The Duchess of Cambridge has given birth to a healthy baby boy at St Marys Hospital in London overnight.
He’s the third in line to the throne and if, all things going to plan, he does one day become King, he will have followed the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge to the throne, making him the third king in a row. Most of us are unlikely to ever see another queen in our lifetimes.
But if Princess Kate Middleton had delivered a girl, that baby too would have retained a right to be Britain’s monarch following a change of 300-year-old succession laws passed in Britain last year, no matter what gender a little brother or sister happened to be.
Finally, all’s fair when it comes to gender in the Royal family – to a point. While all Commonwealth countries have agreed to these succession changes, only three of the 15 countries where the Queen is the head of state outside of Britain have actually passed the laws. Australia has agreed to the succession changes, but is yet to enact them.
In the hours prior to the birth of the prince, Prime Minister David Cameron said these changes would be back-dated should a princess be born. Without this, in theory, a first born daughter could have become queen in the countries that had enacted the changes, and a potential younger brother king everywhere else.
Cameron told BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour that he’s proud to have done one small thing when it comes to birth order, which was to get all countries the Queen currently presides over to agree that no matter what the sex of the baby, if it’s a girl she will be Queen.
“Changing the succession is I think a big achievement, very important for our country and for all those realms over which our monarch governs,” he said.
“Everyone has agreed … that even if the legislation hasn’t gone through their parliament it will retrospectively apply to the child, so it’s pretty much a done deal.”
The new prince is Queen Elizabeth’s third great-grandchild and marks the first time in 120 years a still-serving monarch has met the direct third in line to the throne.