Queen Elizabeth II has been the ruling monarch of the United Kingdom for almost 70 years now. Even if she is still sitting on the throne now, it will have to go to her heir in the future. According to the line of succession, it will go to Charles, her firstborn son. However, what will happen to William and Kate, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge?
We bet you did not know that Queen Elizabeth gave birth to Charles in Buckingham Palace. He is the first child of the Queen and Prince Charles and was born on November 14, 1948. At the time, the couple went by the titles Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh. They got married only a year before Charles was born. Aside from him, they are the parents of Prince Andrew, Princess Anne, and Prince Edward as well.
Charles studied at a private school before he started to attend Trinity College at Cambridge University in 1967. This made him the first heir to the throne who earned a bachelor’s degree from this institution. Aside from that, the prince also went to the Royal Air Force College and the Royal Naval College.
The Prince’s Trust
When he was at the Royal Navy, Prince Charles had a tour of duty that spanned 1971 to 1976. Since then, he has been involved in various charities too. In 1976, he even made The Prince’s Trust. This is an organization that offers help to adults and children having a hard time at school or work.
Even so, there is no arguing the fact that his private life has made him more famous than his charity work. At any rate, people were aware that he dated Camilla Parker Bowles before Lady Diana came into the picture. Two biographers say that the royal family found her to be an unsuitable bride for the prince.
Charles and Camilla split up, and he soon walked down the aisle with Lady Diana after that. They got married at St. Paul’s Cathedral on July 29, 1981. Not even a year after this, they welcomed their first son into the world! They met Prince William on June 21, 1982. Two years later, they had another son. Diana gave birth to Prince Harry on September 15, 1984.
When Harry and William were both growing up, Princess Diana wanted them to experience a normal life and be aware of their privilege. She would bring the boys to school whenever she could and take them on trips to amusement parks. However, that was not the only thing that she did. Aside from these things, she would also make sure that the young princes were present at all kinds of royal engagements.
However, cracks began to appear in the relationship between Prince Charles and Princess Diana. In 1992, they decided to go their own ways and got a divorce 4 years later. As this was going on, the prince said that the marriage has become irreparable. He also announced that he and Camilla reconciled.
There were also reports about Diana and her own affairs. Among these rumors, the most famous one might be about the relationship between her and James Hewitt of the British Army. To this day, there are still people who believe that he was the true father of Harry. However, everyone involved in the story has said that the affair did not start until long after the birth of her children.
The family, sadly, experienced a huge tragedy in 1997. On August 31 of that year, Diana died in a car accident in Paris. She was only 36 years old at the time of her death. Charles went to France so that he can bring her remains to the United Kingdom.
The prince had to deal with a huge storm as the world prepared for the funeral of the beloved icon. Many grieved her death. The modern-day British public had never seen a bigger downpour of emotions before that. Charles was the one who bore the brunt of all the backlash. There were people who thought that it would not have happened if he did not file for divorce.
Starting Over Again
Charles was not seen with another woman until two years after the death of his late ex-wife. In 1999, Camilla was seen with him at a birthday bash held at the Ritz in London, however. It seemed that the two have rekindled their relationship! Charles and Camilla let everyone know that they were engaged in February 2005. In April, they had a civil ceremony. She later received a title as well: Duchess of Cornwall.
Mind you, there are more things about Prince Charles that does not have to do with his romantic life. Ever since he became an adult, he had to serve duties in the name of both the royal family and the Commonwealth. He has also been involved with charities that had a focus on the youth, environment, and education. The royal is also a passionate environmentalist and very interested in architecture.
It is interesting to hear that Prince Charles would be farther down the succession if one decision did not happen decades ago. This had to do with Edward VIII, who became the monarch in 1936 after the death of his father, King George V. However, he was in love with an American divorcee called Wallis Simpson!
The Church of England did not approve of their relationship nor did the British government. They did not think that a divorcee would be a suitable wife to the king. In the end, Edward simply decided to abdicate the throne. He was not even the sovereign ruler for a year when he made up his mind.
Next In Line
Here was what Edward said back then: “I have found it impossible to carry on the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge the duties of king, as I would wish to do, without the help and support of the woman I love.” This was the reason that the throne went to his younger brother, King George VI. At the time, he had been the Duke of York. One year later, Edward and Wallis walked down the aisle!
