The Most Powerful Royals In The Royal Family, Ranked

Queen Elizabeth II died on September 8, 2022 after reigning for over 70 years, per NPR. The royal family fled to her bedside at Balmoral Castle, save a few familiar faces. Catherine, the Princess of Wales, did not rush to Balmoral, Page Six reports, because she was with her and Prince William's children — Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis — who had just started school.

Meghan Markle was another member who didn't go to Balmoral, despite husband Prince Harry rushing with the rest of his family to the queen. Royal biographer Katie Nicholl told ET Online, "But Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, was not, we understand, invited to join the family," Nicholl said. "She has said she will go to Balmoral another time. But I think it is quite significant that Prince Harry traveled to Balmoral on his own without his wife."

There was, first and foremost, a lot of focus on the dynamic between Catherine and Meghan, with a lot of attention to the differences between the two women; Catherine seems to prefer privacy while Meghan and Harry chose Oprah Winfrey as an opportunity to vent. But the queen's death has brought on a whole new shift in the family, most obviously in the form of succession. Prince Charles became King Charles III and William and Catherine became the Prince and Princess of Wales — and it's also brought to light other power structures within the firm.

King Charles III waited 70 years to become king

Unsurprisingly, the most powerful member of the royal family is King Charles III, since he became the sovereign the moment that Queen Elizabeth II died. Because of the queen's long life, Charles is the oldest person to become monarch in British history, per USA Today. His wife, Camilla, is Queen Consort and the two will be officially crowned on May 6, 2023, according to a statement issued by Buckingham Palace. In an oh-so-English moment, the palace said, "The Coronation will reflect the monarch's role today and look towards the future, while being rooted in longstanding traditions and pageantry." Lord knows the royals love pageantry.

So what will Charles' reign look like? It's tough to predict, but we can safely guess that the topic of climate change, something he has championed for decades, will continue to occupy his mind. Nevertheless, as king, Charles will be wary of taking sides. Even as early as 2018, he was easing back on strong political stances. "He's been expressing his views less and less," a royal insider told Vanity Fair. "Everything that is too political he is transitioning out of," they said. "One of [my] duties has been to find solutions to the vast challenges we face over accelerating climate change," Charles wrote, per Vanity Fair. "If we don't engage with these issues, and many other related and critical problems that they inevitably compound, we will all be the victims. Nothing escapes."

Prince William is first in line for the throne

Prince William became the Prince of Wales following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, along with wife Catherine, who became the Princess of Wales. The title is a big jump, making him first in line for the throne and that much closer to the crown. While it's nothing he didn't expect, royal sources have said that with the new role, and a move from Kensington Palace to Adelaide Cottage on Windsor Park, William and Catherine are reeling from all the changes. "Things were very tense that week; it was not exactly the settling-in period they had hoped for," the insider told People.

The new title for William is a big one. He also became the Duke of Cornwall and inherited the highly lucrative Duchy of Cornwall, which Fortune estimates to be worth $1.2 billion dollars. The duchy spans 130,000 acres of land, according to People, and covers regions of both England and Wales. "He is going to very much take an active role in it. He is fully immersing himself in it," a royal insider told People.

When it's all said and done, as the BBC notes, William's primary task is to support his father, King Charles III. It sounds simple but it's no small feat and to make matters even better, William and Charles are reportedly closer than ever. A source later told People, "Talking about the future of the country and their future roles has strengthened their bond."

Catherine, the Princess of Wales, could arguably be at the top of the list

When Prince William becomes king, Princess Catherine will officially become the Queen Consort, since she is ascending the throne as a spouse of the monarch rather than by a bloodline succession. When King Charles III took the throne, he said in a speech, "With Catherine beside him, our new Prince and Princess of Wales will, I know, continue to inspire and lead our national conversations, helping to bring the marginal to the center ground where vital help can be given," according to Vogue.

