New Zealand backs change to royal succession

18th April 2011, Comments 0 comments

New Zealand on Monday supported changing royal succession rules to allow Prince William and Kate Middleton's first born to become monarch regardless of its gender.

Prime Minister John Key said New Zealand backed a proposal to scrap the principle of male primogeniture, which means that the first born son would be next in line to the throne, even if he had an older sister.

"New Zealand supports that view (but) I don't know whether those changes will happen anytime soon," he told TVNZ.

Key, who will travel to Britain for William and Kate's April 29 wedding at London's Westminster Abbey, said he doubted Queen Elizabeth II would raise the issue during a scheduled lunch at Windsor Castle.

He said she was more likely to seek information about the impact of a February 22 earthquake which killed more than 180 people in Christchurch and a disaster at the Pike River colliery last year in which 29 miners died.

Britain's Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who is responsible for constitutional reform, has raised the issue of changing succession rules, describing the current system as "old fashioned".

New Zealand, a former British colony, still recognises the queen as the country's head of state.

The chairman of the country's Republican Movement, Lewis Holden, said most New Zealanders would be "aghast" that such a sexist succession rule was used to appoint their head of state.

He also said the succession changes Clegg had proposed failed to end discrimination against non-Anglicans who married into the royal family.

"The changes will keep the position of New Zealand's head of state in the hands of a British aristocratic family on the other side of the world," he said, calling for a referendum to decide the country's head of state.

He said republicans in New Zealand were not planning protests during the royal wedding, adding "we'll just go to the pub instead".

"Look, it's a wedding and weddings are fun," he said. "We just think that it has no constitutional relevance to New Zealand in the 21st century."

© 2011 AFP

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