This was a huge event that still hangs over the royal family to this day. It is part of the reason they do not approve of divorce even more than the typical person does. Many believe that it was the reason the Queen did not show up for the religious part of the wedding between Charles and Camilla in 2005.
Not To Offend
There is a very good chance that the Queen wanted to go and see her eldest child get married for the second time. However, there were rumors that said that she did not want to seem like she was prioritizing him over what the Church of England believes in. Even though divorce and remarriage are no longer forbidden, it still advises everyone not to do these things.
In 2005, The Daily Telegraph reported about a so-called unnamed “friend of the Queen” who said that Her Majesty herself said, “I am not able to go. I do not feel that my position permits it.” They went on, “The Queen feels she has to put her role with the Church before her role as a mother.”
Divorce was a topic that came up again when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were preparing for their marriage in 2018. She was a divorcee as well. Her first marriage had been to a producer called Trevor Engelson. Prior to the royal wedding, people could not help but wonder if the Queen would be there.
Grant Harrold, a royal butler, had this to say to Daily Express: “Prince Charles’ wedding was 13 years ago, [and] times have changed. It could be a change of heart… You have the unfortunate Edward and Wallace Simpson episode, and 70 years later nobody blinks an eyelid.” It is true that a lot has changed in the 80 years that have passed. Yes, the world and royal family have changed with the times.
If you did not know, Queen Elizabeth II is the daughter of King George VI. She had been 10 years old when he ascended the throne. Her younger sister Margaret, meanwhile, was just 6 years old. It meant that Elizabeth would become the heir apparent. In 1952, her father died after a long battle with lung cancer. It was at the age of 25 that she took over the throne.
This development was not one that Elizabeth had been expecting at the time. It was true that her father had been seeing a decline in health for some time already. However, she thought that this would happen much later on. At the time of his death, she and Prince Philip were in Kenya. To be specific, the two of them had been spending the night at Treetops Hodel in Aberdare National Park.
Time even reported that, back then, Elizabeth was “in high spirits over her ‘tremendous experience’ and vowed to come again soon with her father.” Aside from that, she also said that her father would “love it” there. A BBC reporter also said that she had been “talking about her father and proudly describing how bravely he’d stood up to his illness.”
Despite her shock, Elizabeth had no choice but to ascend the throne. It also made Charles the heir apparent. At the time, he was no more than 3 years old. His mom now holds the record as the longest reigning ruler in British history. On the flipside, Charles is also the longest serving heir to the throne.
In November 2018, Charles had his 70th birthday. This has also made him the oldest heir to the throne in history! By the time he gets to ascend the throne, he is going to be the oldest British monarch ever. This was a distinction previously held by William IV, who had been nearly 65 years old by the time he became the sovereign ruler in 1830.
This is part of the reason people believe that he would simply abdicate when the time comes. People think he will let William have the position instead. It is a popular theory among members of the British public. In fact, a survey conducted by StatistaCharts for The Week revealed that almost half of the population would prefer to see Prince William become the reigning monarch instead of his father.
What Diana Said
It turned out that even Diana herself had conflicted feelings about this matter. Well, we are not surprised to hear that this is the case since their marriage did not end on very good terms. In 1995, she had been talking about this during the appearance that she made on Panorama. “Do you think the Prince of Wales will ever be king?” asked a journalist called Martin Bashir.
“I don’t think any of us know the answer to that,” Diana said in response. She added, “There was always conflict on that subject with [Charles] when we discussed it, and I understood that conflict. Because it’s a very demanding role, being Prince of Wales, but it’s an equally more demanding role being king.”
Even more revealing, she went on, “Being Prince of Wales produces more freedom now, and being king would be a little bit more suffocating. And because I know the character, I would think that the top job, as I call it, would bring enormous limitations to him – and I don’t know whether he could adapt to that.”
Despite what she said, it does seem like Prince Charles has plans to take the throne in the future. It looks like the Queen is training him for the title by giving him certain responsibilities. In the past few years, he has been placed in charge of putting a wreath for Remembrance Day instead of Her Majesty.
But what would really happen if the Queen passes away? For those interested, there is no need to worry. There is a plan in place for this. The operation is supposedly known as Operation London Bridge. The plan says that the news of her death would first be shared with civil servants with the use of this phrase: “London Bridge is down.”
