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How Harry and Meghan's new baby affects the British line of succession

The royal family is seeing a baby boom, the latest addition being the daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
Princess Beatrice (back center) will welcome her first child in the coming months, while her sister, Princess Eugenie (far right), had her first baby in February and her cousin Prince Harry (front center) just announced the birth of his second child. That said, Prince William (far left) will remain second in line to the throne.
Princess Beatrice (back center) will welcome her first child in the coming months, while her sister, Princess Eugenie (far right), had her first baby in February and her cousin Prince Harry (front center) just announced the birth of his second child. That said, Prince William (far left) will remain second in line to the throne.TODAY Illustration / Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

The British royal family has been experiencing quite a baby boom lately, and those tiny new additions to the clan are shaking up the British line of succession.

As most royal watchers know, there's a long list of family members who are eligible to inherit the throne one day, and every time a new royal baby arrives, the succession line shifts slightly.

Prince Harry and the former Meghan Markle just welcomed their second child on June 4, a baby girl named Lilibet “Lili” Diana Mountbatten-Windsor. As the most recent royal baby to be born, Lili does affect the family's line to the throne.

Generally speaking, the line of succession follows a straight line from the current sovereign — in this case the queen — to his or her oldest child (Prince Charles) to his or her oldest child (Prince William) and so on, until there are no more children. Then it picks up at the next oldest child of the person first in line to the throne (Harry), then to his or her children, and so on. After the children of the first person in line to the throne and their families, the line goes to the next oldest child of the sovereign and their children, and so on.

TODAY

Younger sons used to come before older daughters in the line of succession, but that changed when the Succession to the Crown Act came into full effect in March 2015. It applies to royal family members born after Oct. 28, 2011, which is why William's daughter, Princess Charlotte, born in 2015, is ahead of her brother Prince Louis, born in 2018, in the line of succession. (The queen's daughter, Princess Anne, is behind her younger brothers in the line of succession.)

Currently, Charles, the queen's oldest son, is first in line to the throne, followed by his oldest son, William, followed by William's oldest son, Prince George, and then Charlotte and then Louis. After Louis, it goes to Harry, then Harry's son, Archie. Now Archie's sister, Lili, will be eighth in line, moving the queen's next-oldest son, Andrew, Duke of York, to the ninth spot.

Prince Andrew's two daughters are also contributing to the recent succession shakeup. In February, Princess Eugenie and her husband, Jack Brooksbank, welcomed their first child, a son named August. He was 11th in line to the throne for about three months (pushing down his mom's uncle Edward, Earl of Essex, one spot) but with Lili's arrival, August has moved to 12th — and will move even farther in just another few months. Eugenie's older sister, Princess Beatrice, and her husband, Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, are expecting in the fall. This baby will become 11th, making Eugenie and August 12th and 13th respectively.

In March, Princess Anne's daughter, Zara Tindall, welcomed her third child, a son named Lucas, who is now 23rd in line to the throne. He will also get bumped down, as will his mom and sisters, Mia, 7, and Lena, 2, once Beatrice's baby arrives.

While the succession line is somewhat fluid, the recent baby boom is unlikely to affect those who will actually inherit the throne one day. It will still likely go from Charles to William to George to George's kids, when he has them, followed by their kids. If George doesn't have kids, it will go to Charlotte and her descendants. If she doesn't have any either, it will go to Louis and his family and so on, before picking back up at uncle Harry.

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