Here's What Will Happen When Prince George Becomes King

When Queen Elizabeth II died in 2022, it kickstarted a shift in the royal line of succession. Her son, Prince Charles, immediately became King Charles III — his eldest son, Prince William, became the direct heir to the throne. Later bestowing the title of Prince of Wales onto William, Charles made it clear that his son would be the future of the monarchy. At 74 years old when he was crowned king, Charles is guaranteed to have a much shorter reign than his mother's impressive 70 years on the throne — he will get a decade, maybe two, if he's lucky. This means that the British public and international community will likely see William become the next king sooner rather than later. Being in his 40s at the time of his father's coronation, the Prince of Wales is almost assured to have a much longer time on the throne alongside his wife, Catherine, Princess of Wales.

Next in the line of succession is the couple's eldest son, Prince George. Born in 2013, George is only 9 years old as of publication, but his role within the monarchy is already being well-established. Depending on his grandfather and father's sequential roles as monarchs, it's possible that George could be crowned within our lifetime, fulfilling the duties bestowed on the royal couple's firstborn. However, if and when he does become king, there are a few things that will happen to and around George that should be considered sooner rather than later.

A major shift will have to happen within the line of succession before George becomes king

The royal line of succession is a bit complicated, so let's break it down. King Charles III is the monarch, and the next in line is his eldest son, Prince William. Before William had children of his own, his younger brother Prince Harry was third in line to the throne — this changed when Prince George was born, as he circumvented his uncle in the lineup. Harry was pushed further and further down the line of succession with each child William and Princess Catherine had, placing him behind George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis.

In order for George to become king, a few things would need to happen relating to the line of succession. Firstly, Charles would more than likely have to die, making William king upon his death just as Charles took the throne immediately following Queen Elizabeth II's death. For George to take the throne, William would either have to abdicate, become completely incapacitated, or die — naturally creating a vacancy for his son to succeed him. Given that William is just 40 years old as of publication, it's likely that he will be in his 50s or 60s when he becomes king — if historical patterns of death on the throne play out. This would make George a young adult, allowing him to fulfill his royal role more publicly before taking the throne.

George found out about his royal fate when he was just 7 years old

For many, childhood can make up some of our fondest memories, when life was more or less uncomplicated and the biggest challenges came when deciding what breakfast cereal to have. But for Prince George, his early years played out in the spotlight, as he was born into a historic family with ties to one of the longest-lasting monarchies in Europe. Though Prince William and Princess Catherine have done their best to keep George and his siblings out of the public eye — giving them as normal of a childhood as possible — the young prince was reportedly informed of his role at just 7 years old, with his parents explaining to him what his future would likely include.

As exposed by royal historian and author Robert Lacey in his book, "Battle of Brothers," the Prince and Princess of Wales have kept the details of the conversation close to their chests, but George was told about his royal role early on.

"William has not revealed to the world how and when he broke the big news to his son," Lacey wrote in his book (via the Mirror). "But sometime around the boy's seventh birthday in the summer of 2020 it is thought that his parents went into more detail about what the little prince's life of future royal 'service and duty' would particularly involve."

William and Catherine started introducing George to public life at 8 years old

About a year after Prince William and Princess Catherine started explaining to Prince George that he would one day be the king of the United Kingdom, they started to introduce him to public life. As the coronavirus pandemic was raging, William and Catherine conveyed to their son that serving the public would be integral to his life as a royal, and they used their own work as an example. Prompting George to take up a cause of his own, his parents saw just how interested he became in environmental issues.

"[George was] annoyed by the fact they went out litter picking one day and then the very next day they did the same route, same time, and pretty much all the same litter they picked up back again," William told the BBC (via the Evening Standard) after George spent an afternoon cleaning up discarded trash on the grounds. Perhaps he'll follow in his father's footsteps and take on the Earthshot efforts when he's older.

By July 2021, George was once again out and about, this time joining his parents for the European Championship at Wembley Stadium. Matching his dad in his attire — a navy suit that complemented his father's, all the way down to the tie — George was fully on display for the public, supporting England in the stands.

How old does George have to be to become king?

We're going to get into the weeds of the monarchy and just how power transfers from one ruler to the next. Queen Elizabeth II became queen when she was just 25 years old, following the death of her father, King George VI. George, meanwhile, became king when his eldest brother, King Edward VIII, controversially abdicated the throne. All of this is to say that there isn't only one way for a royal to find themselves crowned the monarch of the United Kingdom, though it's likely that after King Charles III's reign, Prince William will take the crown, followed by Prince George. 

