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British royal family facts for kids

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The British royal family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace
The royal family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace after the annual Trooping the Colour in 2013

The British royal family comprises Charles III, King of the United Kingdom, and his close relations. There is no strict legal or formal definition of who is or is not a member, although the Royal Household has issued different lists outlining who is a part of the royal family. They support the monarch in undertaking public engagements and often pursue charitable work and interests. The royal family are regarded as British cultural icons.


The head of state of the United Kingdom and 14 other Commonwealth realms is King Charles III. He is the head of the royal family. He has two children and five grandchildren. The Lord Chamberlain's "List of the Royal Family" mentions all of Elizabeth II's descendants and their spouses (including Sarah, Duchess of York, who is divorced), along with the King's cousins with royal rank and their spouses. The Lord Chamberlain's list applies for the purposes of regulating the use of royal symbols and images of the family. Meanwhile, the website of the royal family provides a list of "Members of the Royal Family"; those listed correspond to the royal family members mentioned and pictured below, with the exception of Princess Beatrice, Princess Eugenie, and the Duchess of Kent. The royal family's guidelines on greeting a member of the royal family say they should first be greeted with "Your Royal Highness". The status of Royal Highness is restricted to children of a monarch, male-line grandchildren of a monarch, the children of the eldest child of the Prince of Wales, and their wives.

Template:Current British royal family tree

Titles and surnames

Full marriage certificate of Philip Mountbatten and Elizabeth Windsor
Marriage certificate of Elizabeth Windsor and Philip Mountbatten, signed by members of the royal family

The monarch's children and patrilineal grandchildren, and the children of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales, are automatically entitled to be known as prince or princess with the style His or Her Royal Highness (HRH). Peerages, often dukedoms, are bestowed upon most princes prior to marriage. Peter Phillips and Zara Tindall, children of the King's sister, Princess Anne, are therefore not prince and princess. Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor and James Mountbatten-Windsor, Viscount Severn, though entitled to the dignity, are not called prince and princess because their parents, the Earl and Countess of Wessex, wanted them to have more modest titles. The King reportedly wants to reduce the number of titled members of the royal family.

Per tradition, wives of male members of the royal family share their husbands' title and style. Princesses by marriage do not have the title prefixed to their own name but to their husband's; for example, the wife of Prince Michael of Kent is Princess Michael of Kent. Sons of monarchs are customarily given dukedoms upon marriage, and these peerage titles pass to their eldest sons.

Male-line descendants of King George V, including women until they marry, bear the surname Windsor. The surname of the male-line descendants of Queen Elizabeth II, except for women who marry, is Mountbatten-Windsor, reflecting the name taken by her Greek-born husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, upon his naturalisation. A surname is generally not needed by members of the royal family who are entitled to the titles of prince or princess and the style His or Her Royal Highness. Such individuals use surnames on official documents such as marriage registers.

Public role

HRH The Princess Royal visits Paisley. (10297783076)
The Princess Royal meeting members of the public in Paisley, Renfrewshire

During the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, official duties were undertaken on behalf of her by her children and their spouses, grandchildren and their spouses, and cousins and their spouses. Among her cousins, only the children of King George V's sons carry out royal engagements. The family supported the Queen in her state and national duties, with the exception of constitutional functions.

If the sovereign is indisposed, two Counsellors of State are required to fulfil his role, with those notionally eligible being restricted to the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Sussex, the Duke of York and Princess Beatrice.

Each year the family "carries out over 2,000 official engagements throughout the UK and worldwide", entertaining 70,000 guests and answering 100,000 letters. Engagements include state funerals, national festivities, garden parties, receptions, and visits to the Armed Forces. Many members have served in the Armed Forces themselves, including the King's brothers and sons. Engagements are recorded in the Court Circular, a list of daily appointments and events attended by the royal family. Public appearances are often accompanied by walkabouts, where royals greet and converse with members of the public outside events.

