What number am I in line to the throne?
April 19, 2005 8:54 AM   Subscribe

What is the protocol for establishing who's next in line to the British throne? I understand that being an actual royal may get you into the Top 20 or so, but how do I find out if I'm 13,000,000th or 40,000,000th, or maybe not even permitted to rule this noble land for one reason or another in the case that there were some kind of Establishment-culling freaky accident?

I'm not optimistic that I'd get the call in such a case - I'm British but I don't even think you have to be a citizen, after reading in the newspapers a few years ago that George Bush Sr is a distant cousin of the queen and actually 913th in line. Anyway it would be nice to find out, so I'm asking metafilter.
posted by uk_giffo to Law & Government (9 answers total)
Best answer: Knowing where you are in the line-up would be interesting. I think you'd have to do some serious genealogical research and that can be expensive even if you do it on your own.

Here are the first fifty in line for the throne.

The basic rules (from here):
The succession to the throne is regulated not only through descent, but also by statute; the Act of Settlement confirmed that it was for Parliament to determine the title to the throne.

The Act laid down that only Protestant descendants of Princess Sophia - the Electress of Hanover and granddaughter of James I - are eligible to succeed. Subsequent Acts have confirmed this.

Parliament, under the Bill of Rights and the Act of Settlement, also laid down various conditions which the Sovereign must meet. A Roman Catholic is specifically excluded from succession to the throne; nor may the Sovereign marry a Roman Catholic.

The Sovereign must, in addition, be in communion with the Church of England and must swear to preserve the established Church of England and the established Church of Scotland. The Sovereign must also promise to uphold the Protestant succession.
posted by deborah at 9:09 AM on April 19, 2005

From the Wikipedia article on the British monarchy: "Succession to the British throne is restricted by the Act of Settlement to Protestant descendants of Sophia, Electress of Hanover, with male heirs having precedence over females, and those who have married a Roman Catholic excluded." If you're a descendant of Sophia, you probably know it.

There's also a Line of succession to the British Throne article (showing the first 161, which may or may not be the whole list), and I don't see "uk_giffo" there.
posted by Plutor at 9:15 AM on April 19, 2005

Since you have to be a descendent of Sophia, there is a finite number of such people. I believe I saw a list on the internets once that was supposed to be as complete as possible, and it had thousands of people on it.
posted by grouse at 10:25 AM on April 19, 2005

Neil Gaiman short story spoiler alert:

Incidentally, Neil Gaiman's short story "We Can Get Them For You Wholesale" involves a man who looks up how many people he'd have to kill to make himself king.

Granted, this is probably a common spec-fiction theme.

Maybe you could find out through the Genographic Project.
posted by NickDouglas at 11:01 AM on April 19, 2005

As far as I know, the royal houses of Europe are all thoroughly interwoven in such a way that even if the entire British royal family were kidnapped by aliens, a throneless royal or a younger sibling of a monarch (e.g. Juan Carlos of Spain is in line for the British throne, although his heirs would have to convert to CoE, what was it that Henry of Navarre said?) inheriting would be more likely than a mere commoner.
posted by Octaviuz at 12:52 PM on April 19, 2005

From the Wikipedia article, linked at the bottom: a somewhat outdated list of all descendants of Electress Sophia as of January 1, 2001. There's 4500+ names on the list.
posted by Melinika at 1:00 PM on April 19, 2005

Guardian discusses the issue and interviews #66.
posted by cushie at 1:05 PM on April 19, 2005

Sorry Octaviuz, that's incorrect. Under British law, the second person in line to the throne, Prince William, is a commoner, since he is neither a sovereign or a peer. Peter Phillips, the eighth in line to the throne, does not have any kind of courtesy or royal title either.
posted by grouse at 1:22 PM on April 19, 2005

Hmph. Just went through the whole list (sad, eh?) and I'm not there. However, there is some consolation, small that it is, in that the surname "Bush" does not appear.

uk_giffo - are you there?

Thanks for the list, Melinika.
posted by deborah at 8:56 PM on April 19, 2005

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