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British Royal Succession Laws Changed

Posted on the 28 October 2011 by Periscope @periscopepost

Royal succession laws changed: Equal rights for princesses

The Royal Family. Photocredit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/magnus_d/5669403693/sizes/z/in/photostream/

Has a constitutional crisis been averted? David Cameron today met members of the 16 Commonwealth countries (including Britain) that make up the Queen’s Realms.

They’ve now unanimously signed up to an agreement that will change the current laws of succession for the monarchy. Boys had precedence over girls (which meant that, for instance, Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex comes before Princess Anne, the Princess Royal, even though he’s younger than she is), and if you marry a Catholic, you’re out (for example, Prince Michael of Kent married one, so is barred from succession; his children, however, are not.) This had led to fears over a rumpus should the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have a daughter first, then a boy. Shouldn’t a princess, in this day and age, have the same precedence as a prince?

These laws are enshrined in the Bill of Rights 1688; the Coronation Oath Act 1688; the Act of Settlement 1701; and the Royal Marriages Act 1772.

“These rules are outdated and need to change. The idea that a younger son should become monarch instead of an elder daughter, simply because he is a man just isn’t acceptable any more”, said David Cameron, quoted on The Daily Mail.

What about human rights? Haven’t we got better things to worry about? asked Brian Rudman in The New Zealand Herald. The changes won’t make any difference to ordinary citizens – the only ones it will affect are the “handful of blue bloods” who claim descent from the Electress Sophia of Hanover. The proposals will only bring equality to “this exclusive little aristocratic club.” The Commonwealth should be fighting for commonwealth and democracy – how can it do this as it’s voting to perpetuate a feudal way of choosing its head of state?

King Francis II of England. Tim Shipman in The Daily Mail pointed out that had the rules been around a bit earlier, we would have had two Victorias, with Queen Victoria’s eldest daughter succeeding; then, on her death, Kaiser Wilhem II would have gained the throne – and maybe have prevented the First World War. He also said that if the 1701 Act of Settlement had not passed the crown to the Electress Sophia of Hanover, and all her Protestant descendants, then we would now be ruled over by Franz, Duke of Bavaria (the current claimant to the throne of the House of Stuart.)

The royal soap opera. Even though monarchy is not compatible with equality, sniffed The Guardian’s editorial, we should welcome this “zephyr of egalitarian zeal” that has blown through court circles. These changes are immensely overdue – though making a non-Protestant monarch is something that’s still “too daunting” to contemplate. If “the great royal soap opera” must continue, then it needs to “keep the story line up to date” – these changes will hardly lead to republicanism.


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