New Rules For Being A Modern Royal Heir, The British Royal Family Is Changing

With a new royal baby on the way, many of the old rules are remaining in place while slowly there are changes and new rules for being a modern royal heir. From education to last names and title, and even where to give birth, things are changing, but much more stays the same. With each generation, some small changes are made, but while they don’t seem drastic to the public, many don’t realize that some have been in place for hundreds or thousands of years.

Some of the new rules for being a modern royal heir are being dictated by other changes that have been made by recent royal generations. Those who have watched the Netflix series The Crown saw that Queen Elizabeth believed she was at a disadvantage because she didn’t attend formal school, and so her children, Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, and Prince Edward were all the educated outside of the palace at schools rather than inside with tutors (Princess Anne was still tutored for primary school, but left for boarding school at age 10). For this reason, the question of royal last names came up officially for the first time.

The default last name for all modern British Royals is Windsor, like Windsor Palace (the actual family name is Hanover, but that was thought to be too German), but Queen Elizabeth handed down a proclamation or royal edict that said royals now have three options for last names. First, they legally can go through school, on legal documents or anywhere else sans the last name, so Princess Charlotte can just be Princess Charlotte. But if she wants a last name, she can either go with the one from her title and be Charlotte Cambridge (her father went through school as Will Wales) or go with the hyphenate handed down from her royal grandparents and use Mountbatten-Windsor.

Prince Charles was the first “heir apparent” to go to school rather than be educated in the palace by tutors. The prince continued this trend and sent Prince William and Prince Harry to Wetherby prep school before their time at Eton. Prince George will be the third generation of heirs to the throne to go to school. Prince George starts this month at a school called Thomas’s in southwest London.

Another change executed by Queen Elizabeth is the Succession to the Crown Act, which eliminates the preference for a male heir over a female.

“In determining the succession to the Crown, the gender of a person born after 28 October 2011 does not give that person, or that person’s descendants, precedence over any other person (whenever born).”

This means that Princess Charlotte has now leapfrogged over Uncle Prince Harry, as will the next baby of Prince William and Kate Middleton, regardless of gender. And even if the baby Kate Middleton is carrying is a boy, it will not move ahead of Princess Charlotte in the line of succession.

With the same ruling, Queen Elizabeth also removed the ban against marrying Roman Catholics (though there is no mention of other religions).

“A person is not disqualified from succeeding to the Crown or from possessing it as a result of marrying a person of the Roman Catholic faith.”

Another new royal trend which has caught on is birth in the hospital. While Prince William was the first royal to be born in a hospital, he was not the last. Princess Diana started the trend of giving birth away from the palace, first with the birth of Prince William and then Prince Harry. It is likely that Kate Middleton was already planning to deliver all of her children in a hospital, but the addition of pregnancy complications made this a sure thing.

Prince William and Kate Middleton announced today that they are expecting a third child after Middleton spent time in the hospital last week, suffering again from Hyperemesis Gravidarum, a type of pregnancy complication. After the announcement of the pregnancy, the palace released a statement about Middleton’s complications.

“As with her previous two pregnancies, the Duchess is suffering from Hyperemesis Gravidarum. Her Royal Highness will no longer carry out her planned engagement at the Hornsey Road Children’s Centre in London today [Monday]. The Duchess is being cared for at Kensington Palace.”

This is also something new, as, in past generations, this would not have been considered the business of the public. The palace press corps and press office have also modernized along with the royal family.


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It is likely that with Prince Charles as heir to the throne and Prince William next in royal succession that things will continue to change in terms of rules for being a modern royal.

What do you think of the new royal rules versus the old ones? Are you surprised that Prince George and Princess Charlotte are going to preschool?

[Featured Image by Chris Jackson/Getty Images]

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