Why can’t Princess Anne be Queen?

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In the intricate tapestry of the British monarchy, the line of succession has witnessed a multitude of historical events and transformations. While the notion of a monarchy evolving and adapting with the times may seem feasible, there are certain constraints that prevent Princess Anne, the esteemed daughter of Queen Elizabeth II, from assuming the mantle of the crown. This article embarks on a captivating exploration, delving into the intricate web of constitutional principles, traditional norms, and legal provisions that define the monarchy and explain why Princess Anne cannot ascend to the revered position of Queen. Join us on this journey of discovery as we unravel the fascinating complexities surrounding this enigmatic topic.

Why can't Princess Anne be Queen?

The Principle of Primogeniture: A Stalwart in Succession

The British monarchy, steeped in rich history, has long embraced the principle of primogeniture as a steadfast guiding force in determining the line of succession. This tradition, rooted in medieval times, dictates that the eldest son of the reigning monarch shall be the rightful heir to the throne, irrespective of the birth order of any daughters in the royal family. This principle has been a pillar of stability in the monarchy, providing continuity and a clear line of succession.

However, it is important to note that the British monarchy has undergone substantial transformations in recent decades, with significant advancements in gender equality. The implementation of the Succession to the Crown Act in 2013 heralded a new era by allowing the first-born child of the reigning monarch to inherit the throne, regardless of gender. This momentous change marked a departure from the rigid confines of the primogeniture principle and paved the way for gender equality within the line of succession. While this shift was monumental, it still does not extend to retroactively alter the line of succession for individuals who were born prior to the enactment of the act. Hence, Princess Anne, as the second-born child of Queen Elizabeth II, remains unable to ascend to the throne despite her notable contributions and commendable service.

The Historical Significance of Male-Preferred Succession

To comprehend the intricate dynamics of Princess Anne’s ineligibility to become Queen, one must delve into the historical context that has shaped the British monarchy. For centuries, the male-preferred succession has been deeply entrenched in British society, influenced by societal norms and the prevailing beliefs of the time. This preference for male heirs was not limited to the monarchy but permeated various facets of society, reflecting the prevailing gender bias.

The roots of male-preferred succession can be traced back to the Act of Settlement in 1701, a pivotal legal provision that stipulated the exclusion of Catholics from ascending to the British throne. The act also introduced the principle of male-preferred primogeniture, which prioritized male heirs over their female counterparts. While the Act of Settlement has been amended and reformed over the years, the underlying sentiment of male preference has persisted, albeit in a modified form.

It is worth noting that the British monarchy has made significant strides in embracing gender equality, as evidenced by the aforementioned Succession to the Crown Act of 2013. This progressive legislation seeks to address historical biases and align the line of succession with contemporary societal values. Nonetheless, due to the complexities of constitutional law and the need for gradual change, Princess Anne finds herself unable to break free from the shackles of historical precedence and assume the throne.

The Role of Consorts and Consort Titles

An essential aspect of understanding the limitations on Princess Anne’s path to the throne lies in comprehending the role of consorts and the associated titles bestowed upon them. Historically, the spouse of the reigning monarch has been referred to as the consort and has held a position of significant influence and responsibility. However, the title of consort does not inherently grant the individual the status of a monarch.

In the case of Princess Anne, her husband, Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence, holds no royal title and does not possess the status of a prince consort. This distinction is crucial because, traditionally, the spouse of a queen regnant assumes the title of king consort, as was the case with Queen Mary I and her husband, King Philip II of Spain. However, the title of queen consort does not automatically extend to the husband of a reigning queen. This convention aligns with the historical gender roles assigned within the monarchy, where a king’s wife assumes the title of queen, but a queen’s husband does not become king.

Consequently, while Princess Anne’s husband supports her in her royal duties and engagements, he does not have a constitutional role in the monarchy that would enable Princess Anne to ascend to the throne through marriage. The absence of a prince consort title for Sir Timothy Laurence further solidifies Princess Anne’s inability to assume the position of Queen.

The Influence of Precedent and Tradition

The British monarchy is steeped in a rich tapestry of precedent and tradition that shapes its dynamics and functioning. Throughout history, certain conventions and practices have become deeply ingrained, and deviating from them requires careful consideration and a thorough understanding of the constitutional framework.

One significant tradition is the understanding that the British monarch is a hereditary position passed down through generations. This means that the line of succession follows a specific pattern, adhering to the principles and customs that have governed the monarchy for centuries. While the monarchy has evolved and adapted over time, the core traditions remain intact.

Princess Anne’s inability to become Queen can be attributed, in part, to the weight of tradition and precedent. The established order of succession, which prioritizes the male heirs and maintains the primacy of the direct line of descent, has been maintained for generations. Deviating from this order would require a fundamental reimagining of the monarchy’s structure and traditions, which, in turn, would necessitate significant changes to constitutional law and societal perceptions.


The complexities surrounding Princess Anne’s ineligibility to ascend to the throne are deeply rooted in historical norms, constitutional principles, and the evolution of the British monarchy. The principles of primogeniture, male-preferred succession, the role of consorts, and the influence of precedent and tradition all play a significant role in shaping the line of succession and determining who can become the reigning monarch.

While Princess Anne’s contributions to public service and dedication to her royal duties are commendable, the constraints imposed by these factors prevent her from assuming the position of Queen. The British monarchy continues to evolve, as evidenced by the reforms introduced in recent years, but changes to the line of succession require careful consideration and broader societal consensus.

As we navigate the intricacies of the British monarchy, it is essential to appreciate the historical significance, legal complexities, and cultural influences that shape its dynamics. The exploration of Princess Anne’s inability to become Queen unveils a fascinating glimpse into the timeless traditions and intricate workings of one of the world’s most enduring institutions.

Why can’t Princess Anne be Queen?
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