With the birth of the newest (as yet unnamed) little royal, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge made history—and so did their middle child, 2-year-old Princess Charlotte.
She is the first princess in history to not lose her place in line for the throne to a little brother. It may seem like the kind of thing that only impacts, well, the royal family, but the ripple effect of this change is important for girls all over the world.
The message is clear: Girls (royal or not) are just as important, valuable and capable as their brothers.
The rule change came about in 2015 as the Succession to the Crown Act. Back in 2011 leaders of Commonwealth unanimously voted to change tradition so that the gender of a royal wouldn’t factor into the order of succession.
More detailed plans were agreed upon by Commonwealth leaders the next year, right after the Duchess’ first pregnancy was announced. Basically, the rule change meant that if the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were to have a girl first, that girl would not lose her spot to a younger brother. Because the couple’s first child, now 4-year-old Prince George, turned out to be a boy, the rule change didn’t impact him—but it does impact his little sister.
Before the rule change, having a baby brother would have meant Princess Charlotte would have gone from fourth in line for the throne (behind grandfather Prince Charles, her dad William, and brother George) to fifth in line for the throne, being booted out of her spot by her baby brother.
Now, she gets to keep her spot. It’s a win for Princess Charlotte and really, a win for girls all over the world. As old-fashioned as many things about the monarchy are, this rule change reflects something many modern parents are trying to instill in the next generation: gender equality.
As far as we’ve come, we still live in a world where in some places, girls are denied the access to education their brothers enjoy, and even in countries where girls are able to go to and succeed in school, social norms and outdated traditions keep them thinking they’re not as qualified to lead as the boys are.
A recent study of more than 10,000 American girls found that even girls with perfect GPAs don’t think they are smart enough. And while most girls said they like to be in charge, one in three said she was afraid to act as a leader for fear of being perceived as bossy. And gender pay gap problems prove problems related to gender equality follow girls into womanhood.
I hope Princess Charlotte grows to be a royal #girlboss, but even if she doesn’t, by simply being the first princess to keep her spot, this little girl is making history and the law changes that lead to this historic moment are sending an important message.
Sometimes, the excuse for sexist behavior is “it’s always been this way,” but the change that’s allowing Princess Charlotte to keep her spot proves that’s no excuse for keeping girls down.
The Succession to the Crown Act took years and required international agreements and changes to constitutional documents. If that can be done, surely we can change some little league rules and teach people to stop asking #girlmoms if they “going to try for a boy.”
Girls are just as valuable and just as big a blessing as boys. And Princess Charlotte is proof.