A version of this story appeared in the July 30 edition of CNN’s Royal News, a weekly dispatch bringing you the inside track on the royal family, what they are up to in public and what’s happening behind palace walls. Sign up here.
When an eagle-eyed royal-watcher spotted that Prince Harry’s daughter, Lilibet, was missing from the line of succession on the royal family’s official website, it went viral on social media. Why was she left out? Doesn’t she qualify? Has she been ejected?!
The debate was understandable but academic. The line of succession isn’t drawn up and posted in an official pronouncement. Everyone’s place in it is automatic upon birth. This week, seven weeks after her birth, the website was updated, with Lilibet added in at No. 8.
Several British media outlets sought clarity from Buckingham Palace over why Lili was unlisted for so long, to which a spokesman said simply that the website is “updated periodically.”
Dated website aside, the list based on birth is sacrosanct. Even the Queen can’t choose who succeeds her. The very essence of constitutional monarchy is that the head of state isn’t elected and therefore avoids the political baggage that comes with being elected as head of state. British republicans say the system is fundamentally undemocratic and should be scrapped, but they’ve never gained enough public support to make it happen.
Ultimately, only Parliament has the power to replace the monarch with a president but there’s never been serious debate about that in Westminster. The argument you often hear from politicians is that you wouldn’t invent the system as it is now, but why change it?
Much of the credit for making it work goes to Queen Elizabeth, who is widely revered for the steadfast way she has carried out the role. Time will tell if Prince Charles commands the same respect. Another notion bandied about is that the Queen should hand the crown straight to the more popular Prince William.
But that would undermine the whole principle that the British head of state isn’t chosen and, again, only Parliament would have the power to make that happen.
Lilibet’s place in the line of succession has always been as assured as Charles’. The chances of her actually making it to the throne, however, are as unrealistic as the idea that the Buckingham Palace webmaster decides who the successors are.
WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING?
Harry and Meghan back UK journalists.
The Sussexes’ quest for a fairer and more diverse media landscape continued this week. Their foundation posted a statement throwing its support behind a coalition of UK journalists raising awareness of racial inequity in the industry. The statement highlighted a recent open letter signed by scores of reporters once more denouncing a UK media industry body, the Society of Editors, for its inaction on addressing racism. The body previously came under fire for arguing that sections of the country’s press were not bigoted or racist, in response to the Sussexes’ explosive Oprah interview. During the interview, Harry said racist coverage of his wife was a factor in their decision to relocate to the US. After being called out by more than 160 journalists of color, the head of the Society of Editors resigned in mid-March. The Archewell statement also said it was a “proud supporter of journalistic diversity and news media organizations that are committed to reporting the truth.” And it praised independent media and local journalists, which, it said, “demonstrate the deep need for this critical profession to thrive and evolve.”
Charles dedicates new national police memorial.
The Prince of Wales appeared at the dedication ceremony for the new UK Police Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire on Wednesday. Charles paid tribute to those who have died in the protection of others by laying a wreath, before addressing attendees, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel. “On behalf of the nation, I would particularly like to express my profound gratitude for the valor and sacrifice of those who have laid down their lives to keep us safe, to remember their families who mourn, and to recognize those who continue to serve in order to safeguard our freedoms,” he said.
A new royal show to binge this weekend?
Streaming service HBO Max has just premiered a new animated comedy series based on the British royal family, and it’s already splitting opinion. “The Prince” tells the story of life within the Firm from the imagined perspective of third in line to the throne Prince George, who turned 8 only a few days ago. The inspiration for the show’s creator, Gary Janetti, came from memes he would make on his Instagram account of George appearing to react to family and international news. Janetti – whose credits as a television writer and producer include “Will and Grace” and “Family Guy” – takes on the lead role, with Orlando Bloom voicing Prince Harry, Alan Cumming as George’s butler, Owen, and Sophie Turner as Princess Charlotte. In a surprise move, the streamer dropped all 12 episodes of the first season on Thursday. While this is hardly the first time the royal family have been satirized on screen, some on social media have been critical of using a child as the titular character. What do you think? Will you be watching? HBO Max is owned by WarnerMedia, the parent company of CNN.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK
Prince Charles was on hand in Sandringham, the Queen’s countryside bolt hole, on Tuesday as the estate released a threatened species of bird on the grounds. He joined Natural England’s chair, Tony Juniper, as 80 Eurasian curlew chicks were released in an effort to boost the birds’ population in the east of England. The Prince of Wales expressed his delight at Sandringham’s involvement in the project as he’d “always cherished the evocative call of the curlew, but it is now dangerously close to being something that our grandchildren will never have the chance to enjoy.” The passionate environmentalist added: “Every curlew nest is something to prize, nurture and protect, and it is utterly vital that we work together to turn this iconic bird’s fortunes around.”
FROM THE ROYAL VAULT
Thursday marked 40 years since Diana’s spectacular wedding to Prince Charles in 1981. Her short time as a royal would see her become an international icon who used her status to draw attention to a number of causes, from leprosy to domestic violence to mental health. The couple’s divorce in 1996 did little to relieve the intense media scrutiny “the people’s princess” faced. And despite her untimely death in 1997, she remains a beloved figure to this day.
We thought we’d have a look back at that momentous royal moment four decades ago. Take a look for yourself…
The Prince of Wales delivered a pre-recorded video statement in the closing session of the United Nations’ 2021 Food Systems Pre-Summit. Watch it here.