Charles is in his 70s and William is in his 40s, meaning that unless there is a family tragedy, it's likely that the public will see a decades-long reign on William's part. However, if for some reason the monarchy fell in the lap of George early in life, there are some age limitations to be considered.

George can technically go from prince to king no matter his age, even if he is not yet a legal adult. Though he could ceremonially be considered monarch, George would have to rely on a regency until he reached the age of 18. A regency is essentially when another member of the royal family steps in to take on the responsibilities of the crown, after which George would take on the role completely.

Prince George's reign could potentially bring Prince Harry back into royal life

So this begs the question as to who would step in if Prince George became king ahead of his 18th birthday — though the likelihood is low, stranger things have happened. A regent is someone close to the monarch that is a family member and in line to the crown themselves. "Bridgerton" fans will recognize that King George III — who was married to Queen Charlotte — was served by a regent, his son, when he was deemed mentally unfit. His son, King George IV, assumed the throne nine years after he became regent.

With this in mind, it might come as a bit of a shock to learn that if for some reason Prince William died while on the throne while his son George is still underage — leading to the establishment of a regency — the role would fall to Prince Harry (via University College London). Given that all of George's siblings are younger than him, and Princess Catherine does not have a stake to the throne without her husband given that she married into the royal family, Harry would be the next adult in line that would be obligated to step in and act as the monarch until George's 18th birthday.

As established, much tragedy within the family would have to happen between now and then, but George's role as monarch could bring Harry back into the fold if needed.

Here's what would happen if George refused to take the crown

We've all seen the fallout of Prince Harry's departure from royal life. Harry is far enough away from the throne to navigate his life the way he sees fit. Prince William, meanwhile, is the direct heir, followed by his young son, Prince George. Their stake to the crown is far more significant — but what if George decided that he did not want to assume the throne?

There are a couple of things that would happen if this were to be the case. George will become king upon his father's death, so he would have to abdicate the throne as King Edward VIII did in 1936. When Edward decided that he simply could not live his life without the royally disapproved Wallis Simpson by his side, he gave up the crown, married her in France, and lived the rest of his life far away from the confines of the monarchy. If George were to follow in similar footsteps, it's likely that he would be cast out of Britain — in a symbolic sense — much like Edward was.

The crown, meanwhile, would fall to the next in line to the throne, George's younger sister Princess Charlotte. Due to the Succession to the Crown Act passed in 2013, Charlotte is not circumvented by the next male heir — her younger brother, Prince Louis — in the line of succession, meaning that the responsibility would fall on her.

How does George feel about his royal duties and future as king?

Prince George is only 9 years old as of publication, but he's been in the public eye since he was born. From his trip to Australia as a baby to his meme-worthy audience with Barack Obama to his role on King Charles III's coronation day, George — for all the effort his parents have put into giving him a normal life — is the future king of England. This has prompted a lot of people to wonder how the prince feels about his fate. A royal source explained to People that Prince William and Princess Catherine are "cognizant that he is old enough to understand what's going on" all while maintaining that they want his life to be as non-royal as possible while it still can be.

Speaking directly of his role as a page on Charles' coronation day, a representative for William and Catherine further revealed: "His parents are very excited and delighted that he is a page. It's something that his parents have thought long and hard about and are very much looking forward to — and I'm sure George is too."

Meanwhile, royal author Hugo Vickers noted to The Times (via People) that George's feelings on the matter — and his presence at the coronation — were all carefully executed. "Bringing George in also sends all the right symbolism for the future and gives him something he will always remember," Vickers said.

The young prince's royal profile was heightened yet again during this momentous occasion

King Charles III's coronation day was — for all the controversy surrounding it — a momentous occasion that drew a huge crowd. Prince William and Princess Catherine definitely stepped into their own power on the day, and Prince George had a heightened role at the coronation as one of his grandfather's pages, responsible for carrying the ceremonial robes throughout Westminster Abbey. After the coronation took place, the newly crowned king posed for official portraits and was joined by William and George. Standing on either side of the monarch, William was adorned in his regalia ensemble, and George was in his red page's get-up. The photograph of the three generations together was incredibly symbolic, and the photographer, Hugo Burnand, spoke to Hello! about the messaging that he tried to capture through the camera.

