Titles traded amid changes in royal line of succession

Senior royals have already had significant changes following the death of the Queen overnight.

The most obvious is the Prince of Wales, who became King Charles on the moment of his mother’s death.

His eldest son Prince William, now the heir apparent to the throne, also has a new title.

William, 40, and wife Kate Middleton, also 40, became officially known as the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and Cambridge on Friday, taking on titles previously held by Charles and his wife Camilla.

William and Kate also retain their titles as Earl and Countess of Strathearn while in Scotland, and Baron and Lady Carrickfergus in Northern Ireland.

Their social media was updated on Friday (Australian time) to reflect the change.

It is expected, although not confirmed, that with Charles’ ascension to the throne, William, now king-in-waiting, will inherit the title of Prince of Wales. It is a title traditionally given to the heir to the throne, although the handover is not automatic.

That is also likely to trigger another change not seen in the royal family in decades. Kate may take on the the title of Princess of Wales, making her the first person to hold the title since Charles’ first wife, Princess Diana.

The first post from the new social media accounts of the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and Cambridge on Friday (Australian time) was to acknowledge the death of the Queen.

“The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon. The King and The Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow,” it read.

William and Kate’s official royal duties will likely significantly increase as they take centre stage alongside King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla.

The Queen’s death on Thursday came a day before the three Cambridge children were due to officially start at their new school. The family moved to Adelaide Cottage, on the Windsor Castle estate, just a couple of weeks ago, to be closer to the Queen and allow the young royals to all attend the same school.

William’s three children follow him in the line of succession.

Nine-year-old Prince George is second in line to the throne, followed by his sister Princess Charlotte, seven, and four-year-old Prince Louis.

William was on his way to Balmoral with other senior royals – his uncles Prince Edward and Andrew, and Edward’s wife Sophie – when the Queen died on Thursday night. Kate reportedly stayed at home in Windsor with the children.

george charlotte louis school

William and Kate with their children on their first day of school earlier this week. Photo: AAP

Harry and Meghan

William’s younger brother Harry also missed being with the Queen when she died.

Harry, who lives in California with wife Meghan Markle and their two young children, Archie and Lilibet, was in Britain this week for charity events.

He cancelled an event on Thursday to fly to Scotland when the Queen’s health began to fail. But he was still in the air when the announcement came.

With the Queen’s death and his father’s accession to the throne, Harry is now fifth in the line of succession.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were stripped of their HRH titles when they quit royal duties more than two years ago.

But the Queen’s death brings more confusion around Archie and Lilibet.

Protocols established by King George V in 1917 stipulate that children and grandchildren of a sovereign have the automatic right to the title His or Her Royal Highness and prince or princess.

When Archie was born in 2019, he was the great-grandchild of a sovereign (the Queen), and not given the title prince.

Charles’ ascension means that three-year-old Archie and one-year-old  Lilibet are grandchildren to the sovereign and therefore, presumably, entitled to be known as prince and princess. There is speculation the new King may issue his own protocols to restrict the titles further.

Prince Harry in a black car

Prince Harry arrives at Balmoral after the death of his grandmother. Photo: AAP

In their bombshell TV interview with Oprah Winfrey last year, the Sussexes said they had been told Charles would move to alter the rules to reflect his vision of a slimmed-down monarchy.

What this means for Archie and Lillibet is so far unclear. Regardless, the US-based tots are now sixth and seventh in the line of succession to the British throne.

The homepage for the Sussex’s website, Archewell, carried a tribute to the late Queen on Friday: “In loving memory of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. 1926-2022.”

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