7 things you didn't know about being a royal heir

As the next in line to inherit the crown, royal heirs are entitled to a number of privileges. However, until very recently, they have also been restricted by ancient traditions which have shaped the British monarchy's order of succession. Since the arrival of the newest heirs — Prince George and Princess Charlotte — many of these traditions have changed, but being next in line to the throne still comes with certain customs. Here are seven things you may not know about life as a royal heir.

1. They don't need a last name.

Any royal with the title "His Royal Highness Prince" or "Her Royal Highness Princess" doesn't need to use a surname at all. Before 1917, British royals used the name of the house or dynasty to which they belonged, but after this date, George V made a drastic change when he adopted Windsor as the surname of his family. In 1960, the Queen made another change when she decided that her children would use Mountbatten-Windsor to reflect Prince Philip's name. Unless Prince Charles chooses to alter this when he becomes king, he will continue to be of the House of Windsor and his grandchildren will use the surname Mountbatten-Windsor.

2. It used to be unheard of for royal heirs to go to school.

When Prince Charles enrolled at Hill House prep school in London, he was the first heir apparent not to have a private tutor. Charles and Diana continued to buck the trend by sending Princes William and Harry to the prestigious Wetherby prep school before their time at Eton. When Prince George starts his education this September, he will attend Thomas's, a private primary school in southwest London, rather than home school.

23 PHOTOS
Princess Charlotte: 2 Years in Photos
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Princess Charlotte: 2 Years in Photos
2017

Prince William and Duchess Kate release photo of Princess Charlotte a day before her 2nd birthday.

Reuters

2016

The Duchess of Cambridge and Princess Charlotte leave following the morning Christmas Day service at St Mark's Church in Englefield, Berkshire.

PA

2016

The Duchess of Cambridge and Princess Charlotte after a ceremony to mark their departure at Victoria Harbour seaplane terminal in Victoria during the Royal Tour of Canada in September 2016.

PA

2016

Princess Charlotte during the Royal Tour of Canada in September 2016.

PA

2016

Princess Charlotte at a children's party for Military families at Government House in Victoria during the Royal Tour of Canada in September 2016.

PA

2016

Princess Charlotte plays with a dog named Moose at a children's party at a children's party for Military families at Government House in Victoria during the Royal Tour of Canada in September 2016.

PA

2016

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge release photos of Princess Charlotte taken by the Duchess at Anmer Hall in Norfolk in April ahead of Charlotte's 1st birthday.

PA

2016

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge release photos of Princess Charlotte taken by the Duchess at Anmer Hall in Norfolk in April ahead of Charlotte's 1st birthday.

PA

2016

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge release photos of Princess Charlotte taken by the Duchess at Anmer Hall in Norfolk in April ahead of Charlotte's 1st birthday.

PA

2016

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge release photos of Princess Charlotte taken by the Duchess at Anmer Hall in Norfolk in April ahead of Charlotte's 1st birthday.

PA

2016

The Duke of Cambridge cuddles Princess Charlotte, as the Duke, Duchess and their family enjoy a short private break skiing in the French Alps in March 2016.

PA

2015

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge release photo of Princess Charlotte with her cuddly toy dog taken by the Duchess at Anmer Hall in Sandringham in 2015.

PA

2015

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge release photo of Princess Charlotte with her cuddly toy dog taken by the Duchess at Anmer Hall in Sandringham in 2015.

PA

2015

Princess Charlotte in her Silver Cross pram following her christening in July 2015.

PA

2015

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge release photo of Prince George and Princess Charlotte. The photograph was taken by the Duchess in mid-May 2015 at Anmer Hall in Norfolk.

PA

2015

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge release photo of Prince George and Princess Charlotte. The photograph was taken by the Duchess in mid-May 2015 at Anmer Hall in Norfolk.

PA

2015

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge release photo of Prince George and Princess Charlotte. The photograph was taken by the Duchess in mid-May 2015 at Anmer Hall in Norfolk.

PA

2015

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge release photo of Prince George and Princess Charlotte. The photograph was taken by the Duchess in mid-May 2015 at Anmer Hall in Norfolk.

PA

2015

Newborn Princess of Cambridge as she leaves the Lindo Wing of St Mary's Hospital in London in May 2015.

PA

2015

Princess of Cambridge is carried by The Duke of Cambridge in a baby car seat outside the Lindo Wing of St Mary's Hospital in London in May 2015.

PA

2015

Princess of Cambridge is carried by The Duke of Cambridge in a baby car seat outside the Lindo Wing of St Mary's Hospital in London in May 2015.

PA

2015

Princess of Cambridge in the arms of her mother the Duchess of Cambridge outside the Lindo Wing of St Mary's Hospital in London in May 2015.

PA

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3. Male heirs no longer take precedence over their sisters.

In 2013, legislation dating back to the 17th century was amended under the Succession to the Crown Act. This ground-breaking amendment declared that the order of succession now be determined by the order of birth, rather than gender. So, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's second child, Princess Charlotte, could one day wear the crown herself, particularly if her brother, Prince George, doesn't have children. Charlotte will remain fourth in line to the throne, ahead of her uncle Prince Harry, who is in fifth place, regardless of whether or not William and Kate go on to have another son.

