Heightened attention has surrounded Buckingham Palace in recent weeks, following the absence of Queen Elizabeth II from Christmas Day and New Year's Day church services after failing to shake off a winter cold. With the Queen not present for such traditional services, rumors began spreading on social media that the 90-year-old monarch, who is the supreme governor of the Church of England, had passed away.

The false speculation has prompted many to wonder what will happen when the Queen does indeed die or retire, and with the most notable query being who will take over the throne. Elizabeth II, the longest reigning monarch in British history, has been queen since 1952 and most people have not known of the Royal Family without her.

For many interested parties, the name that often arises when on the topic of the Royal Family is Kate Middleton, the wife of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's eldest son Prince William. The Duchess of Cambridge is immensely popular and emerged as a fashion icon even prior to her engagement to William in November 2010.

But any thought that the 34-year-old Duchess of Cambridge taking the throne soon is unlikely to become reality.

Prince Charles, 68, is the heir apparent and will become king once Queen Elizabeth passes or abdicates. Prince William, meanwhile, is second-in-line to the throne and is followed by his children with the Duchess of Cambridge: Prince George and then Princess Charlotte, at third and fourth, respectively. 

Prince William, 34, would only become king if Prince Charles chooses to abdicate and pass the throne to him. Prince Charles' approval ratings have received a boost in recent years, which likely means he will choose to accept the throne. But even should Charles abdicate, or when he finally passes on the throne, the Duchess of Cambridge will not sit on the throne.

The wife of a king generally has the title of queen, but it is a purely ceremonial one. Technically, the spouse of the monarch is known as the royal consort.

Prince William's younger brother, Prince Harry, is fifth-in-line to the throne, and is followed by the Queen’s second-eldest son Prince Andrew, who is sixth-in-line, followed by his daughters Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, at seventh and eighth, respectively.

Betting odds for the next monarch listed by BetStar.uk don't reference the Duchess of Cambridge, but have Prince Charles at 1/4 odds, followed by Prince William at 5/2. Prince George is a 25-1 longshot, while Prince Harry has 33-1 odds.