The Royal Family's family tree is shown below. The Queen and Prince Philip are the parents of four children. Charles is the Queen's eldest child and the immediate heir to the British Throne. Charles, 72, was born in 1948 and is the country's oldest and longest-serving heir apparent. He will be succeeded by his younger brother, William, who was born in 1982, as well as any other descendants that the Queen may have before she dies. The next in line is Andrew, 65, followed by Edward, 59, and Sophie, 57.
William and Catherine are both aged 58. They have two children under the age of 10 and another who was 9 when his mother died. Harry, 19, is expected to become King when his father dies or abdicates. He is the first monarch to be born after the end of World War II.
Charles was made Duke of Cornwall in 1952 and Prince of Wales in 1958. He also has many other titles including Earl of Chester, Greenwich, and Edinburgh.
He married Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1981. The couple had two sons and a daughter together. The princess died in 1997 when her car crashed into a tree in France. Since then, Charles has carried out an extensive program of medical examinations on members of the House of Windsor to determine whether they too might be killed in a future accident. So far, all tests come up negative.
Charles is the Queen's eldest child and the direct heir to the British Throne. Charles has had two marriages. His first marriage to Diana, Princess of Wales, ended in 1992. He then married Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, in 1996. He has four children: Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Prince George, Prince Harry.
William, 67, is the next in line to the British Throne. He and his wife Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, have three children: Prince Louis, Princess Eluwaia of Greece and Denmark, and Prince Talal of Jordan.
Louis, 59, is the next in line to the British Throne. He has two children with his wife Doria Ragland: Prince Vincent and Princess Isabella of Yugoslavia.
Vincent has no children. Isabella is married to Daniele Gori, a wealthy Italian industrialist. They have two children together: Lucia and Ema.
Ema has no children. Lucia is also without issue. Thus, if either of them were to die without leaving any descendants, then the line of succession would be broken and the monarchy would become extinct.
1. The Prince of Wales (71) He is Queen Elizabeth's and Prince Philip's eldest child, making him the heir apparent to the British throne. All of this indicates that Prince Charles is first in line of succession and will succeed when the Queen steps down as queen or dies.
2. The Duke of Cambridge (63) He is married to Catherine Middleton and they have three children. He plays cricket and rugby for England.
3. The Duchess of Cambridge (37) She was named after her grandmother, Princess Margaret. She has two sons with the Duke of Cambridge. She played tennis at university level and works as a charity leader.
4. The Prince of Tennis (7) He is the son of the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall. He lives in Japan with his parents and holds dual nationality with Japan.
5. The Princess of Tennis (5) She is the daughter of the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall.
6. The Lady Diana Spencer (2) She is the only child of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. She died in a car crash in Paris aged 29.
7. The Earl of Wessex (1) He is the youngest child of the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall.
The monarchy of the United Kingdom is hereditary. This means that the king or queen's position is passed down via the family. When Queen Elizabeth II dies, he will succeed to the throne. Prince William, the second in line to the throne, is Charles' first child (with Diana, Princess of Wales). The next in line is Prince Charles' son, Prince Andrew, followed by his daughter, Princess Anne.
In Europe only Sweden has a hereditary monarchy. Other countries with elected monarchs include France, Germany, and Spain. In addition, Australia has an elective monarchy while New Zealand has a parliamentary monarchy.
Almost from the time it was founded, the monarchy had a role to play in shaping Britain's identity. The kings and queens have been symbols of unity at times when Britain has needed them most - during world wars and economic depressions. They have also given dignity to less important roles - such as that of governor general of Canada or viceroy of India.
In recent years, the monarchy has been the target of angry protests from citizens who feel that they have no place in the government of what has become a very democratic society. In 1992, King George IV died without children. His grandson, Prince Charles, then aged 29, became heir to the throne. Many members of the public were disappointed that he was not going to be the first in the line to marry into another royal family.