Is Prince Harry Still In Line For The British Royal Throne?

It's been a hot minute since Prince Harry distanced himself from the Royal Family, stepping back as a senior royal in 2020 with his wife, Meghan Markle, in tow. Four years later, he confirmed that he is officially a U.S. resident and is even toying with the idea of becoming a U.S. citizen. But even if this is the case, Harry is still a prince at the end of the day, and unless the U.K. parliament intervenes, the fact remains that he has a theoretical shot at the British throne.

However, the Duke of Sussex has rarely entertained the notion of becoming king. He has always seen himself as the "spare," a role so ingrained in his identity that it became the title of his tell-all book. In his memoir that enraged the public, he revealed that his family slapped that label on him from the get-go. "This [spare] was shorthand often used by Pa and Mummy and Grandpa. And even Granny. The Heir and the Spare — there was no judgment about it, but also no ambiguity," he wrote. "I was the shadow, the support, the Plan B. I was brought into the world in case something happened to Willy... This was all made explicitly clear to me from the start of life's journey and regularly reinforced thereafter."

But despite his departure from royal life and several relatives preceding him in the line of succession, Harry's place in the sequence remains secure unless he's formally stripped of his titles — a move his family can't execute on their own.

Prince Harry is fifth in line to the throne

As it stands, Prince Harry is fifth in line to the British throne. It's indicated right on the Royal Family website that he's just behind his brother, Prince William, and William's children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis. Following Harry in the royal pecking order are his own kids, Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet. This means that yes, Harry could still wind up as king.

But let's not hold our breath. For Harry to ascend to the throne, a rather grim series of events would need to unfold: both King Charles and Prince William would need to be out of the picture, and none of his nieces or nephews could step up due to death, incapacitation, or abdication. Clearly, we're talking about a worst-case scenario that not even Harry would want to entertain.

Alternatively, Harry could also be king regent, but this can only happen if his father and brother become "permanently incapacitated" while all three of his nieces and nephews are still underage. "That's the law," constitutional expert Professor Robert Hazell explained to The Guardian. "Legally the Regency Acts are quite clear. And if for any reason either the palace or government didn't want Harry to be regent, they would need to legislate." However, there's a catch: Harry would need to ditch America and stay domiciled in the U.K. to be eligible. If he wanted to wear the crown, even temporarily, he'd need to return to British soil — the very place he ran away from.

Does Prince Harry even want to be king in the first place?

Prince Harry, while still in line for the throne, has never seemed particularly eager for the role. Perhaps that explains why he was quite the rebellious royal in his younger years, as evidenced by his infamous night out in Vegas when he was pictured butt naked. "You'll be King, I won't; so I can do what I want!" he apparently told Prince William when they were kids, according to royal correspondent Marcia Moody, per The Mirror.

As his place in the succession was progressively bumped down with each arrival of a niece or nephew, Prince Harry admitted to feeling more relieved than bitter. "I was delighted for Willy and Kate, and I was indifferent to my place in the order of succession," he penned in "Spare," adding that he was offended when the media pressed him about it. "I thought: First of all, it's a good thing to be farther from the center of a volcano," he noted. "Second, what kind of monster would think of himself and his place in the line of succession at such a time, rather than welcoming a new life into the world?"

And it turns out that Harry's not the only one reluctant to take the throne. He once revealed to Newsweek that nobody in the Royal Family is exactly itching to don the crown. "Is there any one of the Royal Family who wants to be king or queen? I don't think so," he said.