In 2017, The Guardian had a piece that reported how the British public service broadcaster, the BBC, will learn about the piece of news using a system called the Radio Alert Transmission System. It is called RATS for short. However, it has one more unofficial meaning, which is “royal about to snuff it.”
What To Do
Sir Christopher Geidt is the private secretary of Queen Elizabeth II. He will then tell the prime minister about the news before the word gets out. The PM then has to inform the 36 Commonwealth nations and the 15 others ruled by the monarchy. After the public learns about this development, pilots also have to announce the piece of news on flights. Flags will have to placed in half-mast position too.
It is believed that the people who work in the United Kingdom will all get that day off. Banks and stock exchanges will likely be closed during the day of the burial too. There are probably other signs and symbols that will happen. For one thing, the BBC did not show comedy of any kind on the small screen until the funeral of George VI was over.
However, there is also a chance that the body will stay at Westminster Hall for a few days so that the public can grieve her death prior to the funeral. After that, she will probably be put to rest at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. Her parents were both laid to rest in the same spot. It is very likely that the days of her funeral as well as the coronation will become public holidays.
Charles will become the king by default. There is a good chance that he will release a statement the same day that the Queen passes away. He will then have to choose among his given names for his reign. The options include Arthur, Philip, and George. If not, he will just become King Charles III. On the other hand, his wife might become Queen Camilla!
There has always been some debate about the title Camilla holds. In 2017, biographer Sally Bedell Smith spoke to People about the process of finding a suitable title for Charles’ second wife. She explained, “It was obviously fudged when [Charles and Camilla] got married. Diana was so uppermost in many people’s minds. So, they concocted the notion of a Princess Consort, which is made up.”
Bedell Smith also expounded on it some more: “[The royal family] obviously have worked very hard to have [Camilla] accepted, and she has been accepted. If she were anything less than Queen Consort [when Charles is king], it would imply inferiority on her part… Most of the constitutional experts agree that by common law and tradition, [Camilla] is entitled to be queen.”
Title After Title
However, what will happen to Prince William after that? After the passing of George VI and the crowning of Queen Elizabeth, Charles was given the title Duke of Cornwall. However, he has since held a bunch of other titles as well. The list includes the Lord of the Isles, Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Chester, Baron of Renfrew, Great Stewart of Scotland, and Earl of Carrick.
Prince Of Wales
Charles received many of these titles when his mother was ruling as the Queen of the United Kingdom. However, there are some that he got before that. For one, his title Prince of Wales has been in place ever since 1301. Still, this is not something given out to all heirs.
In fact, the title only ever goes to the male heir apparent. When George VI was the king, this position did not go to anyone since he only had daughters and no sons. Six years after the Queen ascended the throne, Her Majesty had to appoint her firstborn son Charles as the Prince of Wales.
Duchy Of Cornwall
Prince Charles is the Duke of Cornwall, which means that he is entitled to a salary from the Duchy of Cornwall. Composed of 131,000 acres of land and properties, this territory was created by Edward III during the 14th century. Not only that, but it also has an investment portfolio!
Charles, as the Duke of Cornwall, earns a salary from this estate in order to finance his private and public enterprises. The endeavors typically include all kinds of charity initiatives. Apart from this, the fund is also used to help out certain members of his family such as his children and grandchildren.
Apart from this property, there is the Duchy of Lancaster as well. Made up of land and properties, it is in the possession of Her Majesty. She has access to more funds courtesy of the British government known as the Sovereign Grant. We are not surprised that her passing will put a lot of changes into action.
It is also interesting to hear that the past few years have witnessed a number of changes when it comes to royal titles. For example, Charles’ sons used to be known as Prince William of Wales and Prince Harry of Wales. However, their marriages have caused their titles to change.
When William tied the knot with Kate Middleton in 2011, the couple became the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Their kids, on the other hand, are called Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis of Cambridge. In May 2018, Harry and Meghan married and became the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
Not Necessarily A Prince
Harry and Meghan are now parents. Their son is called Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor. Even before he was born, it was known that he would not necessarily hold the title of “Prince.” This all boils down to one decree King George V issued in 1917. What did Queen Elizabeth’s grandfather say?
If you wanted to know, he proclaimed, “The grandchildren of the sons of any such Sovereign in the direct male line (save only the eldest living son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales) shall have and enjoy in all occasions the style and title enjoyed by the children of Dukes of these Our Realms.” This means that you are not a prince unless you are a male family member in the direct line of succession.