4. The royal heir needs the Queen's permission to marry.

In 1772, King George II passed the Royal Marriages Act, stating that his descendants could not marry without the reigning monarch's consent. This law has overshadowed British royals in recent history, most notably when King Edward VIII had to abdicate the throne in order to marry the divorced Wallis Simpson. And despite the fact that Queen Elizabeth never formally prevented her sister Princess Margaret from marrying Captain Townsend, their marriage was never able to take place. Fortunately, the Succession to the Crown Act changed this so that only the first six in line to the throne will need the monarch's permission to marry. Since Prince Harry is in fifth place, this means he will still need to ask his grandmother's permission should he ever propose to his girlfriend Meghan Markle.

19 PHOTOS
Prince George on Royal Tour
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Prince George on Royal Tour
Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, his wife Catherine, The Duchess of Cambridge, Prince George and Princess Charlotte arrive at Tegel airport in Berlin, Germany, July 19, 2017. REUTERS/Kay Nietfeld/POOL
Prince George holds the hand of his father Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, upon their arrival at Tegel airport in Berlin, Germany, July 19, 2017. REUTERS/Steffi Loos/Pool
BERLIN, GERMANY - JULY 19: Prince George arrives at Berlin's Tegel Airport during an official visit to Poland and Germany on July 19, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
Prince George arrives at Tegel airport in Berlin, Germany, July 19, 2017. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, his wife Catherine, The Duchess of Cambridge, Prince George and Princess Charlotte arrive at Tegel airport in Berlin, Germany, July 19, 2017. REUTERS/Kay Nietfeld/POOL TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
BERLIN, GERMANY - JULY 19: Prince George arrives at Berlin's Tegel Airport during an official visit to Poland and Germany on July 19, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
BERLIN, GERMANY - JULY 19: Prince George of Cambridge during an official visit to Poland and Germany on July 19, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Isa Foltin/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - JULY 19: Prince George of Cambridge during an official visit to Poland and Germany on July 19, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Isa Foltin/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - JULY 19: Prince George of Cambridge during an official visit to Poland and Germany on July 19, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Isa Foltin/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - JULY 19: (NO UK SALES FOR 28 DAYS FROM CREATE DATE) Prince George of Cambridge arrives at Berlin military airport during an official visit to Poland and Germany on July 19, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Pool/Samir Hussein/WireImage)
BERLIN, GERMANY - JULY 19: (NO UK SALES FOR 28 DAYS FROM CREATE DATE) Prince George of Cambridge arrives at Berlin military airport during an official visit to Poland and Germany on July 19, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Pool/Samir Hussein/WireImage)
BERLIN, GERMANY - JULY 19: (NO UK SALES FOR 28 DAYS FROM CREATE DATE) Prince George of Cambridge arrives at Berlin military airport during an official visit to Poland and Germany on July 19, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Pool/Samir Hussein/WireImage)
BERLIN, GERMANY - JULY 19: (NO UK SALES FOR 28 DAYS FROM CREATE DATE) Prince George of Cambridge arrives at Berlin military airport during an official visit to Poland and Germany on July 19, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Pool/Samir Hussein/WireImage)
BERLIN, GERMANY - JULY 19: (NO UK SALES FOR 28 DAYS FROM CREATE DATE) Prince George of Cambridge arrives at Berlin military airport during an official visit to Poland and Germany on July 19, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Pool/Samir Hussein/WireImage)
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with Prince George and Princess Charlotte arriving at Berlin Airport in Germany.
Prince George after arriving at Berlin Airport in Germany.
The Duke of Cambridge and Prince George arrive at Warsaw Chopin airport, on day one of their five-day tour of Poland and Germany. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday July 17, 2017. See PA story ROYAL Cambridge. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Prince George at Warsaw's Chopin Airport with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Princess Charlotte at the start of their five-day tour of Poland and Germany.
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5. Prince William was the first future king to be born in a hospital.

Both he and his brother Prince Harry were born in the private Lindo Wing of St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, London, where the Duchess of Cambridge also gave birth. The Queen was born at a home belonging to her mother's parents in London's Mayfair and Prince Charles was born at Buckingham Palace.

6. The arrival of a royal heir is one of the few special occasions that is marked with a gun salute from British soldiers.

This can take place at either Hyde Park, Green Park, or the Tower of London, and a total of 62 rounds will be fired over 10 minutes. The custom is that gun salutes are fired for the birth of every prince or princess, no matter where their place is within the succession. The last royal salute for a royal birth was for Princess Charlotte in 2015.

7. It's almost impossible for an heir to renounce their right in the line of succession.

However, as Royal Central points out, the British Parliament does have a say in who succeeds the monarch under a doctrine known as 'Parliamentary supremacy'. "It is, therefore, not the Queen who determines who succeeds her but Parliament," the site explains, although this would inevitably cast doubt over the succession line altogether. Once reigning, a monarch can abdicate from the throne, as King Edward VIII did in 1936.

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