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For more than 65 years, Queen Elizabeth II has been the monarch of the U.K. And though she’s not going anywhere for the time being, she will one day be absent from the throne. When that finally happens, her son Charles will take over. And that will leave Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, in a new position too.

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Interestingly, the Queen actually welcomed Prince Charles into the world inside Buckingham Palace. This was on November 14, 1948, when Charles became the first child of the then-Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh. Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip – who had married one year before giving birth to Charles – are also parents to Prince Andrew, Prince Edward and Anne, Princess Royal.

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Charles received a private education, before beginning to attend Cambridge’s Trinity College in 1967. His time at that university actually made him the first heir to the throne to obtain a bachelor’s degree. And on top of that, the prince also went to the Royal Air Force College and the Royal Naval College.

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In fact, between 1971 and 1976 Charles completed a tour of duty as part of the Royal Navy. The royal has since been heavily involved in charity work, and in 1976 he founded The Prince’s Trust. This organization helps children and adults who are having a difficult time at school or who are unemployed.

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Arguably, however, Charles is known more for his private life than his charitable work. Yet what some people might not realize is that Charles actually dated Camilla Parker Bowles before he started a relationship with a certain Lady Diana. According to two royal biographies, the royal family allegedly deemed Camilla as an unsuitable bride.

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Ultimately, Charles and Camilla broke it off, and the prince tied the knot with Diana at St. Paul’s Cathedral on July 29, 1981. Then, less than one year later, Diana gave birth to her first child with Charles. Yes, on June 21, 1982, Prince William entered the world. And two years after that, on September 15, 1984, the couple welcomed another son, Prince Harry.

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What’s more, as William and Harry grew and developed, Diana worked hard to ensure that her children had a normal life – and an awareness of their privileges. She dropped them off at school whenever she could, for example, and even took them to theme parks. By contrast, the princess also made sure that her boys went with her to a number of royal engagements – including one to a homeless shelter.

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Before long, however, cracks seemingly began to appear in Diana’s marriage to Charles. In 1992, in fact, the pair separated – and they divorced four years later. And in the meantime, the prince allegedly admitted that when his marriage had become irreparable, he’d had an affair with his former partner Camilla.

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Diana allegedly had affairs, too, with one of the most speculated upon having apparently been with British Army officer James Hewitt. And to this day, rumors remain that Hewitt – rather than Charles – is the real father of Harry. That said, all parties involved have asserted that this is not the case, as Harry was already in the world when Diana started seeing Hewitt.

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In 1997, however, the entire episode ended in tragedy. That’s because on August 31 of that year, Diana died in a car accident in Paris. She was just 36 years old at the time of her death. Charles later traveled to France to transport her body back to the U.K.

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And the prince had to weather his own storm as the nation prepared for Diana’s funeral. In reaction to the loss, there had been a public outpouring of grief unlike any previously seen in modern-day Britain – with Charles bearing the brunt of some of the subsequent backlash. Had he not divorced Diana, it was suggested, she might not have been in Paris in the first place.

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Charles was not subsequently seen with another woman for a further two years following Diana’s death. Then, in 1999 Charles and Camilla appeared together for a birthday bash at London’s Ritz hotel. The couple had seemingly reignited their relationship, and in February 2005 they confirmed their engagement. They then married in a civil ceremony that April, and Camilla was later given the title of the Duchess of Cornwall.

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Yet it should be noted that Charles is more than just his love life. Throughout his adult life, after all, Charles has carried out duties on behalf of the royal family and the Commonwealth. He has also developed charities that focus on the environment, youth and education. And as well as being a dedicated environmentalist, Charles is additionally interested in architecture.

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Fascinatingly, Charles wouldn’t be first in line to the throne now if a shocking decision hadn’t occurred many decades ago. This concerned Edward VIII, who was made the monarch in 1936 after the death of his father, King George V. It turned out, you see, that he was in love with an American divorcee named Wallis Simpson.

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Yet the Church of England and the U.K. government didn’t approve of the union between the king and his proposed bride. After all, a divorcée was simply not a suitable wife. So, in an incredible move, Edward decided to vacate the throne. In fact, he announced that he would be abdicating after less than 12 months as sovereign.

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Edward declared at the time, “I have found it impossible to carry on the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge the duties of king, as I would wish to do, without the help and support of the woman I love.” The decision meant that his younger brother took the throne in his place. So the Duke of York therefore became King George VI, and Edward went on to marry Simpson the next year.

