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  Members of the Royal Family
Updated 04 April 2002, 16.51

Citizenship 11-14/KS3/Levels E&F
Central government

The Queen Mother's funeral gathered the Royal Family together. Understanding how they are related can be confusing.

Form the Royal Family tree. This activity requires cleared floor-space and string.

Learning aims

  • How succession to the throne works
  • What a family tree is
  • Some senior members of the Royal Family
1) Icebreaker
Read the story

In line to the throne
Ask students if they know who would take over if the Queen died? If Prince Charles died?

How far down the list can they go?

  • 1. Prince Charles (1948)
  • 2. Prince William (1982)
  • 3. Prince Harry (1984)
  • 4. Prince Andrew (1960)
  • 5. Princess Beatrice (1988)
  • 6. Princess Eugenie (1990)
  • 7. Prince Edward (1964)
  • 8. Princess Anne (1950)
  • 9. Peter Phillips, son of Princess Anne (1977)
  • 10. Zara Phillips, daughter of Princess Anne (1981)
  • 11 Viscount Linley, son of Princess Margaret (1961)
  • 12. Charles Armstrong Jones, Viscount Linley's son (1999)
  • 13. Lady Sarah Chatto, daughter of Princess Margaret (1964)
  • 14. Samuel Chatto, Princess Margaret's grandson (1996)

    (Year of birth in brackets)

Line of succession
Explain that this is called the line of succession to the throne. It has four points that may need explaining to students. It is best to form a physical queue of students to help demonstrate point [2]

[1] The eldest son inherits
The eldest son gets the throne, and passes it to his eldest son.

[2] It is not in order of how old you are
Prince William is younger than many people behind him in the line to the throne. He is ahead of them because his dad, Prince Charles, was ahead of them.


Imagine the line as a queue. If someone in the queue has a child the child is not sent to the back of the line. Instead they stand directly behind their dad or older brothers.

[3] Gender is important
The role of monarch is passed to sons. You only pass it to your daughter if you don't have a son. Princess Anne is the Queen's second oldest child but she is only number eight in line to the throne.

[4] Religion is important
There are three people who would have been in the top 30 who are excluded. They have either become a Roman Catholic or married Roman Catholics. The monarch is head of the Church of England and so must be a member of that church (see background).

2) Main activity

How are the top Royals related.
The abstract concept of a family tree is best explained by physically representing it. Use students as the Royals. This will mean moving desks aside, or going into the hall. You will need a ball of string or sticky tape/toilet roll.

[A] What is a family tree?
Demonstrate the concept by drawing your own family tree on a board. Start with your grandmother at the top and work down the board. Add fictitious and amusing characters to produce a memorable tree.

[B] Assign the Royal identities
Break the class into groups of 15. Print the list

.Cut the list into strips and give out one identity to each student.

[C] Form a Royal Family tree
Can they stand in the correct places to form a family tree? Start with the Queen Mother. Use string to form the branches. Give as much support as is necessary.

3) Extension activity
The groups make a poster of the tree by sticking their labels to a large piece of paper.

4) Plenary
Return to the concept of succession. Would students like to see any changes to the way it works?

How do students imagine the rules of succession came to be the way they are?

Teachers' Background

  • When a sovereign dies, or abdicates, a successor is immediately decided according to rules laid down as the Act of Settlement of 1701.

  • Britain recently adopted the European Human Rights Convention as part of British law. It has been argued that the discrimination against women, Roman Catholics and those born out of wedlock means that the rules of succession are now illegal.

  • The Earl of St. Andrews would be number 21 in line to the throne. However he excluded himself from succession by marrying a Roman Catholic.

  • The Monarchy is the oldest institution of government in the United Kingdom. Until 1603 the English and Scottish Crowns were separate

  • From the end of the 17th century Britain's monarchs lost executive power. They increasingly became subject to Parliament. This resulted in today's constitutional Monarchy.

  • The Treason Felony Act of 1848 forbids the publication of incitements to republicanism. It states that anyone calling for the Queen's downfall should be deported for life.

Turn this into an assembly
  • Form a queue and demonstrate the line of succession onstage. Explain the rules and why they may need changing.

For all links and resources click at top right.

Queen Mother's life in videoQueen Mother's life in video

More InfoBORDER=0
TeachersWorksheet: Royal Family tree
UKThe funeral plans: what happens when?
UKSchools may mark funeral
PicturesPictures: The line of Royal Succession
PicturesPix: the public mourn
Find OutWhat does the Queen do?


Web Links
The British Monarchy
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