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Princess Charlotte and other royal supporting acts: a look at the vital role they play

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There's a fine balancing act to being the second-born, as Princess Charlotte, who turns one on 2 May, will find out as she grows up. As what's been jokingly dubbed 'the spare to the heir', you have to carve out your own path in life while giving unstinting loyalty to the elder sibling who will one day have 'the top job'.These days, there's little likelihood that you will be needed to take the throne yourself. But you will always have an invaluable role to play, as someone who has known the sovereign from their earliest years and understands them probably better than anyone else.


princess margaret © Photo: Getty Images

Those who knew Princess Margaret emphasise her sense of fun and her total loyalty

No one illustrated the challenges of the position more acutely than the Queen's younger sister, the late Princess Margaret. The siblings were as close as could be during childhood, and their father King George's death, and Elizabeth's accession, only strengthened their bond.

Those who knew Margaret emphasise her sense of fun and her total loyalty, both of which must have made her company a joy to Elizabeth as she took on the serious and sometimes lonely role of monarch. Margaret's devotion to her sister was such that it played a part in her painful decision to give up her first love, Group Captain Peter Townsend, who, as a divorcé, was not considered a suitable royal match. Right up until her death, she and Elizabeth spoke every day.

supporting acts

Princess Gabriella, Princess Isabella and Prince Harry

In the younger generation, Prince William's brother Prince Harry has won countless fans for the way he's handled his position as second born. Alongside an exuberant personality, he has developed a well-respected public persona.Harry has adopted a string of worthy causes, from the fight against landmines to the plight of war veterans and disaster victims, as seen recently on his visit to Nepal, where he received a hero's welcome. His little niece, Princess Charlotte, will find he can offer her plenty of helpful advice as she grows older.

princess charlotte © Photo: PA

Princess Charlotte is fourth-in-line to the British throne

Naturally, she will also look to all the other young second siblings in royal houses across Europe and beyond, from Princess Alexia of the Netherlands to Prince Hashem of Jordan.

Click on the photos above to look at the lives and characters of these youngsters, who provide an often unsung, but sterling supporting act.

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