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And the specter of Edward VIII still hangs over the royal family. To this day, in fact, they arguably approach the concept of divorce far more cautiously than perhaps the average person would. When the already divorced Charles married the already divorced Camilla in 2005, for example, the Queen did not attend the religious part of the ceremony.

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There is, of course, the possibility that the Queen had actually wanted to be there, given that her oldest child was getting remarried. But rumor had it that she didn’t want to be seen putting her son over the Church of England’s beliefs. And while the Church no longer strictly forbids divorce or remarriage after divorce – as it once used to – it does strongly counsel against such things.

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Speaking to The Daily Telegraph in 2005, an anonymous “friend of the Queen” claimed that the monarch herself had said, “I am not able to go. I do not feel that my position permits it.” This unknown person then went on, “The Queen feels she has to put her role with the Church before her role as a mother.”

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The same issue came up when Harry prepared to tie the knot with Meghan Markle in 2018. Meghan was also a divorcée, having once been married to a film producer named Trevor Engelson prior to their split in 2013. And before Meghan’s wedding to Harry, questions arose regarding whether or not the Queen would attend the ceremony.

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Royal butler Grant Harrold told the Daily Express at the time, “Prince Charles’ wedding was 13 years ago, [and] times have changed. It could be a change of heart… You have the unfortunate Edward and Wallace Simpson episode, and 70 years later nobody blinks an eyelid.” Indeed, it’s now been more than 80 years since King George VI took the throne, and the royals – not to mention the world at large – have changed since then.

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In case you don’t know, King George VI was actually Queen Elizabeth II’s father.When George acceded to the throne, the future queen was ten years old, while her younger sister, Margaret, was aged six. Elizabeth then became the heir apparent. She was just 25 years old when she was made the monarch following the death of her father in 1952.

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This development seemingly came as a surprise to the young Queen. Although her father’s health had been declining for a while, it appears clear that Elizabeth had not been expecting him to die. At the time of his passing, after all, she was in Kenya with her husband, Prince Philip. The couple had actually spent the night at the Treetops Hotel in Aberdare National Park.

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According to Time, Elizabeth had been “in high spirits over her ‘tremendous experience’ and vowed to come again soon with her father.” She had apparently also stated that her dad would “love it” there. A BBC reporter further claimed that, just that morning, Elizabeth had been “talking about her father and proudly describing how bravely he’d stood up to his illness.”

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In any case, though, Elizabeth became Queen – and a young Charles took her place as the heir to the throne. He was just three years of age at that time. And while Elizabeth has since become the longest-reigning monarch in British history, Charles, in turn, has become the longest-serving heir.

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In fact, when Charles turned 70 in November 2018, it was noted that he is also the oldest heir apparent. And when he becomes king, he will also be the oldest monarch to be crowned in the history of the British royal family. This distinction was previously held by William IV, who was nearly 65 years old when he assumed the role in 1830.

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It’s for this reason that it’s been suggested that Charles could choose to abdicate the throne in favor of his son William. And this, it seems, could be a popular decision – at least as far as some of the British public is concerned. In fact, a StatistaCharts survey for The Week found that almost 50 percent of Britons would prefer to see William become king in Charles’ place.

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Furthermore, Diana reportedly had mixed feelings about Charles becoming monarch. This perhaps shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, considering their divorce was far from amicable. And in 1995 the princess spoke out about the subject on the BBC show Panorama, after journalist Martin Bashir asked her, “Do you think the Prince of Wales will ever be king?”

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Diana replied, “I don’t think any of us know the answer to that.” But she went on, “There was always conflict on that subject with [Charles] when we discussed it, and I understood that conflict. Because it’s a very demanding role, being Prince of Wales, but it’s an equally more demanding role being king.”

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More tellingly, Diana added, “Being Prince of Wales produces more freedom now, and being king would be a little bit more suffocating. And because I know the character, I would think that the top job, as I call it, would bring enormous limitations to him – and I don’t know whether he could adapt to that.”

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It nevertheless looks as though Charles has every intention of taking over the throne from his mother. And the Queen also appears to be preparing Charles to become monarch by handing over some of her responsibilities to him. In recent years, for instance, he has placed a wreath for Remembrance Day in her place.

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But what will actually happen when the Queen inevitably passes away? Well, when Elizabeth dies, it seems that a series of plans will be put into effect. This operation is reportedly known as Operation London Bridge. According to this supposed plan, the news of the Queen’s passing will be spread amongst civil servants with the phrase, “London Bridge is down.”

