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Line Of Succession 1701-present
Up until the late 1600s the line of succession was not properly defined, although normally a monarch was succeeded by their eldest surviving son. In 1688 James II of the House of Stuart was deemed by parliament to have abdicated and the Bill of Rights Act 1689 was passed making James’ eldest daughter Mary and his nephew William of Orange, Mary’s husband, joint sovereigns as Mary II and William III respectively, thus also bypassing the claim of James’ newborn son James, known thereafter to history as the Old Pretender. The Bill of Rights also barred papists and those who marry papists from succeeding to the throne. What it didn’t do was define exactly who was in line to the throne after William, Mary, their issue (they had none), Mary’s sister Anne and her issue.
By late 1700 Mary II had died childless, William III was ailing and Mary’s sister, Anne, was the only other remaining heir. Unfortunately none of Anne’s 20 children had survived to adulthood, the last of whom, William, Duke of Gloucester had died aged just 11 years old on 30th July 1700. Clearly parliament needed to do something to secure the succession.
The Act Of Succession 1701 defined the succession as HM William III for life, then his cousin, Mary’s sister, Anne of Denmark (the future Queen Anne), then Anne’s descendants (already extinct), then William’s descendants (he had none) then, failing all the above, the throne went to the next protestant in line to the throne and their protestant issue, this was identified as Sophia, Electress and Duchess Dowager of Hannover, the youngest daughter of Elizabeth, Queen of Bohemia, herself the eldest daughter of James I & VI.
The first line of succession was thus:
HM King William III,
1. Anne of Denmark (b1665)
William III died on 8th March 1702.
Page Last Updated - 08/09/2022