Prince Charles will be the next king of England and the United Kingdom. Prince William will follow him on the throne. Tabloids making any other claim are wrong. It's an enduring false narrative that is recycled over and over by the more disreputable outlets in the gossip industry. Gossip Cop has debunked bogus stories related to it nearly two dozen times since 2017, often the same publications over and over.
The tabloids are counting on readers, especially American readers, not understanding the rules and laws — yes, laws — of succession in the United Kingdom. This isn't Game of Thrones; there are specific laws that dictate how this works. Most notably, Queen Elizabeth II has no say whatsoever in who becomes the next monarch. If you read a headline like "Queen Naming William and Kate The Next King and Queen!", you can be sure the story is total nonsense.
The only way Prince Charles is not the next king is if he dies before his mother, Queen Elizabeth. Prince William, as the eldest son of Prince Charles will succeed him unless there is an untimely death. There are specific laws, set forth by the UK Parliament, that rule the line of succession. It's Parliament, not the queen, that has the sole ability to change these laws. The monarch does not enjoy divine authority, absolute authority, or, most importantly, legal authority. The Queen (or future King) of Great Britain has no legal power at all.
That's not what the dishonest tabloids want readers to believe, unfortunately. These publications cram your supermarket magazine racks with outright falsehoods. For example, Prince Charles and Prince William have never been "fighting for the throne" as the National Enquirer proclaimed on its cover in January 2020.
Like so many of these phony reports, this one was filled with quotes from what the tabloid describes as a "palace insider." Gossip Cop can tell you, if you read those words, stop because everything that follows is likely fiction. Any true "palace insider" would certainly understand the laws relating to succession. So if a "palace insider" says something like "Charles knows his mother wants to bypass him and make William the next king, but he is fighting tooth and nail," like a so-called "high-level palace courtier" supposedly said here, the source is almost certainly made up.
Without getting too deep into British history, the basics are this. The Bill Of Rights Act of 1689, passed in the years after the English Civil War and the Restoration in 1660, set forth the basic rights of Parliament's authority over the crown, and succession is directly addressed. In 1701, the line was further defined with the Act of Settlement. This parliamentary law determined that only a protestant could rule the realm. That law was modified further in the 21st century to open succession up to someone of any religion and any gender, so long as they are the oldest living child.
Another important recent law is the Perth Accord, which sets forth that male children do not take precedence over females; if the female heir is oldest, she would be next in line. For the time being, this isn't relevant, as the next three in line for the throne are all men: Prince Charles, Prince William, and his oldest son, Prince George. It's quite possible that there won't be another queen of the United Kingdom until the 22nd century.
With all that explained, you might be wondering why outlets are still making up claims. The answer is simple: These made-up stories sell papers. That previous story quotes a supposed "palace source", as saying, "The Queen has decided to step in and make the decision that William will be king," She didn't, because she can't because... refer to the above paragraph.
There are literally dozens of examples of tabloids inventing stories like this. In December 2019, one month before the "bitter war for the throne," Gossip Cop busted another piece by the National Enquirer claiming that Queen Elizabeth was naming Prince William as king in order to "save the monarchy" in the wake of the Prince Andrew scandal. One week later, the Enquirer's sister publication, In Touch, published a phony report alleging Prince William and Kate Middleton were named the next king and queen and were planning a $1 billion coronation.
As Gossip Cop pointed out when we debunked that story, the very same publication had made almost the exact same claim one year early when it falsely reported the palace had announced a $500 million coronation to make Prince William and Middleton king and queen. Amazingly, after digging deep into the Gossip Cop archives, we found a remarkably similar story from 2015 published by OK! That bogus story contents it would be a $1 billion coronation. It's almost as if these unreliable magazines are just making the numbers up! They've been coming up with baseless claims for years, in fact.
Sometimes, these nonsensical stories revolve around Kate Middleton being named queen, which can also be a little confusing for American readers — something else these disreputable outlets count on. To clear up the whole queen thing: When there is a King of the United Kingdom, usually his wife's title is "queen." For example, Queen Elizabeth's mother, also named Elizabeth, was Queen Elizabeth while her husband, George VI, was king. When William eventually becomes king, Kate Middleton will almost certainly be Queen Catherine.
There is one exception here. When Prince Charles married Camila Parker Bowles, who is the Prince Of Wales' second wife, it was agreed that she would not have the title "queen." She remained the Duchess of Cornwall, which is still her current title. Additionally, Queen Elizabeth's husband, Prince Philip, does not carry the title "king" because a ruling monarch's husband cannot be a king. Confused yet? It's safe to say some traditions are a little difficult to follow. Basically, a king can have a queen, but a queen cannot have a king.
Prince William is currently second in line for the throne. Barring some unforeseen event, he will succeed his father as the king. After Prince William will be his oldest, Prince George. Prince William won't be king before Prince Charles, and he won't leapfrog the line nor will the queen name him king. He wasn't named king in 2017, as New Idea falsely claimed that November, nor did he have a Christmas Coronation as the tabloid wrongly predicted. Prince William didn't "seize" the throne from his father last May, as the Enquirer alleged. Prince Charles also cannot "seize" the throne from his mother, even as she gets older and even if she is in ill-health (which is not, by the way.) An incorrect story the Globe in October asserted that he could.
One of the more bizarre claims came just recently from Woman's Day. In early February, the often-wrong paper proclaimed on its cover, "Anne Takes The Crown". Inside the magazine, it claimed that Princess Anne, Prince Charles' sister, had been named the next monarch by Queen Elizabeth. Princess Anne, who is currently 14th in line for the throne, will never be named the next queen. The story was blatantly wrong.
Occasionally, unscrupulous tabloids attempt to trick readers with impossible narratives and bait-and-switch tactics — like when the aforementioned Woman's Day asserted on its cover that Queen Elizabeth had named Kate Middleton queen, as though she would be the ruling monarch. Obviously that never happened, nor could it. The accompanying story backed off the claim, but the intent of the headline was clear.
Yet another common version of this absurd premise includes the queen retiring. Don't expect that though. The queen has long maintained that she would rule for the entire length of her life. In one of her most famous speeches, then-Princess Elizabeth said on her 21st birthday in 1947:
"I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong."
There has never been any indication that she feels any differently now than she did over 70 years ago.
In February 2019, the often-incorrect National Enquirer alleged that Queen Elizabeth had "given up the throne" and named Prince William and Kate Middleton king and queen. That phony report upped the ante and also claimed the queen had "banished" Prince Charles from the UK. Did we mention that this isn't Game of Thrones? These storytellers from the Enquirer seem to get a lot of inspiration from fictional TV. They certainly don't have any interest in the truth.
The gossip media is either completely ignorant of the laws in the United Kingdom or willfully publishing false claims to sell papers. You decide for yourself. Just know that Gossip Cop will continue to call these publications out for their outright fabrications on this story. There will likely be many, many more.