While Catherine doesn't follow the line of succession like her husband and children do, some argue that she is, in fact, the most powerful member of the royal family. Royal journalist Camilla Tominey told The Telegraph, (via British Heritage), "When it comes to their generation, you could say [Kate and Prince William] are ruling the royal roost." Royal biographer Kate Nicholl confirmed the idea that Catherine holds a considerable degree of power. "There are two roles for future Queens," she said, according to British Heritage. "One is to produce heirs, which she has done, and one is to learn how to one day become Queen. And that is very much what we are seeing. We are seeing a queen in waiting." Nicholl added that Catherine's royal duties continue to grow and that she is in the public eye more than ever, so it's clear that the royal family sees how invaluable she is.

Prince George is getting ready for his role as king

While he's still just a wee lad, Prince George has a major destiny mapped as second in line to the throne. It's an astounding thought, knowing that a little boy will one day hold so much power, giving his parents the careful task of rearing him carefully. U.K.-based founder of Safe & Sound Childcare Events Stephanie Wallis, told Express how Prince William and Princess Catherine's parenting was centered around creating a normal life for him and his siblings, and keeping them humble.

Wallis said that she knew of Catherine and William's parenting strategy of rewarding children for chores by giving small cash allowances. "There is greater importance for Prince George to learn the value of money because money is no object for him," Wallis said. "We know that Kate and William are very hands-on parents who teach their children in a way that will keep their feet firmly on the ground and humble as they grow up," she added.

Following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, George's last name changed, per People. He was previously known as George Cambridge, since his parents were Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. However, now he is George Wales after his parents became the Prince and Princess of Wales. It marks another in the long list of changes that George has faced: His family moved to Adelaide Cottage on the grounds of Windsor Park and he began school at Lambrook right before his grandmother died.

Princess Charlotte could be even more powerful than her brothers

Princess Charlotte, younger sibling to Prince George, is third in line for the throne and, like her older brother, Charlotte's young rearing is carefully monitored by parents Prince William and Princess Catherine. In fact, People claimed that Catherine was the one who gently held power in the family. She is a matriarch. Not in the sense of an older woman in a twin set and pearls, but she guides the family and advises [William] when he wants it," Prince William's former press secretary, Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, told the outlet. Catherine understands that she's carrying on a tradition, but she also wants to do so in an updated way. "She will do so with humility and by acknowledging the past but in her own way," Lowther-Pinkerton said.

While Charlotte is carefully parented, she also holds some impressive sway of her own. The Evening Standard published a study compiled by Electric Rides on Cars that claimed that Charlotte was first on a 2021 list of the world's richest children. The study claimed that her net worth was £3.6 billion — over $4 billion in U.S. dollars — because of the same charm her mother has, dubbed the "Kate Middleton" effect. What Charlotte wears and shows interest in holds a lot of economic sway and, like her mother, she has the capacity to influence shoppers and product movement. That's an impressive feat for someone who's still getting packed lunches and dropped off at school!

Prince Louis is the little royal spitfire

Prince Louis is fourth in line for the throne following his two older siblings and father. The stature of his position is all the more funny considering how much mileage he gets in the press for his youthful antics. At the Platinum Jubilee for Queen Elizabeth II in June 2022, Louis stole the show with his sassy outbursts, according to Hello! Magazine, which were completely understandable for the then-four-year-old.

People were so charmed by little Louis that the good world of TikTok shared an old video of the late Princess Diana carrying Prince Harry and dealing with a young Prince William, who seemed as rambunctious as Louis. In the video, young William refuses to come inside. In response, Diana says, "All right. Harry will have all the fun then." This works wonders, prompting little William to scream, "No, no, no" all the way inside. Genius parenting. The similarities between father and son created a wave of comments. "I see where [Prince Louis] gets it from," someone wrote in the comments.

Following the death of his grandmother, Louis seemed to struggle comprehending what it meant that the queen was gone. When Catherine, the Princess of Wales, greeted mourners outside of Windsor Castle, she told one onlooker, "Louis said at least Grannie is with great grandpa now." The video also went viral on TikTok and captured the princess tearing up over Louis' comment.

Harry, the Duke of Sussex, is still in line

Despite stepping down as a working royal, Prince Harry is still in the line of succession following his older brother, Prince William, and William and Princess Catherine's children. Just because he stepped away from royal duties doesn't mean he couldn't hypothetically be king, British Heritage points out, because succession depends on the bloodline.

