Public opinion for Prince Charles severely wavered in the 1990s due to various scandals relating to Princess Diana, and many have wondered if Queen Elizabeth may simply skip over her eldest son and give the crown to Prince William, next in line for the throne after Charles.
But is Queen Elizabeth allowed to bestow the crown on the family member of her own choosing? Even the Queen is expected to adhere to royal protocol, and that includes who sits on the throne and when, according to Cheat Sheet.
While the Queen is actually exempt from a great many British laws, the rules of royal succession are very rigid. Succession is fixed. That means that no matter what happens, or what the British people themselves may want, the Queen is obligated to follow the established line of succession.
She doesn’t have a choice. Prince Charles will follow her to the throne. The only way this could change is if the line of succession itself is officially changed, a process that would be a history-making undertaking.
According to the law, Queen Elizabeth simply isn’t allowed to choose her successor to the throne. She can’t choose ever.
Should the successor to the throne die, step down, or violate succession rules in some way that renders this person unfit to rule, the next in line will become the monarch. The current monarch still doesn’t get to choose, and royal succession will still be followed.
Succession is determined at birth, and it’s basically carved in stone at that point. As the firstborn of Elizabeth, Charles will follow her to the throne regardless. Since succession is regulated by a Parliamentary statute, Parliament would have to change the royal order of succession. No royal family member has the authority to do it.
According to the official royal family website, succession as it plays out today was determined in the late 1600s and early 1700s.
The line of royal succession right now stands this way: Prince Charles, Prince William, Prince George, Princess Charlotte, Prince Louis, Prince Harry, Prince Andrew (he is Elizabeth’s second son), and his daughters Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, in that order.
The royal family is clearly preparing for the days when the crown rests on the head of Prince Charles. Just 20 years ago, The Daily Beast reports, he was “the most hated man in Britain.”
Earlier this month, a 62-gun salute heralded his 70th birthday. Queen Elizabeth has already turned over many duties to her son, and some speculate that she will retire as monarch and allow her son to reign within a few years.
“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,” the Queen said in a birthday speech to her oldest son.
“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.”
And 20 years ago, the Queen refused to attend her son’s wedding to Camilla Bowles-Parker.
Charles is no longer Britain’s most hated man, but he’s far from the most loved family member. A November poll shows Charles as the seventh most popular royal. He’s behind his mother, his sons, and their spouses.