Here's What Will Happen To Princess Charlotte When William Is King

Princess Charlotte, the second child and only daughter of Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, just celebrated her sixth birthday. By all accounts, she's a happy and outgoing girl who might not fully realize that her father will one day become king. She also may not understand that among her royal privileges is the right to be called by certain titles, both now and after her grandfather and father become king.

When it comes to the royal line of succession, it pays to be first. Until very recently the first son of a king or queen was designated as the heir to the throne, even if the firstborn child was a daughter. If a monarch had only daughters, the older one would inherit the crown — as was the case when Queen Elizabeth II ascended following the death of her father, George VI. The laws of succession were changed in 2013. Now any firstborn child of the reigning monarch is eligible to take the throne, regardless of gender (via Insider).

By those laws, Prince Charles will take the throne after the queen dies. Following him will be his first son, Prince William. From there, the crown will pass to his first child, Prince George. Princess Charlotte is currently fourth in line to the throne, but that will change if George has children of his own. George's firstborn would be the next monarch, dropping Charlotte into fifth place; any subsequent children will put her still farther down.

Charlotte could become a duchess, but probably not queen

Might we see this little girl grow to become Queen Charlotte? Yes — though it's highly improbable. In order to move into the top spot, her big brother George would have to abdicate the throne and let his sister take over. It's not unprecedented; Queen Elizabeth is currently monarch because her uncle, King Edward VIII, passed the honor over to her father, George VI. But it's more likely that Charlotte will acquire a batch of new titles when the family line undergoes its next shifts.

As The Things Celebrity explains on its YouTube channel, Charlotte is currently known as Her Royal Highness Princess Charlotte of Cambridge. And if that seems like a mouthful to write on a school paper, well, the princess doesn't use her titles at school. The Mirror recently revealed that Charlotte goes by the name "Charlotte Cambridge" at the elite private school she attends, a decision her parents made to give her a more normal upbringing.

When her grandfather Charles becomes king, Charlotte will add to her title. Prince William's only daughter will become Princess Charlotte of Cornwall and Cambridge. When William is elevated to Prince of Wales, she'll become Charlotte of Wales. Her brothers will become George and Louis of Wales. Things get more complicated after William ascends to the throne. Royal author Marlene Koenig told Express that Charlotte will actually lose a royal family title. "George will become Duke of Cornwall and then, of course, Prince of Wales," she explained. "But Charlotte and Louis will be of nothing."

Could Charlotte become Princess Royal?

As William's firstborn daughter (there's that "first" again!), Charlotte might be designated Princess Royal once William is king if her great-aunt Princess Anne has died by then. Princess Anne currently holds that title, which is given for the duration of her life. But Princess Royal, a title reserved for the oldest living daughter of a British monarch, comes with a price. Royal expert, Duncan Larcombe told Town and Country that "Under ancient British law, any man who sleeps with the Princess Royal before they are married is guilty of high treason—punishable by execution."

Such antiquated customs are probably why Princess Anne didn't get the title until 1987 even though she could have inherited the title as early as 1965. And Prince William may decide to hold off on a new title until Charlotte gets married and give her a duchess title instead, as his grandmother did when William married Kate Middleton (via Celebrity Cheat Sheet).

Whichever titles Charlotte picks up in the future, she's already inherited one royal role: that of a national fashion icon like her mother and grandmother, Princess DianaHello! reports that the $82.00 dress she wore in a photo celebrating her sixth birthday sold out within 12 hours. Dress designer Rachel Riley told the magazine, "I have no doubt that Princess Charlotte will become as much of a style icon as her mother is and I look forward to seeing Princess Charlotte's style develop as she continues to grow and mature."