Annual events attended by the royal family include the State Opening of Parliament, Trooping the Colour, and the National Service of Remembrance. According to historian Robert Lacey, Elizabeth II once said that investitures of the honours recipients are the most important thing she does. Prince William and Princess Anne also perform investitures. Family members represent the King on official visits and tours to other countries as ambassadors to foster diplomatic relations. They have also attended Commonwealth meetings on the monarch's behalf. The royal family also participates in state visits on the advice of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which includes the welcoming of dignitaries and a formal banquet. Journalist James Forsyth has referred to the family as "soft power assets".

Given the royal family's public role and activities, it is sometimes referred to by courtiers as "The Firm", a term that originated with George VI. Members of the royal family are politically and commercially independent, avoiding conflict of interest with their public roles. The royal family are considered British cultural icons, with young adults from abroad naming the family among a group of people who they most associated with British culture. Members are expected to promote British industry. Royals are typically members of the Church of England, headed by the monarch, and have previously served as Lord High Commissioner to the Church of Scotland.

Members of the royal family are patrons for approximately 3,000 charities, and have also started their own nonprofit organisations. The King started The Prince's Trust, which helps young people in the UK that are disadvantaged. Princess Anne started The Princess Royal Trust for Carers, which helps unpaid carers, giving them emotional support and information about benefit claims and disability aids. The Earl and Countess of Wessex founded the Wessex Youth Trust, since renamed The Earl and Countess of Wessex Charitable Trust, in 1999. The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and Cambridge are founding patrons of The Royal Foundation, whose projects revolve around mental health, conservation, the early years, and emergency responders.

In 2019, following the negative reactions to the "Prince Andrew & the Epstein Scandal" interview, the Duke of York was forced to resign from public roles; the retirement became permanent in 2020. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex permanently withdrew from royal duties in early 2020. Following these departures, there is a shortage of royal family members to cover the increasing number of patronages and engagements.


Kate Biodiversity Visit
The Duchess of Cambridge, escorted by security officers, meets with Sir Michael Dixon

Senior members of the royal family, who represent the monarch, draw their income from public funds known as the sovereign grant. The sovereign grant is an annual payment of the British government to the monarch. It comes from the revenues of the Crown Estate, which are commercial properties owned by the Crown. Members of the royal family who receive money from the sovereign grant must be accountable to the public for it and are not allowed to make money from their name.

The security of the royal family is not paid from the sovereign grant but is usually met instead by the Metropolitan Police. The royal family, the Home Office, and the Metropolitan Police decide which members have a right to taxpayer-funded police security. Extended members do not retain automatic right to protection; in 2011, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie ceased receiving police security.


Barack Obama Michelle Obama Queen Elizabeth II Buckingham Palace London
Elizabeth II hosting Barack and Michelle Obama at Buckingham Palace in 2009

The monarch's official residence in London is Buckingham Palace. Announcements of the births and deaths of members of the royal family are traditionally attached to its front railings. Queen Elizabeth II's Scottish residence was the Palace of Holyroodhouse, where she resided at the beginning of each summer. While in Northern Ireland, Hillsborough Castle serves as a residence for members of the royal family.

Clarence House served as the official residence of Prince Charles (later The King) from 2003 until he inherited the throne on 8 September 2022. Another London residence of the Prince of Wales is St James's Palace, which he shares with the Princess Royal and Princess Alexandra. Princess Alexandra also resides at Thatched House Lodge in Richmond. The Prince and Princess of Wales and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester have their residences and offices at apartments in Kensington Palace, London. The Duke and Duchess of Kent reside in Wren House on the palace grounds. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex's official residence in the United Kingdom is Frogmore Cottage. The Duke of York lives at the Royal Lodge in Windsor Great Park, while the Earl and Countess of Wessex reside at Bagshot Park in Surrey.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Familia real británica para niños

  • Royal descent
  • Military service by British royalty
  • Education of the British royal family
  • List of honours of the British royal family by country
  • List of longest-living members of the British royal family
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