23 April 2018

Princess Charlotte Breaks Glass Ceiling

Not quite three years old, Princess Charlotte of Cambridge has done something no other British princess has ever done before:  she has kept her place in the Line of Succession following the birth of a younger brother. Thanks to the Succession to the Crown Act of 2013, girls now have equal rights to the throne as boys. Succession is now based on birth order. (Confirmed Catholics are still banned, but their spouses are now eligible after being banned since 1688.) Prior to this, daughters always fell in line after their brothers. In fact, Queen Elizabeth II would never have been queen if she had had a brother instead of a sister.

Let's take a look at some of the royal sisters who lost their spots to brothers, starting with the most recent:

The Lady Louise Windsor
by Mark Jones via Wikimedia Commons
The Lady Louise Windsor (born 2003)
The Queen's youngest granddaughter was born prematurely by emergency C-section after a placental abruption threatened the lives of both her and her mother, the Countess of Wessex. Despite the rough delivery and an earlier ectopic pregnancy, the Countess and her husband, Prince Edward, went on to have another child in 2007. Since this child was a boy, James Viscount Severn, he leapfrogged over Louise in the succession. Now aged 14, Louise is best known for having served as a bridesmaid at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Born 8th in line to the throne, Louise moved to ninth after her brother's arrival. Following the births of the three Cambridge babies, she is currently #12.

Lady Helen Windsor (born 1964)\
The third of four royal babies born in 1964, Lady Helen is the second child of the Queen's first cousin Prince Edward Duke of Kent. (The other four 1964 princelings were, in birth order, James Ogilvy, the Earl of Wessex, and Lady Sarah Chatto.) Helen followed her older brother George Earl of St. Andrews in the succession until their younger brother Lord Nicholas Windsor was born in 1970. Interestingly, George was removed from the line when he married a Catholic in 1988 and Nicholas removed himself when he converted to Catholicism in 2001. However, their children still fell into line ahead of Helen. With the 2013 Succession Act, George was returned to the line but Nicholas remains ineligible. George's two oldest children also became ineligible with their religious conversion. Born 12th in line, Helen is now at #41. Active in the art world and married to art dealer Tim Taylor, she has four children, aged 13 to 23.

The Princess Anne (now Princess Royal)
Photo from U.S. Navy via Wikimedia Commons
Anne of Edinburgh (born 1950)
Better known today as The Princess Royal, Anne was born third in line after her mother Princess Elizabeth and older brother Prince Charles. She moved up to second place upon her mother's accession in 1952. In the 1960s, she was displaced by two more brothers, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward. Since then she's been displaced by their children and by the Cambridge babies. Anne has two children and three granddaughters (with another grandchild due this year) with her first husband. She and second husband Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary in December. She is now 13th in line after her niece Lady Louise (above).

Alexandra of Kent (born 1936)
The third granddaughter of King George V and Queen Mary, Alexandra was the second child of Prince George Duke of Kent and Princess Marina of Greece. She was born on Christmas Day exactly two weeks after her Uncle David's abdication as King Edward VIII. For five years, it looked like she would remain firmly in line behind her older brother Prince Edward of Kent. In 1942, in the midst of World War II, their younger brother Prince Michael of Kent arrived, pushing Alexandra down a spot. Tragically, just six weeks later all of the Kent children moved up the line when their father was killed in a plane crash on active military duty. Alexandra grew up in the spotlight and was an it girl as a teenaged princess and young adult, always taking on royal duties. She married the Hon. Angus Ogilvy, a son of Scottish peer, who declined to accept a title of his own. Their children were simply styled as Mr. James Ogilvy and Miss Marina Ogilvy. Born sixth in line, Alexandra is now #51!

Mary of York (1897-1965)
Later known as Princess Royal, Mary was the third child and only daughter of the future King George V and Queen Mary. Born during her great-grandmother Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee year, she might have been named Diamond if one suggestion had been taken. She was displaced in the succession by not one but three more brothers. As a teenager, she emerged as a civic leader during World War I (see my post The Teenaged Princess and the Soldier) and married a much older peer, who later became Earl of Harewood, by whom she had two sons and several grandchildren. Born fifth in line after her grandfather, father, and two brothers, she had slipped #16 by the end of her life.

(From right) Louise, Maud and Victoria
By Sydney Prior Hall, in the National Portrait Gallery, via Wikimedia Commons
The Sisters of Wales
Edward Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) and his wife Alexandra has two sons followed by three daughters. The girls, Louise (1867-1931), Victoria (1868-1935) and  Maud (1869-1938) were all pushed down one spot when their little brother Alexander John was born in 1871. Sadly, they moved back up again the next day when the baby died. Louise later became Princess Royal and married the Duke of Fife. They had two daughters (read my post about their daughter Maud of Fife). Maud married a Danish first cousin who was later selected to be King of Norway. Their son Olav succeeded him on that throne and the Norwegian Royal Family remains the most closely related reigning family to the British. Victoria never married but remained close to her brother King George V until his death 11 months before her own. The Wales sisters, who were born fourth, fifth and sixth in the succession, did not fall very far. Louise died at tenth, Victoria at fifteenth and Maud at thirteenth.

Victoria of the United Kingdom (1840-1901)
Named Princess Royal just two months after her birth, Vicky was the first child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and was therefore first in line to the throne.. If she'd had no brothers, she would have succeeded her mother as Victoria II, albeit for a reign of just seven months. As it was, she held the position as heiress for just under one year. Generally speaking, Victoria's nine children alternated by gender (girl, boy, girl, boy, girl, girl, boy, boy, girl) so all of Vicky's sisters except the youngest, Princess Beatrice, were displaced by younger brothers. Vicky married and moved to Germany at age 17 and later reigned as Empress there for 99 days. Her husband was already suffering from cancer when he succeeded his father. Upon his death, his and Vicky's oldest child, Kaiser Wilhelm II ascended the German throne. The couple had eight children together, including a future Queen of Greece and two little boys who died young. Vicky fell from first in line to 28th at the time of her death.

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