When Queen Elizabeth II became Queen on the death of her father, she was only able to do so because she had no brothers. (Otherwise, her eldest brother would have become King, under rules still in place today.)

What if, on that event, her mother happened to be pregnant with a boy? Would that boy be the King?

Possible follow-up question: What if the pregnancy is so new that the gender is unknown?

(I'm specifically interested in what happens under today's laws. I'm using Elizabeth II as an illustrative example. I don't think the laws have changed since then but I'm clarifying here in case they have.)


As multiple comments have mentioned the laws governing succession in the Commonwealth are currently changing from male-preference primogeniture to absolute primogeniture.

In either case though, a foetus not yet born has no rights under the law of the UK, and as such would have no claim to the throne, as it would have no claim to inheritance from its father's estate on his death.

Thus is a monarch died under male-preference primogeniture the eldest living son at the time of death would become the new monarch, for lack of sons the eldest daughter.

Expanding to absolute primogeniture, on the death of a monarch with no living descendants but with a pregnant queen-consort would be succeeded by his eldest sibling (or their descendants) as he has no living descendants in the eyes of the law.

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    (+1) Interestingly, France does not have this problem anymore but in civil matters, it still applies the Infans conceptur pro nato principle. It seems the tradition in the UK is quite different. – Relaxed Feb 6 '15 at 13:49

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