The Future of the Monarchy Could See Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis Working as a “Collective”

Heir and spare dynamic, be gone.

Prince George, Princess Charlotte, Prince Louis
(Image credit: Getty)

While Prince George, as the oldest of the Prince and Princess of Wales’ three children, may be the heir to the throne, he and younger siblings Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis are seemingly being raised as equals, looking to eliminate “the heir and the spare” dynamic that so plagued William and younger brother Prince Harry. (It affected the latter so much that he titled his memoir Spare because of it.)

It seems the Wales trio are being raised to lead the monarchy in the future as a “collective,” The Daily Express reports. Because of his status as heir, George faces “more pressure” than Charlotte and Louis, according to royal biographer Katie Nicholl; this is “something William and Kate are acutely aware of,” she says. (Apparently the two are currently in a bit of a disagreement surrounding George’s role in his grandfather King Charles’ upcoming Coronation, Marie Claire reported recently.)

“George knows that, like his Papa, he will one day be king,” Nicholl says.

The Sunday Times’ royal editor Roya Nikkhah told True Royalty TV’s “The Royal Beat” that William and Kate want George’s role in the Coronation to be “quite low key,” as the couple are “very conscious that he will return to school on the Tuesday [after the Coronation], and they do not want him to be overwhelmed by the attention. But he may play a smaller official role.”

George won’t be the only one with a role in the Coronation—both Charlotte and Louis will have a role, as well, though likely not as large or substantial as their big brother. All three Wales children will ride in the carriage procession from Westminster Abbey to Buckingham Palace alongside their parents, directly behind the Gold State Coach carrying King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla. Once at the Palace, the Wales family of five will all take to the balcony, much as they did for the Platinum Jubilee last June, where all three kids were in the carriage procession for Trooping the Colour and then appeared on the balcony afterwards.

Louis’ inclusion in the Coronation is particularly significant, according to The Mirror. Royal expert Angela Mollard says this is an effort to make Louis feel included and not left out, and to avoid any rifts between the siblings. “George needs to be braced and supported by his siblings,” Mollard says. “The whole brand of the Waleses is very much ‘We’re a family, we do it all together. We do not want an offshoot like Harry in the future.’” She continues “It’s going to make sure that Louis has a memory of the Coronation, so when his big brother takes on that role, he and Charlotte are there to support him.”

Though William and Kate seem keen to keep George, Charlotte, and Louis on as even a playing field as possible, the reality is “George’s royal destiny is set in stone. Charlotte’s is more flexible,” as is Louis’. Whereas in previous generations Louis would have leapfrogged his older sister to place right behind George in the line of succession—think Prince Andrew, the third born of Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth, jumping over older sister Princess Anne in the line of succession behind Charles—that is no more, and Charlotte is the direct “spare” behind George. Though Charlotte could carve out a life outside of the royal family, many claim she is poised to become a successful working royal.

Royal author Tom Quinn “likened Charlotte’s seemingly grounded and self-assured personality to that of her great-aunt Princess Anne, saying the seven-year-old may play a role similar to the one Anne is playing for the Crown and the King, as well as possibly assuming her ‘Princess Royal’ title,” The Daily Express reports.

“Princess Anne has never really struggled,” Quinn says. “She’s famously quite supportive of Charles. And she is kind of a tougher character than Charles, because I think she has always known she wouldn’t become the monarch, whereas Charles [growing up] was under that pressure. And I think something similar will happen in the younger generation, too.” Quinn says there’s “definitely a parallel” between Anne—who, as a working royal, consistently undertakes the most engagements year after year—and Charlotte, adding Charlotte seemed “more sure of herself, more centered, more grounded [than George],” concluding that Charlotte will be a “really good” support for her elder brother.

Louis, Quinn says, as the “double spare,” risks feeling like a “lost soul.”

“Like all royal children, he will quickly become aware that he has a life of luxury, but he can’t really escape it and have an ordinary life, but he’s also not the number one,” Quinn says. “He’s not going to be, or it’s very unlikely, that he’d ever become the monarch.”

But, Quinn says, William and Kate have learned from the past and will take steps to ensure that Louis won’t fall into the trap of “lost spares” that have come before him: “I think because the royal family is now so aware of the mistakes that they’ve made in the past, especially with bringing up children, I think they will make enormous efforts to make sure that Louis doesn’t feel like a lost soul,” Quinn says. “And I think it will be easier for Kate and William to ensure that happens, partly because the world has changed so much. Even since William and Harry were young, the world’s changed a great deal.”

William and Kate attempt to give their three children as normal a life as possible, even moving to Adelaide Cottage at Windsor from their apartment at Kensington Palace in London last year in a decision that was very much led by the kids. The Prince and Princess of Wales want to break the cycle of the heir and spare dynamic for their children, says royal expert Kinsey Schofield.

“There’s this heir and spare dynamic that we have been talking about for the last few years, in which the spare typically is so completely lost, and they fall into trouble,” she says, citing Princess Margaret (Her late Majesty’s younger sister), Andrew, and Harry. “I don’t think that it’s going to happen to Prince William’s children. I believe this is where they’re going to break the cycle. I think they’re going to stop with the spare talk, and I think the ‘necessity’ for a spare ends now.”

While Schofield thinks Charlotte and Louis could find careers they’re passionate about and not serve as working members of the royal family—Margaret was a working royal, as were all four of the Queen’s children, and as was Harry before his step back in 2020—others think that the trio could run the monarchy of the future as a collective force. We see more and more—as Louis gets older, especially—that it’s all three of them, not just George, attending events like the Platinum Jubilee or the upcoming Coronation. Louis—who is three years younger than Charlotte—has been deemed too young to attend some royal events, so it has typically been George and Charlotte as a duo, with George rarely attending royal events without her. Now, as Louis is nearing turning five years old, it’s the three as a unit.

“A more collective approach could be quite popular,” says royal author Pauline Maclaran. “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. Of course, constitutionally, they cannot all be kings and queens, but I can see clearer roles for the three Wales children being thought out.”

Rachel Burchfield
Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor

Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.