In some monarchies, a ruling monarch may choose his/her successor by public declaration, or by testament.

In other, only an elder male child may inherit the throne, with no exceptions.

There were rumors circulated in some media that the Queen of the United Kingdom may choose her grandson William as the successor. Can she legally do this?


1 Answer 1



Succession to the British throne is determined by Parliament, not by the personal decision of the monarch.

The relevant law is the Succession to the Crown Act (2013). This amends the 1701 Act of Settlement, and sets down that the oldest child of the monarch, whether male or female, will succeed to the throne upon the monarch's death.

If Prince Charles is still alive at the time the Queen dies, the law says that he will become King. Any change to the line of succession before then would require a further Act of Parliament; not just in the UK, but in 15 other countries which have the Queen as head of state. No changes were made to exclude Charles in 2013, and they are highly unlikely to be made now.

However, there are precedents for a King to abdicate, the most recent being Edward VIII in 1936. If Prince Charles so chose, he could renounce the throne immediately and make William the King in his place. This also would require an Act of Parliament; but in the case of Edward VIII the Declaration of Abdication Act was passed very rapidly, and something similar could be done again.

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    To this, I'd add that interfering with the line of succession is considered treason (1702 Treason Act), punishable by imprisonment for life. I wonder if it applies to the Queen interfering, though?
    – yannis
    Commented Oct 5, 2017 at 11:24
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    @yannis: There is a precedent for a King of England being executed for treason. However: (1) The Queen's personal status is such that nobody is going to prosecute her; (2) she can say whatever she wants about the succession, but by itself that will not change the effect of the law after she dies; (3) lawful attempts to alter the succession, such as the 2013 Act itself, do not count as treason. Commented Oct 5, 2017 at 11:28
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    Unless Charles unexpectedly converts to Catholicism before the queen dies, in which case he can't be king, even if he subsequently converts back. Commented Oct 5, 2017 at 19:26
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    I'm not sure that's still true. Converting to Catholicism (for the purposes of succession) is like being dead, not like never having lived. Commented Oct 5, 2017 at 21:10
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    @rojomoke The 2013 act removed the restriction on people who married a Catholic. It still bars those people from succession who are Catholic themselves.
    – Philipp
    Commented Dec 4, 2019 at 15:49

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