Following the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s baby announcement and fears about the possibility of a constitutional crisis, the British government announced Dec. 4, 2012, that it had written consent from the 15 Commonwealth countries Queen Elizabeth still rules and would introduce succession legislation “as soon as possible.” A previous bill, introduced in 2011, did not make it through Parliament.
While the change from male primogeniture succession to plain firstborn succession have been in the works since October, 2011, no formal laws have yet been passed. The BBC reported Tuesday that the Succession to the Crown Bill will require amendments to Britain’s Bill of Rights, the Coronation Oath Act of 1688, the 1701 Act of Settlement and the 1706 Act of Union with Scotland — all of which form part of the constitution.
Cameron confirmed that the Government of New Zealand was coordinating, and had collected written statements from the 15 Realms that they could and would pass their own laws before the birth of William’s and Kate’s baby. This neatly side-steps any constitutional hiccups such as, for example, in Sweden, when the older Crown Princess Victoria replaced her brother as heir in 1980 following a succession law change.
According to “The Herald Sun,” Australia’s Prime Minister Julia Gillard has already confirmed the legislation will be introduced there in 2013, as it will in New Zealand, while other Realms have reportedly already started the process.
Beyond the line of succession, other rules that will change include the requirement for a member of all but the first six in line to the throne to seek permission of the monarch to marry, and the marriage to a Catholic automatically kicking the royal out of the line of succession. However, according to “The Guardian” a monarch can still not be Catholic.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said that the timing of this final consent was a “wonderful coincidence,” according to “The Telegraph.” As Clegg put it:
“Government will soon introduce the Succession to the Crown Bill which will make our old fashioned rules fit for the 21st Century. It will write down in law what we agreed back in 2011 – that if the Duke and Duchess Cambridge have a baby girl, she can one day be our Queen even if she later has younger brothers.”
Queen Elizabeth is monarch in the United Kingdom, Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu — though Jamaica is currently considering whether to become independent.
- The truth about the succession laws
Sources: BBC; Telegraph; Herald Sun; Previous succession bill;
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