The seventh episode of The Crown season 4 is titled “The Hereditary Principle,” which on first look appears to be a reference to Princess Margaret’s (Helena Bonham Carter) discovery of her long-hidden cousins, Nerissa and Katherine Bowes-Lyon. The cousins had been born with extreme developmental issues and spent their grownup lives in a psychiatric ward. Margaret, who has been struggling together with her personal psychological well being, fears that she could also be doomed to the identical destiny due to genetics.
But in actual fact, the Hereditary Principle refers back to the system that governs the British monarchy and its line of succession. In a hereditary monarchy, the switch of energy is ruled by bloodlines. Per BBC History journal, “power and titles pass from family member to family member.” And within the episode, Princess Margaret’s place inside the hereditary hierarchy is diminished when Queen Elizabeth’s youngest son, Edward, comes of age. Below, a primer on precisely what occurred right here.
Where is Princess Margaret within the line of succession?
The royal line of succession runs in beginning order, which means that on the time of King George VI’s dying in 1952, Elizabeth was first in line to the throne and Margaret was second. Elizabeth and Prince Philip’s 4 youngsters, Charles, Andrew, Edward, and Anne, had been all born forward of Margaret within the line of succession. Anne is behind her brothers—and their youngsters—due to a sexist custom that was lastly modified in 2013. By 1985, when the episode takes place, Margaret was ninth in line, behind the queen’s 4 youngsters and 4 grandchildren (Charles and Anne every had two youngsters at this level).
How did Prince Edward’s birthday in 1985 affect Princess Margaret’s place within the monarchy?
This is the place the 1937 Regency Act is available in. As the queen’s non-public secretary Martin Charteris explains within the episode, the act created an inventory of senior royals who may very well be known as on to deputize for the monarch in an official capability; these royals are known as Counsellors of State. Now that Edward has turned 21, he’s thought of to be of age (later variations of the Act amended this to 18), which does not change his place within the line of succession, however does imply he’ll mechanically be added to the Regency Act listing—rather than Margaret. The Regency Act restricts the variety of Counsellors of State to simply six, per BBC History, and Margaret now not makes the minimize; the six who did had been Prince Philip, the Queen Mother, Prince Charles, Prince Andrew, Prince Edward, and Princess Anne.
The Act reads: “An Act to provide that, in the event of a Regency becoming necessary under the Regency Act 1937, His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh shall in certain circumstances be the Regent, to provide that the heir apparent or heir presumptive to the Throne shall be deemed for the purposes of that Act to be of full age if he or she has attained the age of eighteen years, to add Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother to the persons to whom royal functions may be delegated as Counsellors of State, and for purposes connected with the matters aforesaid.”
Margaret, due to this fact, is requested to relinquish her position as counsellor of state. The episode actually sticks the knife in right here, as a result of simply days earlier, Margaret has all however begged the wueen to offer her extra accountability, not much less. “I’m finally ready to focus on the one thing that won’t let me down,” she says, in an uncharacteristic second of vulnerability after a romantic rejection. “Us. My position as a royal. My duty. I come on bended knee with a familiar request: Give me as much responsibility as you can. What your sister needs to stay afloat is a sense of meaning.”
The queen provides her a pained smile earlier than breaking the information days later. In actual life, there is not a lot reporting round how Margaret reacted to the demotion.
Margaret’s ailing well being additionally performed a job in her stepping again from royal duties.
As depicted within the episode, Margaret underwent a critical lung operation at London’s National Heart and Chest Hospital in January of 1985. During the surgical procedure, she had a part of one in every of her lungs eliminated, which was discovered to not be cancerous.
“Princess Margaret underwent an operation yesterday,” the hospital stated in a press release, per AP. “This was to remove a small area of her left lung, which was found to be innocent.” But the cancer scare was particularly worrying given Margaret’s family history. Her father, King George VI, died of lung cancer, and she had been a heavy smoker throughout her life.
According to BBC History, Margaret’s failing well being led to her being seen extra positively by the press and the general public. “News editors had been conscious of her private state of affairs, so handled her extra sympathetically,” the journal quotes royal historian Dr. Ed Owens as saying. “As the public’s attention shifted to the activities (and antics) of Princess Diana and Sarah Ferguson, Margaret was gradually regarded with greater affection. She disapproved of the behavior of the younger royal women, and she re-asserted herself in public life as a figure who was devoted to her duty and the queen, playing the role of reliable sister and confidante.”