Nearly a year after stepping back from senior royal duties, Prince Harry confirmed he and his wife Meghan Markle don’t want to return to working royal life.
Despite losing several patronages and honorary military titles, there is one aspect of royal life that doesn’t change with Harry’s choice to stop working for his grandmother – his position in line to the throne.
Harry is sixth in line to the throne, and his son Archie is seventh.
His second child will be eighth when he or she arrives later this year, but is very unlikely to have a royal title or ever take on royal duties.
In a snap poll by YouGov, nearly half of Britons said they wanted Prince Harry to lose his place in line to the throne, despite it being unlikely he would ever become King.
The poll of more than 4,200 adults found that 49% thought he should lose his place, with 28% saying he should be able to stay where he is.
But while the Queen can decide whether Harry gets to keep his patronages and his honorary titles, she can’t decide the order of the line of succession.
Professor Robert Hazell, from UCL’s Constitution Unit, explained: “The line of succession is laid down in law, most recently the Succession to the Crown Act 2013, which abolished the rule of male primogeniture and introduced gender equality.
“The Queen has no power to change the line of succession. Only Parliament can do that, as it did in the 2013 Act.
“So if Harry were to be removed from the line of succession, it would require legislation through an Act of Parliament.”
Watch: How the line of succession to the throne works
The Queen cannot bring that Act of Parliament in because the rules that regulate the monarchy are decided by Parliament, not the monarch.
And it’s unlikely that an MP would use parliamentary time to have Harry removed, when the chances of him becoming King are slim, even at sixth in line.
In 2003 and 2008, two people lost their place in the line of succession. In 2003, Lord Downpatrick, the grandson of the Duke of Kent, the Queen’s cousin, was confirmed into the Catholic Church, and lost his place in line to the throne.
Five years later, his sister, Lady Marina Windsor, did the same thing. If they had remained in the Church of England, they would currently be position 39th and 40th in line to the throne.
It also happened in 1978, when Prince Michael of Kent married a Catholic.
At the time, it was the law that anyone in line to the throne who married a Catholic would have to surrender their place. When he was born, Prince Michael was eighth in line, but he gave up his position at 15th in 1978 to marry Baroness Marie-Christine von Reibnitz, now Princess Michael of Kent.
However, the Succession to the Crown Act in 2013, changed his fortunes, but did nothing for Lord Downpatrick or Lady Marina.
After decades out of line to the throne, Prince Michael was restored when the law came into effect in 2015, allowing those who had married Catholics to remain in their place of succession. He is currently 49th.
His children were brought up in the Church of England, so they have always had a place in the line of succession. Their father’s restoration into the line will actually have bumped them down further.
But the law did not change anything for those who converted to Catholicism, so the Queen’s cousins twice removed were not reinstated.
The main reason a Roman Catholic cannot become the monarch is that a key role of the monarch is to be governor of the Church of England.
A report as the law was being reviewed noted; “The Queen at her Coronation promised, for example, to ‘maintain in the United Kingdom the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law’ and to ‘maintain and preserve inviolably the settlement of the Church of England’.”
It’s not clear what process took place when Prince Michael gave up his position in line to the throne, but when the Duchess of Kent decided to convert to Catholicism, she spoke to the Queen about it.
The duchess recalled: “I wanted to speak to her personally.
“She was most understanding. I’m right on the edge of the Royal Family, so it wasn’t going to affect anyone, but I did want to explain.”
Harry might be forging a new path, but he will always have a place in the line of succession.
Watch: Buckingham Palace confirms Harry and Meghan won’t return as working royals
— to uk.sports.yahoo.com