A third royal baby is on the way for Kate Middleton and Prince William. Apart from the obvious delight and excitement of both their families and the public, the birth of the third child of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge could potentially have significance in history, especially if the baby is male.

This is because the old rule of male primogeniture in terms of succession to the British throne had been changed in 2013 thus giving a female member of the royal family equality with that of a male member on the matter of royal succession to the throne.

Line of succession

What the new rule simply means is that Princess Charlotte, who is currently 4th in line to the British royal succession will remain in that position even if her mother gives birth to a younger brother. In the old rule, Kate and William’s daughter would go down to 5th in line to the throne should the baby turns out to be a boy.

Historical significance

The birth of Prince George in 2013 did not have much relevance on the new rule since either way; he eventually inherits the throne after his father Prince William by being the first born and male.

The new rule, however, would find relevance on Princess Charlotte’s position in the line of succession since regardless of the sex of her younger sibling, she will remain 4th in line to the British Throne.

So, if it’s going to be a younger brother to Prince George and Princess Charlotte, it will be historically significant as the first actual application of the new rule to the British royal family.

Succession to the Crown Act

The British Parliament passed the Succession to the Crown Act last 2013, but the law took effect only in 2015 since all other nations where the Queen is considered the head of state must also pass related legislations.

There are currently 16 nations in which Queen Elizabeth II is considered the monarch.

During the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Australia in 2011, member nations unanimously agreed in principle to scrap centuries old rules related to royal succession by passing new laws on the matter.

The United Kingdom passed its Succession to the Crown Act in 2013 while Commonwealth nations including Australia, Barbados, Canada, the Grenadines, New Zealand, St Kitts and Nevis and St Vincent passed their counterpart laws as well.

Other Commonwealth members, which include Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Belize, Grenada, Jamaica, Papua New Guinea, St Lucia, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu saw no need to pass their legislations on royal succession. Thus in 2015, the rule has become effective.