On Wednesday, January 8, 2020, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, a.k.a. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, surprised the world with an official announcement that they "intend to step back as 'senior' members of the Royal Family, and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen."
While Buckingham Palace processes the news, many people are asking the question: What does this mean for the line of succession to the British throne? The answer is pretty simple: Nothing. Harry will maintain his current position, which is sixth in line to the throne.
Though Queen Elizabeth II shows no signs of slowing down, here are the royals who could one day take her place on the throne—in one very specific order.
1. Prince Charles
As a direct result of his mother being the world's longest-reigning monarch, Prince Charles—the eldest child of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip—is the longest serving heir to the throne; he became heir apparent in 1952, when his mother ascended to the throne.
2. Prince William
At 37 years old, odds are good that Prince William, Duke of Cambridge—the eldest son of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana—will ascend to the throne at some point in his lifetime.
3. Prince George
On July 22, 2013, Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge welcomed their first child, Prince George of Cambridge, who jumped the line to step ahead of his uncle, Prince Harry, to become third in the line of succession.
4. PRINCESS CHARLOTTE
On May 2, 2015, William and Catherine added another member to their growing brood: a daughter, Princess Charlotte of Cambridge. Though Charlotte has a younger brother (more on him in just a minute), she will maintain the fourth-in-line position because of the Succession to the Crown Act 2013, which went into effect just a few weeks before her arrival, and removed a long-held rule which stated that any male sibling (regardless of birth order) would automatically move ahead of his older sisters.
5. Prince Louis
On April 23, 2018, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge welcomed their third child—Louis Arthur Charles, a.k.a. His Royal Highness Prince Louis of Cambridge—who pushed his uncle, Prince Harry, out of the fifth position in line to the throne.
6. Prince Harry
As the second-born son of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, Prince Harry's place in the line is a regularly changing one. It last changed in April 2018, when his brother William's third child arrived, and could change again if and when William and Kate expand their family. And while the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have decided to step away from royal life, his position will remain the same.
7. Archie Mountbatten-Windsor
Though the Duke and Duchess of Sussex didn't give their son a title, Archie has still pushed Prince Andrew, Duke of York, one step farther away from the throne.
8. Prince Andrew, Duke of York
Prince Andrew is a perfect example of life before the Succession to the Crown Act 2013: Though he’s the second-born son of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, he’s actually their third child (Princess Anne came between him and Prince Charles). But because the rules gave preference to males, Prince Andrew would inherit the throne before his older sister.
9. Princess Beatrice of York
Because Prince Andrew and his ex-wife Sarah, Duchess of York, had two daughters and no sons, none of that male-preference primogeniture stuff mattered in terms of their placement. But with each child her cousins Prince William and Harry have, Princess Beatrice moves farther away from the throne.
10. Princess Eugenie of York
Though she's regularly seen at royal events, Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson’s youngest daughter spends the bulk of her time indulging her interest in fine art. She has held several jobs in the art world, and is currently a director at Hauser & Wirth's London gallery. On October 12, 2018, Princess Eugenie had her own royal wedding when she married wine merchant Jack Brooksbank at St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle.
11. Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex
Like his older brother Andrew, Prince Edward—the youngest son of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip—jumps the line ahead of his older sister, Princess Anne, because of the old rule that put males ahead of females.
12. James, Viscount Severn
James, Viscount Severn—the younger of Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex and Sophie, Countess of Wessex's two children, and their only son—turned 12 years old on December 17, 2019.
13. Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor
Because the Succession to the Crown Act 2013 wasn’t enacted until 2015, Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor—the older of Prince Edward’s two children—will always be just behind her brother in the line of succession.
14. Anne, Princess Royal
Princess Anne, the Queen and Prince Philip’s second-born child and only daughter, may never rule over the throne in her lifetime, but at least she gets to be called the "Princess Royal.”
15. Peter Phillips
The eldest child and only son of Princess Anne and her first husband, Captain Mark Phillips, stands just behind his mother in line. Interesting fact: Had Phillips’s wife, Autumn Kelly, not converted from Roman Catholicism to the Church of England before their marriage in 2008, Peter would have lost his place in line.
16. Savannah Phillips
On December 29, 2010, Peter and Autumn Phillips celebrated the birth of their first child, Savannah Anne Kathleen Phillips, who is also the Queen’s first great-grandchild. She’s currently 16th in line.
17. Isla Phillips
Less than two years after Savannah, Peter and Autumn Phillips had a second daughter, Isla, who stands just behind her sister in line. It wasn’t until 2017 that Savannah and Isla made their Buckingham Palace balcony debuts (in honor of their great-grandmother’s 91st birthday).
18. Zara Tindall
Not one to hide in the background, Zara Tindall—Princess Anne’s second child and only daughter—has lived much of her life in the spotlight. A celebrated equestrian, she won the Eventing World Championship in Aachen in 2006 and was voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year the same year (her mom earned the same title in 1971). She’s also Prince George’s godmother.
19. Mia Tindall
Zara Tindall’s daughter Mia may just be approaching her sixth birthday, but she’s already regularly making headlines for her outgoing personality. And though she’s only 19th in line to the throne, her connection to the tippity top of the royal family is much closer: Prince William is her godfather.
20. Lena Tindall
On June 18, 2018, Mike and Zara Tindall welcomed their second child, another daughter: Lena Elizabeth Tindall. (Prince Harry is her godfather.)
21. David Armstrong-Jones, 2nd Earl of Snowdon
David Armstrong-Jones, the eldest child of Princess Margaret, isn’t waiting around to see if the British crown ever lands on his head. The 58-year-old, who goes by David Linley in his professional life, has made a name for himself as a talented furniture-maker. His bespoke pieces, sold under the brand name Linley, can be purchased through his own boutiques as well as at Harrods.
22. Charles Armstrong-Jones, Viscount Linley
David Armstrong-Jones’s only son, Charles, may be 22nd in line to the throne, but the 20-year-old is the heir apparent to the Earldom of Snowdon.
23. Lady Margarita Armstrong-Jones
Lady Margarita Armstrong-Jones, the youngest child of David Armstrong-Jones and his only daughter, is also the only granddaughter of Princess Margaret. Now a teenager (she is 17 years old), Lady Margarita made headlines around the world in 2011 when she served as a flower girl at the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton.
24. Lady Sarah Chatto
Lady Sarah Chatto, Princess Margaret and Anthony Armstrong-Jones’s only daughter, is the youngest grandchild of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. In addition to serving as a bridesmaid to Princess Diana, she is Prince Harry’s godmother.
25. Samuel Chatto
Samuel Chatto—the firstborn son of Lady Sarah Chatto and her husband, Daniel—has a long way to go to reach the throne: The 23-year-old is currently 25th in line.