What pop culture teaches us about life as a royal 'spare to the heir' | EW.com

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What pop culture teaches us about life as a royal 'spare to the heir'

Kate Middleton


This morning, the news broke that Prince William and Kate Middleton are expecting their second child—or as some put it, their “spare to the heir.”

In the real-life tabloids, second-eldest royal siblings are often portrayed as the more “out of control” children, with less royal responsibility. But TV and movies are just as fascinated (if not more so) with noble siblings, and according to pop culture, being second in the royal bloodline could mean any number of other things, too. Here are a few more specific lessons that Prince George’s future sibling might want to take into account.

The King’s Speech: If your brother abdicates, you could become the king—and be forced to speak publicly on a regular basis—even if you don’t want to.

The Royals: From the looks of this show, it doesn’t really matter which kid you are. Being royal means partying and trying to keep your private parts off the cover of tabloid magazines.

The Lion King: Your jealous brother will probably drop you off a cliff and allow you to get trampled by a stampede. But don’t worry, your son will avenge your honor (in a few years).

Frozen: You can either become a villain, if you’re a man, or you can be so desperate to be married that you fall for a villain, if you’re a woman.

Hamlet: As a “spare to the heir,” you might one day get the urge to murder your older brother and marry his wife. [Ed note: Don’t do that.]

Reign: If your older brother is a bastard, you might as well be the first-born. Well, unless your fiancee decides to marry him and get him legitimized by the Pope. Also, if your bastard brother isn’t a threat, your dad might be. Just keep an eye on him and make sure he doesn’t try to kill you and marry your wife. Finally, you might have to murder your father in a jousting match in order to keep him away from your woman. Hey, all’s fair in love and royalty.

Beauty and the Beast: If you piss off an enchantress, it won’t matter which sibling you are.

Ever After: So long as your mom is Anjelica Huston, it also doesn’t matter which sibling you are. (But if you aren’t the first-born, you won’t win the heart of the handsome prince, obviously.)

The White Queen: Again, birth order doesn’t mean anything. The throne goes to the best manipulator.

Marie Antoinette: If you’re a female “spare,” you can still reign if you pick the right husband.

Game of Thrones: If the King dies, there will be war. Also, if your older brother dies, the kingdom is yours, even if you’re a child. Final lesson: If you’ve been exiled, you’re going to need an army to have any shot at the crown.

Mulan: … On the upside, at least you know that if your family needs to go to war, they’ll look to your older brother before they look to you.