With nearly 70 years as queen under her belt and seemingly no plans to retire or slow down any time soon, it'll likely be a while before we see Queen Elizabeth II replaced with a new monarch. Still, all reigning eras must come to an end, so there will eventually come a day when a new queen or, more likely, king takes the throne. And while the line of succession starts off straightforwardly enough—Elizabeth's firstborn, Prince Charles, is next up to rule the Commonwealth—things get confusing fast. Rather than simply moving through each generation in order of birth, the line of succession is interspersed with the children of each firstborn heir, then their children, too. That means, for example, that Prince William's 2-year-old son Prince Louis could be king before either his uncle or great-uncle—the latter of whom will soon be pushed to the ninth slot in line after the upcoming arrival of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's second child. All's fair in love and monarchy!
To help you navigate the archaic tradition that has governed the succession of the British royal family for centuries (with only a few minor updates in recent years), here's an outline of the next 10 royals in line to be king or queen.
First, of course, is Prince Charles, who will immediately begin serving as king when Queen Elizabeth II passes away. As the first child of the reigning monarch, Charles was born into the role of king-to-be.
As the firstborn child of the to-be-king, Prince William is next in line for the throne, followed by his kids with Kate Middleton. The family is so much more popular than Charles that it's been suggested that the crown could leapfrog right over William's dad to William and Kate, though this is extremely unlikely.
This 7-year-old's got a lot to look forward to: He could one day follow in his grandfather and father's footsteps to become king of the Commonwealth. If and when Prince George has children of his own, they'll jump in line right behind him.
Thanks to the Succession to the Crown Act of 2013, which mandated that the line of succession be governed by absolute rather than male-preference primogeniture, Princess Charlotte is the first female member of her family not to have her younger brother leapfrog over her in the line of succession. Though our chances of seeing a Queen Charlotte take the throne are slim—especially since she will be leapfrogged over by George's kids—it could still happen for this sassy 5-year-old!
Rounding out the Cambridges' path to the throne is 2-year-old Prince Louis. As Prince William's third child, Louis was born into the primo position of being able to capitalize on all the perks of being a royal, but with an extremely tiny chance of ever having to take on the responsibility of becoming king, since he'll be superseded by both of his older siblings' kids.
The "spare" in the notorious term "a heir and a spare," Harry is William's younger brother and Prince Charles's youngest son. Though relatively high up in the line of succession, he's very unlikely to ever take the throne, since all William's kids are ahead of him.
The current youngest member of the line of succession is 21-month-old Archie. If by some unfathomable turn of events he ever actually becomes king, he would be the first British monarch born to an American parent—let alone a half-Black American parent—which also makes him the first royal who's eligible to run for president of the U.S. Where's our zany comedy movie about this?!
Following Archie is his little sister, Lilibet ("Lili") Diana, named for both her grandmother, the late Diana, Princess of Wales, and her great-grandmother, the Queen.
Finally, with all the firstborns out of the way, we return to Queen Elizabeth's children. Because they were born before the Succession to the Crown Act was implemented, Andrew jumps ahead of his older sister, Princess Anne. Still, it's incredibly unlikely that he'll ever become king, and even less so now that his public duties have been suspended amid investigations into his ties to Jeffrey Epstein.
The elder daughter of Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, Beatrice is currently tenth in line for the throne, down from the comfortable fifth place she was born into in 1988. Any children she has with her new husband Edoardo Mozzi will immediately follow her in the line of succession.
Unfortunately for Princess Eugenie and her newborn son, the 30-year-old's days among the first 10 members of the royal line of succession were numbered. Though she was born sixth in line, she was pushed 11th with the arrival of Harry and Meghan's second child—then even further should her older sister have any children. Primogeniture strikes again!
A new arrival to the line of succession: August Brooksbank, son of Princess Eugenie, who was born on February 9, 2021, pushing Prince Edward and his family down a notch in the royal line of succession. Pretty impressive for a newborn, right?
Next up is Prince Edward, the youngest child of Prince Philip and the Queen. He's thought to be the closest to Prince Philip of any of the four direct descendants of the Queen.
Directly following his dad, Prince Edward, is James, Viscount Severn, who is 13 years old. When he was born, he was in eighth place, but when Meghan gave birth to her second child with Harry, he dropped to number 14.
Next up is Lady Louise, James' older sister. You might remember her for being one of Kate Middleton's bridesmaids at her wedding to Prince William. She's 17 now!
Princess Anne, known as the royal family's "trustiest anchor," is next, having carried out over 20,000 engagements. She's the only daughter of the Queen and Prince Philip.
You might not have heard of him, but Peter Phillips is Anne, Princess Royal's oldest son. He was also the Queen and Prince Philip's first-ever grandchild.
This absolute cutie is Savannah Phillips, born in 2010 as the first great-grandchild of Philip and the Queen. She's about to turn 11.
Also extremely adorable: Isla, Savannah's little sister. She's two years younger than Savannah.
Coming in at number 19 is someone you might have heard of: Zara Tindall, the only daughter of Anne, Princess Royal and Mark Phillips. A famed equestrian, Zara married rugby player Mike Tindall in 2011.