Britain reviewing royal succession ahead of wedding

19th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

Britain said Wednesday it is discussing with other Commonwealth realms changing the laws of succession to the throne, which would give equal rights to any daughter of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

With just 100 days to go until the couple's wedding, the debate over the more than 300-year-old law that gives male heirs precedence has been reignited after a senior lawmaker proposed a change to the legislation.

A spokeswoman for the Cabinet Office said the British government accepts that parts of the 1701 Act of Settlement, which also bars Roman Catholics from the throne, "could be discriminatory".

"Amending the Act of Settlement is a complex and difficult matter that requires careful and thoughtful consideration," the spokeswoman said.

"Discussions have started with those Commonwealth countries who would be directly affected by any change in the rules, and are continuing, but it would not be appropriate to release details at this stage."

Queen Elizabeth II is the head of state in 16 Commonwealth realms, including Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Jamaica.

The 1931 Statute of Westminster requires that any changes to the succession rules can only be made with the agreement of all the Commonwealth realms.

Without such agreement, different realms could end up with different monarchs, breaking common allegiance.

William is currently second in line to the throne after his father, Prince Charles.

Proposing a motion in parliament on Tuesday, Keith Vaz, an MP with the opposition Labour Party and former Europe minister, said it was the "right time" to discuss the issue due to the royal wedding on April 29.

"Any daughters of Prince William would not succeed their father to the throne if they had a male sibling younger than them," he said.

"Whereas that might have been acceptable for another age, I believe that at this time in our history Britain is a modern, egalitarian society and that this ought to be reflected in our succession rules."

Countries including Sweden, Holland, Norway, Belgium and Denmark had scrapped similar male succession laws, he added.

"It is a matter for the government," a Buckingham Palace spokeswoman told AFP.

© 2011 AFP

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