Her Feminist Majesty: Could Emma Watson really become the Queen of England?

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I’m going to ask the indulgence of the regular readers of this blog for this article, which admittedly appears to dip a toe into the waters of celebrity gossip–a shark-infested pool in which I’m neither inclined nor competent to try to swim. But as I have previously exhibited an interest in issues involving the succession of modern monarchs, and such issues are intensely rooted in history and tradition, I couldn’t resist doing this one, so bear with me.

In February of this year (2015) an Australian tabloid printed a rumor that Emma Watson, the actress who played Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter films and who is now a powerful and eloquent voice for women’s empowerment around the world, might be dating Henry Charles Albert David Mountbatten-Windsor, more commonly known as Prince Harry. Miss Watson has since denied the rumor, but not before the world collectively swooned at the thought: could Emma Watson actually become Queen of England someday? I admit, the notion is very exciting. In addition to her devastating good looks and exceptional charisma, the idea of Emma Watson being able to advance the causes of feminism and human rights from the bully pulpit of Buckingham Palace is thrilling.

Could it really happen, though? Unfortunately the answer is no. More unfortunately, the answer doesn’t change even if you assume–which I stress Miss Watson has denied–that she is in a relationship with Prince Harry. Under the legal and historical precedent of succession to the British crown, the best Emma Watson could ever possibly do would be “Queen Consort of Great Britain,” which, as I explained in my article on Back to the Future II, is not the same thing as “Queen.” A Queen Consort is the wife of a reigning king of England, and although she could be called “Queen” in everyday usage, she would have no claim to any official succession, and would enjoy the title only so long as she remained married to the monarch.

Forget Hermione Granger. Emma Watson’s greatest achievement is her contribution to the advancement of feminism and women’s rights, as her famous speech to the U.N. demonstrates.

But even to get as far as Queen Consort, all of the following must happen.

1. Miss Watson must marry Harry and stay married to him, for, as you’ll see below, potentially a very long time.

2. Prince Charles, the current heir-apparent, must no longer be King. In my previous article on “King Charles III” I predicted that if and when Charles gets to the throne he’s been waiting for all his life, he may reign for 20 years or more, depending on how long he lives.

3. Prince William, Charles’s son and Harry’s brother, must also no longer be King or in the line of succession. Let’s just assume for the sake of argument that Elizabeth II dies tomorrow, at age 89, and Charles, who is now 66, lives to exactly the same age she did. That would mean Charles would die in 2037 after a reign of 22 years. In 2037 William, born in 1982, will be 55. If he lives as long as his grandmother, he’ll be on the throne until the year 2071. Harry is only two years younger than William, and in 2071 Emma Watson will be 81. But we’re still not done.

4. William’s children, whether alive today or yet to be born, must also somehow get out of the line of succession. Prince George, William’s son, was born in 2013. If William becomes king eventually, which is likely, and again assuming everyone lives a long life, George gets to the throne in 2071–he would be King George VII–he’ll be 58 and could potentially be on the throne at the turn of the 22nd century. Even if he doesn’t make it, other children of Prince William, should he have more, would get “cuts” in the line of succession in front of Harry, as would any children they have.

Thus, attractive as the notion is, its totally impossible that Emma Watson would ever become the titular Queen of England, and virtually impossible that she could ever become Queen Consort even if the rumors about her and Harry were true, which they aren’t. Of course, the character she played on the screen, Hermione Granger, would have much less trouble; if she wanted certainly she could bewitch the House of Lords to put her right up front in the line of succession–assuming Ron Weasley was out of the way. But no matter. Emma Watson’s contributions to the real world as a feminist and activist are far greater than anything she would achieve by being a fairy tale princess.

The photo of Emma Watson in the header image is by Georges Biard and is used under Creative Commons 3.0 (Attribution) license. The composite header was put together by me and is relicensed under the same license.
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