Gird your loins, ladies and germs. Prince William and Princess Kate are about to give birth to the second royal baby. Yes, this is finally happening.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge recently returned to their home at Kensington Palace in London to await the birth of their second child, as they did with firstborn George in July of 2013, so it looks like we can expect the little royal rascal to be born fairly soon. There's no word yet on the gender of the baby or what he or she will be named, but the world is glued to a livestream of the Lindo Wing of London's St. Mary's Hospital where Princess Kate is set to once again to deliver her baby.
However, if the hysteria over the royal baby part deux doesn't seem quite as rabid as Prince William and Princess Kate's first birth, you're probably right. You know how these things go. Though I'm sure the second royal baby will be just as loved as the first, the first of something is always more momentous in the public eye.
Birth order especially makes a difference when you're talking about a royal family. When the new royal baby is born, he or she will be fourth in line to the throne behind Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince George. As you can see, firstborn George is in the prime position to inherit the throne from his daddy, while the second royal baby will probably be relegated to prince- or princess-dom for life, especially since these siblings are so close in age. You must have heard some variation of the saying "an heir and a spare" before.
But just because they will probably never make it to the throne doesn't mean the subsequent royal babies are any less important than their firstborn siblings. For one thing, it's always good to have "a spare" around just in case things don't go as planned so the dynasty can remain intact. Because the "spares" don't have the weight of eventually leading the monarchy hanging over their heads either, they seem to have more fun and provide a lot of entertainment to the general public at the same time.
In fact, many royals who were not the firstborn have actually been extremely important to history, and, in some cases, even more influential than the "heir." Here are six royals that didn't let the fact that they weren't the firstborn prevent them from rocking the world.
1. King Richard I
Richard was third in line for the throne, so it was unlikely that he ever would have been king. However, Richard ascended the throne after his brother Henry died in 1183. Richard would go on to become one of the most lauded British monarchs of all time for reigning during the Third Crusade. You probably even know him better by his nickname, the Lionheart, given to him for his courage and military prowess.
2. King Henry VIII
Henry was never supposed to be King of England either. He was the second son of King Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. His older brother, Prince Arthur, passed away in 1502, so Henry was first in line to the throne when his father died seven years later. You know what happened next. The Protestant Reformation and six wives later, Henry became one of the most famous kings to lead the British monarchy ever.
3. Queen Elizabeth I
Elizabeth's 45-year reign is generally considered one of the most successful in British history, which is why she had a whole age named after her and Cate Blanchett played her in the movies — twice. Can you imagine what history would have looked like if Elizabeth hadn't ascended the throne? Well, that could have actually happened. Elizabeth was third in line to the throne behind her half-brother Edward, whose reign ended in 1553 when he died of tuberculosis as a teen, and her half-sister Mary, who died in 1558. Elizabeth's accession shows exactly why you need "a spare," ladies and gentlemen.
4. King George VI
George became King of England in 1936 after his brother, King Edward VIII, abruptly abdicated the throne in order to marry American Wallis Simpson, a divorcee. George helped keep the country together through World War II and has since become immortalized in the 2010 Oscar-winning film The King's Speech.
5. Prince Harry
People all over the world are still obsessed with the British monarchy today thanks in part to Prince Harry. The fame and death of his mother, Princess Diana, thrust Harry into the spotlight alongside his older brother William from an early age. As he grew older, Harry gained quite the reputation as the bad boy of the British monarchy, becoming the target of the paparazzi and grabbing headlines for wearing a Nazi uniform at a costume party and having nude photos of him in his Las Vegas hotel suite leak to the press. A British bloke even duped a bunch of American women into thinking he was the red-headed royal on last summer's short-lived dating show I Wanna Marry Harry. Never change, Harry. Never change.
6. Pippa Middleton
OK, so Pippa Middleton technically isn't royalty just because her sister is the Duchess of Cambridge. However, when she appeared holding sister Kate's train at the royal wedding in 2011, she nearly stole the show and was plunged into super-stardom as a result. The world has been as obsessed with her as the current members of the royal family ever since.