charm offensive, one targetted at both the British press and her future brother-in-law’s subjects. To date, though, one or two of her initiatives have backfired a little. She was criticised for sporting a messy bun (royals don’t do bad hair days) and for hugging a schoolgirl in public (apparently another unroyal activity).

One who knows better than most just what she should be doing is Grant Harrold, former butler to Prince Charles, her prospective father-in-law. Giving the princess-to-be a few words of advice, he says: “She has to be careful about what she says, how she says it, and how it’s taken as, after the 19 of May, it will very much reflect on the royal family.”

From the outside, though, it seems that she may already be getting a sense of the enormity of it all. Her choice of wardrobe and her daily schedule all become headlines and are closely scrutinised and followed by royalists across the world. A number of them go as far as to ape her style, which is seen as being trendier and more accessible than that favoured by Kate Middleton, the wife of Harry’s brother, William.

Fashion brands, however, are not the only ones benefiting from the royal marriage. Meghan’s entry into the royal fold is expected to boost the British economy by $1.4 billion (£1 billion). This windfall is expected to be largely derived from the tourism and hospitality sectors, with sales of T-shirts, hats and other merchandise all set to surge as the wedding day approaches.

All the media frenzy and cold profit calculations aside, Meghan and Harry, for their part, seem content to keep things as low profile. But with the wedding itself said to be costing $53 million and Meghan’s dress alone valued at $550,000, it is unlikely that they will be able to duck the spotlight until long after the last bit of royal confetti has blown away.

While cynics have billed this latest royal wedding as a planned distraction from the UK’s ongoing Brexit turbulence, many have been far kinder. Indeed, some have seen it as a sign of hope, arguing that if the royal family can transcend its centuries of snobbery and privilege, then many of the worlds’s other elitist establishments can surely follow suit.

It’s a heavy burden of expectation to put on the 36-year-old’s shoulders. Meghan Markle will, however, have a worldwide audience of some two billion when she ties the knot in Windsor Castle. With that number of well-wishers on board, how can she fail?

Text: Suchetana Mukhopadhyay, Photos: AFP