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According to a 2017 report by The Guardian, the BBC – as the British public service broadcaster – will also be informed of the breaking news via a system called RATS, or the Radio Alert Transmission System. Among some people, apparently, RATS also unofficially stands for “royal about to snuff it.”

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After that, Sir Christopher Geidt, the Queen’s private secretary, will apparently notify the prime minister of her death before the public is told. The PM must then apparently tell the 36 nations of the Commonwealth and the 15 countries over which the monarch rules. And when the news is made public, pilots will apparently announce it on flights, and flags will be put to half-mast.

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It’s also expected that people working in the U.K. will get the rest of the day off. Banks and stock exchanges will likely be closed when the Queen is buried too. There could be other marks of respect as well. For instance, after the death of George VI, the BBC ceased showing comedy of any kind on television until his funeral had passed.

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Before the funeral, though, the Queen’s body will likely be at Westminster Hall for four days to allow the public to mourn her. Then, she’ll probably be buried at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, where her parents were both laid to rest. The days of the funeral and the next coronation will reportedly be made into public holidays too.

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Charles will also immediately become king and will probably make a statement on the day of his mother’s death. He could then decide upon any of his given names – which include Arthur, Philip and George – to be used when he is ruler. Otherwise, he will be known as King Charles III, and his wife will potentially be Queen Camilla.

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Camilla’s title has long been a matter of some debate, however. In 2017 Charles’ biographer Sally Bedell Smith spoke to People about the process of coming up with a suitable honor for Camilla, saying, “It was obviously fudged when [Charles and Camilla] got married. Diana was so uppermost in many people’s minds. So, they concocted the notion of a Princess Consort, which is made up.”

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But Bedell Smith went on, “[The royal family] obviously have worked very hard to have [Camilla] accepted, and she has been accepted. If she were anything less than Queen Consort [when Charles is king], it would imply inferiority on her part… Most of the constitutional experts agree that by common law and tradition, [Camilla] is entitled to be queen.”

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But what will all this mean for William? Well, when George VI died and Elizabeth became Queen, Charles was made the Duke of Cornwall. He has, however, accumulated several other titles throughout his life. These include Duke of Rothesay, Lord of the Isles, Earl of Carrick, Baron of Renfrew, Duke of Cornwall, Earl of Chester and Great Stewart of Scotland.

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And while Charles received most of his titles when his mother was crowned Queen of the United Kingdom, this is not the case for all of them. The Prince of Wales is, for instance, a title that has been in effect since 1301. However, it’s not automatically given to heirs.

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The title is, as a matter of fact, reserved for male heirs to the throne. And there was no Prince of Wales when George VI was king, as he had only had daughters. So some six years after Elizabeth became Queen, she actually appointed Charles as the Prince of Wales.

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As part of his position as the Duke of Cornwall, Charles receives a salary from the Duchy of Cornwall. This territory was created by Edward III in the 14th century and consists of 131,000 acres of land and properties. And on top of everything else, it additionally includes an investment portfolio.

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The Duke of Cornwall – in this case, Charles – receives the money from the duchy in order to finance his various public and private enterprises. Such endeavors can actually include his charity initiatives. Furthermore, the fund can also help out his close family members, such as his children and his grandchildren.

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There is also a Duchy of Lancaster that is made up of land and properties, but this belongs to the Queen. She additionally receives funds from the British government’s Sovereign Grant. Unsurprisingly, then, there will be some major changes for the royal family and their titles when the monarch dies.

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Interestingly, there have actually been a number of changes to some royals’ titles in recent times. For instance, Charles’ sons were initially known by the names of Prince William of Wales and Prince Henry of Wales. Now, though, the pair’s titles have altered as a result of their respective marriages.

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When they married in 2011, for example, William and his wife Kate became the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Their children are therefore known as Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis of Cambridge. And after Harry’s wedding in May 2018, he and wife Meghan were made the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

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Of course, Harry and Meghan have a child now – a boy named Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor. Yet even prior to Archie’s birth, it was known that he wouldn’t necessarily have the title of “Prince.” And that’s all because of a decree that King George V – the Queen’s grandfather – made back in 1917.

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Specifically, the king proclaimed, “The grandchildren of the sons of any such Sovereign in the direct male line (save only the eldest living son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales) shall have and enjoy in all occasions the style and title enjoyed by the children of Dukes of these Our Realms.” Basically, unless you’re a male somewhere in the direct line to the throne, you’re not a prince.

