Cheerio, faithful readers! Did any of you catch the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton last week? Oh come on, you know you wanted to see Kate become a princess! I’m a pretty heartless American and even I couldn’t help but tear up when I saw her entrance into Westminter Abbey. I’ll admit, I wasn’t motivated enough to wake up 5 hours before my alarm to drink tea and eat scones with my roommates, but I enjoyed the post-show. Also, after becoming obsessed with The King’s Speech, the matters of British royal lineage have peaked my interest. (If you haven’t seen it, by the way, do. It’s magnificent.)
Something that was only briefly touched on during the royal wedding shenanigans — but rather important in magnitude — was the potential change in royal law regarding succession to the throne. CNN learned that the British government is in talks to change the centuries-old discriminatory law which overlooks older daughters in favor of the first-born son and bars non-Protestants from assuming the throne, rules introduced in 1701. Gender discrimination and religious intolerance, oh my! Scandalous! … but somehow it worked for 310 years?
CNN understands these discussions also deal with religious discrimination inherent the laws surrounding succession.
If William was Catholic, he could not succeed to the throne. He also could not become king if Kate had been Catholic.
The anti-Catholic clause is a throwback to the 1600s when the Catholic King James II was perceived as favoring Catholics and appointing them to positions of power.
[One expert said] “The reason that’s bizarre is because you don’t forfeit the right to the throne if you marry someone who subsequently becomes a Catholic so the act doesn’t even achieve what it sets out to achieve.
“He could marry any other religion. He could marry a Satanist, a scientologist, a Muslim, a Methodist and that would have no impact whatsoever in his right to succeed to the throne.”
The man behind the bill to outlaw the discriminatory parts of the succession rules, Member of Parliament Keith Vaz, says that the 310 year-old law banning girls from royal ascension is “offensive.” His bill amends “In determining the line of succession to the Crown and to all the rights, privileges and dignities belonging thereto, no account shall be taken of gender.” However, he’s got quite the battle ahead of him. Besides getting the bill through the British parliament, he needs the support of every single parliament in the 15 realms or countries where the British queen is monarch. Right now he has the support of St. Lucia.
It’s a long shot, but still, it’s an important step. If the British monarchy can get over this hurdle, hopefully it will set precedent for many other countries to examine their rules of succession and make steps to correct gender, religious, and/or any other forms of discrimination.