"I did a lot of research in the archives of past coronations, and I didn't see any previous pictures of the line of succession," Burnand said. "While we have seen pictures of the Queen, Prince Charles and Prince William and Prince George, never have we seen them in the throne room with all the regalia. There's a lot of formality in that picture. But I think that I've managed to show the essence of the individuals at the same time, which to me makes it not just a historical document, but also a portrait."

George will likely take on his father's role before becoming king

If history is to repeat itself amid King Charles III's reign and beyond, Prince William will become king upon his father's death, bumping Prince George up. Charles was the Prince of Wales for the majority of his time as a royal, and when he became king, he bestowed the title onto William and Princess Catherine. Titles within the royal family are a big deal — some are allowed to be passed down, while others have to be given. The Prince of Wales title is one that must be bestowed, and when he was just 9 years old, Queen Elizabeth II declared she would make Charles the Prince of Wales. It's likely that when William becomes king, he will pass down the Prince of Wales designation to George, fulfilling a now decades-long precedent for the future kings of England.

As Prince of Wales, George will essentially be a king in training. Despite the connection to the country of Wales, the designation is more aligned with the actual monarchy and the continuation of its traditions. As such, George will most likely shadow his father as he rules, much like William is doing now with Charles, all while carving out his own space within the non-profit sphere. As Prince of Wales, William has dedicated himself to a number of principal causes — environmentalism being one of them — and it can be assumed that George will follow in his footsteps.

George will have to choose a reigning name when he takes the throne

Season 1 of "The Crown" showed a fictional Queen Elizabeth II being asked what she would like her regnal name to be. "Let's not complicate matters unnecessarily," she says (via YouTube). "My name is Elizabeth." And while the scene gave a chilling feeling to the monumental decision, a monarch can in fact choose a different name than their given one when they take the crown.

Much of the name changes that we have seen play out within the monarchy have had to do with regents that have come before. Many thought that King Charles III would choose a different name, given that King Charles II – who was on the throne back in 1660 — was a bit of a mess up by royal standards (not exactly the legacy you want following you). Looking further back in time, King George VI — Queen Elizabeth II's father — was actually named Albert, but he instead chose George as his regnal name.

So what will young Prince George choose to go by when he takes the crown? He could very easily become King George VII — the seventh George to take the crown in British royal history — or he could choose from his other monikers, given that his full name is George Alexander Louis. Time will tell what he eventually decides to do — though we can't imagine he'll have to make such a call any time soon.

Will the monarchy still be around by the time George becomes king?

Amid King Charles III's assumption of the crown and the symbolism of Queen Elizabeth II's death, many questions about the future of the monarchy have been raised. Many critics have maintained that the monarchy is out of touch, too expensive to justify, and unnecessary when it comes to the betterment of Great Britain. Charles' own coronation was fraught with protestors, and the stability of the crown has never been as rocky as it is as of publication. With that said, it's natural to ask if the monarchy will even be around by the time Prince George becomes king, and MSNBC's Hayes Brown shed light on that very question.

Amid the fallout of Elizabeth's death, Brown estimated that Charles and William "will oversee the unraveling of the monarchy itself" as the role that they fulfill is nothing more than an actor saying their lines.

"The crown and scepter will be costuming, allowing [Charles] to uphold the illusion that the monarchy still has a role to play in a modern constitutional republic," Brown clapped back about the future of the monarchy. "Charles, or more likely William, may yet find themselves presiding over a newfound surge of devotion to the Crown. But it is all the more likely ... that Elizabeth II be viewed in history as the last of the British monarchs to have any real claim of ruling the British people."

George and his siblings could reshape the monarchy drastically by the time he's king

So, will the monarchy be around when Prince George eventually becomes king? It's hard to say given that the institution is quickly losing steam. What could congruently happen, however, is a complete reshaping of the monarchy that could see George and his siblings, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, share the responsibilities of the crown between the three of them. Shedding light on this particular reshaping is Professor Pauline Maclaran, co-author of "Royal Fever: The British Monarchy in Consumer Culture." Maclaran told Express that not only have Prince William and Princess Catherine forged ahead and shared duties between them, but the same may be said for their children down the line.

"A more collective approach could be quite popular. Why just have one figurehead? Maybe the emphasis will move more towards the family side. Particularly with the three Wales children, the emphasis could be less on the individual and more on the three of them," Maclaran said, noting that such a dynamic shift could keep the monarchy afloat in the modern world. "Of course, constitutionally they cannot all be kings and queens, but I can see clearer roles for the three Wales children being thought out."