Query re. British royal succession

Is there a formal protocol govering a situation where Kate ‘n’ Wills have a profoundly disabled child who would be first in line for the British crown?

e.g. Severe brain damage at birth or similar.

Is there a sliding scale to this? Would a Downs child be able to take the throne, or a low-, medium-, or high-functioning autistic person?

I guess the latter is a trickier question (some of our best leaders arguably have mental ability at one end or other of the bell curve), but who makes the decision in the event that the first in line is mentally incapable of ruling effectively (if indeed there is such a status).

Churchill had deep depression, and George III was famously out of his gourd, but we are perhaps more likely to assess “ecentricity” as mental illness these days.

There are precedents where the King could not rule.

George III – his son was name Regent
Henry VI – his son was a minor, so they set up a governing council until the son reached majority; Henry came to his senses before that. His uncle Richard of York was a part of it.
Edward III – he just lost interest in governing after the death of his son Edward. The heir, later Richard II, was too young to rule, so Edward’s son John of Gaunt ran the country.

In general, a regent can be appointed until the king is able to rule. I would think that these days Parliament would make the determination, based upon whether the king/queen would be able to fulfill the functions of office.

The regent would be whatever adult that was next in line for the throne. In the case you mention, then Prince William would be the most likely Regent.

William is never going to be Regent for his own child…

I suspect Chuck misspoke himself, and meant to say that Prince Harry would be regent for Wills’s (disabled) child, his nephew (or neice).

Also note ever since they shortened Charles I, the British monarch is whoever Parliament says it is. If someone is unsuitable, like, say, Edward VIII, they can order him to step aside and choose someone else to be national mascot.

Ah right, yes, that seems likely.

Well, obviously, one has to have SOME ability in order to be a good leader. What makes it interesting is when people have some sort of disability.

It’s covered by the Regency Act 1937. If the monarch is under 18 or is declared to be incapacitated in writing by three of the following officials (the monarch’s consort, the Speaker, the Lord Chancellor, the Chief Justice of England and the Master of the Rolls), then the person who is next in the line of succession and over 18 becomes Regent, able to exercise the powers of the Crown.

So if Her Majesty were to have a stroke that incapacitated her, she could be so declared and Prince Charles could act as Regent.

If the example of the OP came up, for instance, Wills comes to the throne, his heir has Down syndrome and Wills dies, then Harry would be Regent.

But to speculate further, if Wills has two children and the heir has Downs but not the second child, then once the second child turns 18, the second child would replace Harry as Regent, since the second child would be next in succession, not Harry.

So Harry would be Regent-Once-Removed until the real Regent was old enough?

And if harry becomes incapacitated… :slight_smile:

There’s “always” a next in line to the throne. This page gives 47. I’m sure the list is longer. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Line_of_succession_to_the_British_throne

Something likle this happened in Bavaria. The King was insane; his uncle was Regent. But Uncle Regent became senile, so his son became Regent for, first, the mad king, then on his death, for his own father who was next in line. He finally got the throne for himself, just in time to be thrown out by the Treaty of Versailles.

No, Harry would be the Regent, because he would be the closest in line who was over 18. Then, when Wills’ second child turned 18 he/she would replace Harry, as the closest in line who was over 18.

also dealt with by the Regency Act: the same group are authorised to declare that the Regent is incapacitated, in which case that person ceases to be Regent and the next in line who is over 18 becomes Regent.

In that case, wouldn’t the second child just be made King when he turns 18? Is there not some amount of “wiggle room” in the succession rules (with Parliament having the final say), to allow irregular successions in cases like this?

No - one of the limitations on the Regent’s powers is that the Regent cannot give Royal Assent to any bill that changes the line of succession.

Except these days it’s not just the British Parliament involved; the parliaments of each of the 16 realms that share the monarchy would all have to approve any change.

I believe that if other parliaments didn’t consent, that would just mean the different realms would have different monarchs. That would be awkward, and I suppose unlikely to be done, but within the law.

What if Prince Harry kills the second kid when he turns 18. Does he stay regent?

So regents don’t get to offer their assent (or dissent either, presumably) for such bills, but regular monarchs do? Or am I misunderstanding?

I can see the rationale for that rule, although I’d have thought it would apply to whomever is on the throne.

Can the Regent give Royal Assent to a bill that changes the powers of the Regent?