Now that his father, King Charles III is king, Harry has a different relationship with the royal family. When media personality Lizzie Robinson spoke with King Charles in a Twitter video clip, fans spotted a framed photograph of Meghan Markle and Harry's wedding. King Charles made another concession for his son: After the death of Queen Elizabeth II, Harry wore civilian clothes when walking behind her coffin, The Guardian notes, despite having served in the military. The reason was that after he stepped away from the royal family, he was forced to give up his military titles. However, at his grandmother's funeral, King Charles allowed Harry to wear his military uniform. It was a major olive branch from father to son, but also from king to heir, sending the message that Harry may have started a new life in California with Meghan, but he is always family, and for royals, that means potential access to the crown.

Master Archie Mountbatten-Windsor is more royal than ever

Following in his father's footsteps, Master Archie Mountbatten-Windsor is also in line for the throne. Archie is sixth in the line of succession, according to The Guardian. Archie and his younger sister, Lilibet Mountbatten-Windsor, are perhaps the most interesting on the list of most powerful members in the royal family precisely because their parents, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, stepped away from the royal family to live in the United States. While one might guess that such an act would eliminate Harry and his children from the succession to the crown, this is not so.

Because their grandfather, King Charles III, is king, it brings Harry's children greater royal privilege. As Newsweek points out, it is possible for both Archie and Lilibet to carry the "HRH" title as either prince or princess. While it might be shocking, it does prove that for the British monarchy, bloodline is everything.

A tangential point came up before Queen Elizabeth II died, when many wondered if Prince William could jump over his father and become king, since William was more likable and youthful. However, Dr. Robert Morris of University College London explained to the New York Post that such things never happen. It would completely delegitimize the aura of succession, something the royal family is keen to keep front and center. So in this converse case, Harry stepping away does nothing to take the crown away from himself or his children.

Miss Lilibet Mountbatten-Windsor's link to the queen

Lilibet Diana Mountbatten-Windsor, the second of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's children, is also a contender for the throne. She was born after her parents stepped away as senior members of the royal family, and so her upbringing has been vastly different from that of her cousins, Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis, of Prince William and Princess Catherine.

Lilibet did, however, get to meet her royal relatives when her family returned to England to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee in England in June 2022. For King Charles III, the visit was especially poignant. "He hadn't met Lili, his granddaughter, and so to meet her was very emotional, a very, very wonderful thing," a source told the BBC. Lilibet also meet the queen, an insider told People, in a family gathering behind the scenes. Harry made reference to this after the queen died, when he wrote a tribute to his grandmother. "Granny, while this final parting brings us great sadness, I am forever grateful for all of our first meetings — from my earliest childhood memories with you, to meeting you for the first time as my Commander-in-Chief, to the first moment you met my darling wife and hugged your beloved great-grandchildren," he said in a statement. That must have been a very special moment for the queen to meet her young namesake.

Princess Anne reigns supreme

While Princess Anne, the only daughter to Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, is sixteenth in the long line of royal succession, she transcends others on the list as a powerful member of the royal family because of her steadfast dedication to the crown. The Princess Royal gets her unique title because she was the daughter of the queen and, interestingly, will hold it until she dies. Even when Prince William becomes king, making Princess Charlotte rightful heir to such title, it won't come to her until Anne has passed away. "It is a title that remains for life, so Princess Charlotte will have to wait at least until the death of the current Princess Royal," royal expert Duncan Larcombe told Town & Country.

What makes Anne both so beloved and respected is her dogged work ethic. As The New York Times points out, she has long held the record as one of the hardest-working royals and resists drama and attention. But what's made Anne shine as of late is the way she responded following the death of her mother. She was the first woman to ever walk in the monarch's funeral procession, USA Today notes, and she stood in the Vigil of the Princes, something traditionally done by men. Best of all, she did it in a military uniform. She did it without fanfare or fuss, and simply paid her respects to both her monarch and mother. That, certainly, is a position of power.