Prince William’s second child, due later this month, will be born fourth in line to the British throne, which can prove a tricky place to be.
Whoever is fourth in the line of succession bears the burdens of being close to the throne, but without a specific individual role to fulfil.
The position of fourth in line has changed hands since the last person to be born thus – prince William of Gloucester, who died in a plane accident and after whom William was named.
The last person to inherit the throne after being fourth in line was the Queen’s father, George VI, who was born in the position in 1895 behind his grandfather and future king Edward VII, his father George V, and brother Edward VIII. Births, deaths and Edward VIII’s abdication in 1936 have nudged senior royals up and down the list.
The Queen’s late sister Princess Margaret and their uncle prince Henry had repeated turns in the position.
Through twists of fortune, some stay high in the royal ranks, while others slide ever further down the order.
“It’s very unlikely that this new baby will reign,” Robert Jobson, a royal commentator, said.
After William married Kate in 2011, new royal succession laws, ending male primogeniture, were hurriedly agreed by prime ministers from the 16 Commonwealth realms, including Britain, Australia and Canada, to avoid the potential scenario of a male second child overtaking a female first-born in the line of succession and keeping her from one day inheriting the throne.
However, the situation was averted by William’s first-born being a boy.