On Monday morning, Kate Middleton gave birth to her third child, a boy, with Prince William at the Lindo Wing of St. Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, London. The new baby’s arrival has not only given Prince George, 4, and Princess Charlotte, 2, a baby brother (whose name has yet to be announced), but his birth also holds historical significance.
Before the new baby was born, Princess Charlotte was fourth in line to the royal throne — behind her grandfather Prince Charles, father Prince William, and brother Prince George. But with the birth of her new brother, Princess Charlotte’s position in the line of succession to the throne will remain the same — for the first time in royal history.
Prior to Prince George’s birth in 2013, under English law, any older sisters in the royal family would be bumped down a spot in line to the throne with the birth of a younger boy. That’s what happened when Queen Elizabeth gave birth to two boys younger than Princess Anne, her second child. Instead of remaining second in line after her big brother Prince Charles, Princess Anne was pushed down a spot after her little brother Prince Andrew was born, and then again after the birth of Prince Edward.
However, while the Duchess of Cambridge was pregnant with Prince George, legislation was passed to change that law. Now, under the Succession to the Crown Act of 2013, the line to the throne is determined by birth order, regardless of sex. So, the fact that Princess Charlotte remains fourth in line, while her younger brother becomes fifth in line, is a first for the British royal family.
However, the birth does mean that Prince Harry, who was third in line to the throne before Prince William had children, has moved down yet another spot. Now he’s sixth in line to the crown. Luckily Prince Harry has a royal wedding to look forward to during this trying time.