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Yet the “male” part of that ruling is something that’s changed over the years. Before Kate and William had their first child, you see, the U.K. government adopted “absolute primogeniture” – meaning the first-born child of an heir could take the throne regardless of gender. With that, a younger boy in the line of succession would no longer take precedence over an older girl; gender equality had been placed into the equation.

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Still, Harry and Meghan ended up rejecting potential royal titles for Archie – at least while he’s still a baby. Yes, while the youngster could have been called the Earl of Dumbarton – the title his father holds in Scotland – instead he will be referred to as just “Master Archie” for the time being.

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That may all change, though, once the Queen passes away and everyone moves up the line of succession. Then, Charles will be king, while William will be the direct heir. And as Archie will subsequently be a grandchild of the monarch, he will be entitled to call himself “Prince” if he so desires.

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Will Harry receive a new title when his father becomes king? Well, probably not. Unless Charles wants to give him another dukedom – and that’s certainly not beyond the realms of possibility – Harry will likely remain as just the Duke of Sussex, with Meghan still the Duchess of Sussex.

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But as if all that wasn’t already confusing enough, there’s more. William, for his part, holds the titles of Earl of Strathearn and Baron Carrickfergus. Yet when Charles becomes king, William will therefore take up some new responsibilities. And as a consequence, his titles will be forced to change.

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As the eldest heir to the throne once Charles is king, William will inherit the Duchy of Cornwall and become the Duke of Cornwall. The duke has, in fact, already started attending duchy meetings. He and wife Kate will also be expected to be named the Prince and Princess of Wales.

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Royal Central editor Charlie Proctor revealed in November 2018 that plans are actually underway for this transition. “As per tradition, when Prince Charles does take to the throne, William and Kate will become the Prince and Princess of Wales, meaning he will take on additional duties to assist the monarch,” he told the Daily Star. “Just like Prince Charles is preparing to become king, William is already preparing to become Prince of Wales ready for the duties and responsibilities he will have to take on.”

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Proctor continued, “I think it is important to say that just like his father, William is also preparing to become king. There is no chance that William will be Prince of Wales for more than 60 years. As such, he must also learn the ropes because his time on the throne may come sooner rather than later.”

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And it’s clear that the Queen believes her son is more than capable of taking on the duties that come with being King of the United Kingdom. At a party she hosted for his 70th birthday, Elizabeth II gave a moving toast to Charles. “Over his 70 years, Philip and I have seen Charles become a champion of conservation and the arts, a great charitable leader – a dedicated and respected heir to the throne to stand comparison with any in history – and a wonderful father,” she said.

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Then, the Queen actually mentioned Charles’ second spouse. She added, “Most of all, sustained by his wife, Camilla, he is his own man, passionate and creative. So this toast is to wish a happy birthday to my son, in every respect a duchy original. To you Charles. To the Prince of Wales.”

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But bearing in mind that Charles is over 70 years old already, it’s only practical to assume that his reign will be a short one. And while William prepares to take over from his father, he’ll also likely be grooming his young son George to sit on the throne one day. So, while George reportedly doesn’t know yet that he’s in line to be king, he’s bound to find out before long.

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However, there are some who don’t believe that Charles will ever become king – regardless of whether his mother abdicates or not. In 2018 former royal butler Paul Burrell told Now to Love, for example, that “we will never see King Charles and Queen Camilla sat on the throne of England.”

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Why, exactly? Burrell went on, “Because when the Queen dies, she’ll be 100-and-something; she will never abdicate. When she dies, I think Charles will do the right thing and say, ‘I’m far too old for this responsibility.’”

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And yet there’s also a curious secondary issue at play: the notion that some of the royals don’t actually want to be kings or queens, at least not until they’ve lived their lives first. In the book Charles, Prince of Wales, for example, author Gill Knappett claimed that William doesn’t want to “climb the ladder of kingship” until he’s older.

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Furthermore, Harry himself has come right out and said that the role of monarch is not a coveted one among his relatives. “We are involved in modernizing the British monarchy. We are not doing this for ourselves but for the greater good of the people,” he told Newsweek in 2017. “Is there any one of the royal family who wants to be king or queen? I don’t think so, but we will carry out our duties at the right time.”

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And perhaps because the Queen sees her role as a duty – rather than a privilege – she’ll never renounce the throne. She suggested as much, too, in her 21st birthday speech back in 1947. “I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service,” were Elizabeth’s precise words.

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