Royal women to have equal right to rule
In late March 2009, a Private Member’s Bill was discussed in the British Commons proposing an end to a centuries-old law that gives men priority over their older sisters in the royal line of succession. The Bill had support from all parties and consent from the Queen for the debate to take place. If these changes were applied now, Princess Anne would rise from 10th in line to the throne to fourth, leapfrogging princes Andrew and Edward and their children.
The ban on members of the royal family marrying Roman Catholics – unless they give up their claim to the throne – would also be swept away. Autumn Kelly, wife of the Queen’s grandson Peter Phillips, gave up her Catholic faith on marriage so her husband could retain his place as 11th in line to the throne.
The British Prime Minster Gordon Brown stated the 1701 Act of Settlement was an “anomaly that has no place in the 21st century”. Buckingham Palace is said to be sympathetic to the idea and ready to “open dialogue” on the issue. Brown also plans to raise the issue at the Commonwealth summit in November 2009, since the law would have to be amended in every country where the Queen was head of state.
There will be no change, however, to the requirement for the monarch to be a Protestant. Altering that would upset the position of the Church of England as the established church. The law requires that the monarch is also Supreme Governor of the church. Britain’s Roman Catholic leaders have publicly expressed their desire to see the Act reformed.
The next step after giving royal women equal right to rule is asking the question - why do royalty have priority to rule over other citizens?