10/13/2011

Brits finally tackle sexism in succession rules

The British monarchy is finally putting its regal foot in the 21st century.

The tradition-laden Family Firm looks like it might soon be rid of centuries-old rules that discriminates against royal daughters inheriting the throne and forbids marriage to Roman Catholics.

Will-kateAnd none too soon, as royal baby watchers stay tuned and the rumour mill keeps churning around the parental prospects of Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge (right).

British Prime Minister David Cameron is consulting with the 15 other countries recognize the Queen as their head of state – including Canada – to seek consensus on reforming the laws that date back to the time of Henry VIII. Canada's prime minister, Stephen Harper, has given his blessing to Britain's initiative.

Under the proposed changes, the first child of Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge, regardless of sex, would eventually become the monarch. As it stands now, a daughter would have to stand aside for a brother, even if she was the first-born.

"We espouse gender equality in all other aspects of life and it is an anomaly that in the rules relating to the highest public office we continue to enshrine male superiority," Cameron wrote in his letter to the heads of the Commonwealth nations, including Stephen Harper.

The current rules about regal religious ties are steeped in British history, dating to the 1500s when Henry VIII famously split with the Roman Catholic church over its laws against divorce.

"This rule is a historical anomaly," Cameron said in his letter. "It does not, for example, bar those who marry spouses of other faiths — and we do not think it can continue to be justified."

The sexism rules have kept women off the throne in the past. Queen Victoria's firstborn was a girl, Victoria, but then along game a boy, who made it to the throne instead as King Edward VII.

Buckingham Palace is staying mum (pardon the pun) on the topic.

Comments

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"The current rules about regal religious ties are steeped in British history, dating to the 1600s when Henry VIII famously split with the Roman Catholic church over its laws against divorce."

Ooops! Editors should check facts since Henry VIII was dead by 1547. The split in the Church dates to the early 1530's

how can the Queen be the Head of State in Canada..Aren't we a Democracy...I'm confused...Aha,.... she is on the Money....what belongs to her

Under the current system, a king's wife is a queen, but a queen's husband is a prince, not a king. Will this change as they 'equalize' the rules?

I can't believe some of the comments on this page, obviously Canadians are not informed regarding our system of government or the facts relating to a consitutional monarchy.

Yes, The Queen is our Head of State, that goes back to the British North America Act of 1867, renamed the Canada Act 1982 -- in other words our Consitution. Trudeau and his henchmen liked to distance themselves from any "British" heritage that we had in this country and re-named many things. Canadians have a lot to be proud of in our history, both British and French in nature.

The good thing is the monarchy is entrenched in the Consitution and it would take
all ten provinces agreement to abolish it.

As for the reason a Queen's husband is not a King, it is simple. A female sovereign is a Queen due to the fact that there is no male heir to take the throne.
Elizabeth II had no brothers, but as the eldest daughter of George VI, she was heir apparent, and became Queen in 1952. Her husband, Prince Philip was not in line to the throne and therefore cannot call himself a King. To do so, he would have been in a higher position than his wife, and she had the right to the throne not him as was just a spouse.

A King can make his wife a Queen, but that is a Queen Consort (meaning spouse) she is not a Queen Regant as is our present Queen who is ruling in her own right.
Example, George VI, became King in 1936 and his wife became Queen Elizabeth, but she was only a Consort to the King. She could not rule on her own behalf as does her daughter.

There are other titles -- Queen Mother or Queen Dowager refers to a widowed Queen Consort -- not as some people think, because she is the Queen's mother.

There have been three Queen Mothers in the past century, Queen Alexandra, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth. Both Queen Consorts and Queen Mothers do not have numerals attached to their names as they are not the Sovereign. Queen Mothers are usually referred to by their first names and only the last one was called Queen Mother as she had the same first name as her daughter, so to distinguish between the two, she chose to be known as The Queen Mother.

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