In the past, however, the “male” part of the ruling has changed. Prior to the birth of Prince George, the British government began following “absolute primogeniture.” It means that the firstborn child of the heir would be able to ascend the throne regardless of their gender. That said, a younger boy in the succession is no longer going to come first if an older girl is there. Gender equality is now counted!
However, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex decided to reject royal titles for their little angel. Harry and Meghan want to wait until Archie is older. He could have become the Earl of Dumbarton, a title that his father holds in Scotland. In the meantime, he will be referred to as simply “Master Archie.”
All of this might still change with the eventual passing of Her Majesty. This would mean that all the people in line for the throne will move up the succession. Charles is going to ascend the throne, with William becoming the heir. Archie, as the grandson of the future monarch, can become a “Prince.”
Stay The Same
Will Harry get a new title as well once his dad becomes the ruling monarch? It is not likely. However, it remains possible that his father will give him a new dukedom. At any rate, there is a big likelihood that Harry and Meghan are only going to stay the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
If this is not confusing enough for you just yet, you should know that there is more. William is now the Earl of Strathearn and Baron Carrickfergus as well. However, he will have to take on more responsibilities when Prince Charles becomes king. His titles are also going to change as part of it.
Prince And Princess
William is going to be the heir apparent once his father ascends the throne. This means he will also earn the title Duke of Cornwall. He has actually started to go to duchy meetings in preparation for this. Apart from this, he and Kate are probably going to become the Prince and Princess of Wales.
In November 2018, Royal Central journalist Charlie Proctor said that the plans for the transition are underway. “As per tradition, when Prince Charles does take to the throne, William and Kate will become the Prince and Princess of Wales, meaning he will take on additional duties to assist the monarch,” he expounded. “Just like Prince Charles is preparing to become king, William is already preparing to become Prince of Wales ready for the duties and responsibilities he will have to take on.”
He also explained, “I think it is important to say that just like his father, William is also preparing to become king. There is no chance that William will be Prince of Wales for more than 60 years. As such, he must also learn the ropes because his time on the throne may come sooner rather than later.”
Believing In Him
It was clear that the Queen believes that her firstborn son can handle the duties that come with ruling the United Kingdom. On his 70th birthday party in 2018, the Queen delivered a lovely toast to Charles. “Over his 70 years, Philip and I have seen Charles become a champion of conservation and the arts, a great charitable leader – a dedicated and respected heir to the throne to stand comparison with any in history – and a wonderful father,” Queen Elizabeth II herself said.
That was not all. Her Majesty also spoke about Camilla, his second wife. She added, “Most of all, sustained by his wife, Camilla, he is his own man, passionate and creative. So this toast is to wish a happy birthday to my son, in every respect a duchy original. To you Charles. To the Prince of Wales.”
Let us keep in mind that Prince Charles is already over 70 years old at this point. There is a good chance that he would have a brief reign. William should be ready to ascend the throne, which also involves grooming George for the position. Apparently, this little boy does not have any idea that he is in the direct line of succession, but he will find out about it soon enough. There are still people who think that Charles would not be the king, regardless of whether or not the Queen ends up abdicating. In 2018, an ex-royal butler by the name of Paul Burrell explained to Now to Love that “we will never see King Charles and Queen Camilla sat on the throne of England.”
But why? He said, “Because when the Queen dies, she’ll be 100-and-something; she will never abdicate. When she dies, I think Charles will do the right thing and say, ‘I’m far too old for this responsibility.’”
Older And Wiser
There is something else to consider here, however. You should know that not all royals are eager to be the king and queen of the country. There are some who simply want to live their lives. Author Gill Knappett, in her book Charles, Prince of Wales, claimed that Prince William has no plans to “climb the ladder of kingship” until later on.
The Greater Good
Aside from this, Prince Harry has revealed that his relatives are not all that interested in becoming the monarch. “We are involved in modernizing the British monarchy. We are not doing this for ourselves but for the greater good of the people,” he informed Newsweekback in 2017. The Duke also went on to say, “Is there any one of the royal family who wants to be king or queen? I don’t think so, but we will carry out our duties at the right time.”
The Queen is probably not abdicating the throne. This might be because she views it as a duty instead of a privilege. She has said something like that during the speech she delivered on her 21st birthday in 1947. Her Majesty said, “I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service.”