How the Queen ensured things would be different for Princess Charlotte compared to fellow ‘spare’ Princess Anne

Princess Anne and Princess Charlotte have both been royal 'spares' but their situations couldn't be more different thanks to the Queen

Queen ensured things would be different for Princess Charlotte compared to Princess Anne, both seen here
(Image credit: Future// Image 1: Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage via Getty// Image 2: Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

The Queen ensured things would be different for Princess Charlotte compared to fellow so-called royal “spare” Princess Anne.  


The moment the title of Prince Harry’s memoir, Spare, was announced, attention was brought to the concept of an “heir and a spare”. The terms is sometimes used to refer to the older child in line to inherit the throne and their younger sibling and Prince Harry’s heartbreaking inspiration for the title  was mentioned in the book. It’s previously been suggested that Princess Diana tried to “protect” him from being labeled the “spare” and he’s not the only one to be in this position of comparison. Princess Anne was “spare” to King Charles and seven-year-old Princess Charlotte could be seen as one to future monarch, Prince George. 

Though thanks to the late Queen, growing up as “spare” has been a very different experience for the two royals. Unlike her great-aunt, Princess Charlotte will never be displaced from this role and will retain a high place in the line of succession for many years to come. 

Members of the Royal Family on the Buckingham Palace balcony

(Image credit: Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

Despite being the second-born of the late Queen’s children, Princess Anne is only 16th in the royal line of succession and was a “spare” for a limited time. Prince Andrew was born the year the Princess Royal turned 10 and jumped ahead of her in line to the throne, becoming a “spare”. 

This is because at the time the system of male primogeniture was in place, which meant a younger son could displace an elder daughter. By the time Princess Charlotte was born, however, things had radically changed - and the Queen gave it her personal seal of approval. 

The Queen gave Royal Assent to the Succession to the Crown Act 2013 after it was put forward. This amended things so that this displacement would no longer happen and applies to any royals born after October 28, 2011.

Prince George, Prince Louis and Princess Charlotte in a carriage procession

(Image credit: Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage via Getty)

As a result, Princess Charlotte remains ahead of her younger brother Prince Louis in the succession and any future children she might have will also be ahead of his future children. The Queen’s decision to give her assent to the 2013 law meant that things are likely very different for Princess Charlotte in terms of her life as a “spare” compared to Princess Anne. 

Though whilst their positions might be different, it’s thought possible that one day Princess Anne’s rare royal title of Princess Royal could be passed on to her great-niece. She has also been found consistently to be the most hard-working royal in recent years and is perhaps a wonderful role model for Princess Charlotte. 

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Princess Anne, Princess Royal attend a reception after presenting the Queen's Anniversary Prizes

(Image credit: Photo by Kirsty O'Connor - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Princess Anne has showcased the types of responsibilities that can be held by the sister of a King and the dedication it takes. And this commitment is something she previously revealed was inspired by the Queen and Prince Philip.

“It’s not just about, Can I get a tick in the box for doing this?” the Princess explained to Vanity Fair (opens in new tab) in 2020 when discussing her role. “No, it’s about serving…. It comes from an example from both my parents’ way of working and where they saw their role being,”

Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Senior Lifestyle Writer with six years of experience working in digital publishing. Her specialist areas including literature, the British Royal Family and knowing all there is to know about the latest TV shows on the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and every streaming service out there. When she’s not writing about the next unmissable show to add to your to-watch list or delving into royal protocol, you can find Emma cooking and watching yet more crime dramas.