Friday, October 28, 2011

British Commonwealth nations agree to changes in Royal Succession

PERTH, Australia — British Prime Minister David Cameron said Friday that the 16 Commonwealth countries for which Queen Elizabeth II is monarch have agreed to remove gender discrimination in the order of succession to the throne.

Commonwealth national leaders also agreed at a summit in the west coast city of Perth to lift a ban on monarchs marrying Roman Catholics, he said.

Any one of the former British colonies could have vetoed the changes to the centuries-old rules that ensure that a male heir takes the throne ahead of older sisters.

"Attitudes have changed fundamentally over the centuries and some of the outdated rules — like some of the rules of succession — just don't make sense to us any more," Cameron told reporters in Perth.
Read the rest here.


Chris Jones said...

I will never understand why people are so stupid as to argue that an idea is false because it is, as they say, "outdated," as if truth and falsehood is something that changes over time (and can somehow be measured not on the merits of the ideas involved but by our "attitudes"). Male primogeniture may be wrong, but if it is wrong now, then IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN WRONG and it didn't become wrong just this week. (Sorry to shout but as you may notice I feel strongly about this.)

The only possible justification for thinking that ideas become false because they are "outdated" is the notion that we ourselves are becoming wiser and better over time, so that we are able to discern the wrongness of the ideas of previous times, a wrongness that the people who lived in those times were too stupid to notice. However, that notion doesn't bear much scrutiny. I wouldn't want to defend the idea that people who are alive today are smarter than Aquinas, Augustine, Plato, Euclid, Goethe, Euler, or Newton.

And don't get me started on the use of the word "medieval" as a pejorative.

The young fogey said...

So does that mean when Queen Elizabeth dies, Princess Anne would become queen of the old dominions but not the UK, which would go to Prince Charles? Or would the change start only with Prince William's children? Similar possible split if a prince marries a Catholic. Not that it matters really but interesting. A historic first!

Read something interesting at Steve Sailer's that said the Hanover-Windsors are encouraging marriage to attractive born commoners like Princess Catherine not so much for love as to get away from all the Euro-royal inbreeding of cousin marriages and all their genetic including mental problems. Somebody wrote that in centuries past that was the whole point of masked balls, off the books from the church's teaching. Get some commoners' genes to liven up the ruling families' offspring and get away with it. (Technically an affair with a married royal is treason in the UK.) Lord Mountbatten, not the most modest man and a quasi-royal wannabe (born a German prince; lost his royalty in WWI; the Hanover-Windsors' cousin), bragged the Queen's children were smarter thanks to his nephew Prince Philip and he was probably right.

Chris Jones said...

Two more points on this post:

1. Is Cameron too stupid to notice that his calendar-based metric of truth inevitably leads to the abolition of the monarchy itself? Or does he lack the honesty and political courage to cut to the chase and abolish it?

2. For the record, I think male primogeniture, on the merits, is a good idea.

Chris Jones said...


So does that mean ... Princess Anne would become queen of the old dominions?

No, the point of today's story is that any change to the succession requires the concurrence of all the countries of which the Queen is the sovereign -- precisely so that the same person succeeds to the thrones of all the realms. Having proposed this change to the succession, it was incumbent on Cameron to secure the concurrence of all of the other dominions, and now he has done so. So he may proceed to have Parliament make the change.

In any case, even with this change the only way Princess Anne could succeed is if Charles pre-deceases her, because Charles is not only the Queen's eldest son, he is her eldest child. The succession at the moment is first Charles, then William, then Harry. With this change I believe that the succession would be Charles, then Anne, then William, and then Harry.

The young fogey said...

For some reason I thought Princess Anne was the eldest. Thanks.

John (Ad Orientem) said...

Two quick points...

The changes in the succession laws are not retroactive so it will not affect the current order. Secondly the actual line of succession based on pure (gender neutral) primogeniture is HRH Charles Prince of Wales (eldest child of HM The Queen) - HRH William Duke of Cambridge (eldest child of Charles) - HRH Prince Henry (2nd child of Charles). Princess Anne's place is currently 10th in line because Charles is not her only brother. Prince Andrew comes next after Harry until William and Kate do their royal duty and start popping out some kids.

Stephen said...

Practice at such duty normally doesn't make perfect, only permanent.

John (Ad Orientem) said...

I think you are confusing some terms here. "Truth" is not the same thing as valid. And "Outdated" does not necessarily mean untrue. While I grasp the historic, political and cultural rational behind some of the succession laws which are not being done away with, I generally think that the changes are warranted and timely. I don't see an issue of "truth" here. I see laws which were enacted in response to certain political circumstances and cultural norms that have become obsolete as a consequence of the evolution in cultural norms and the changed polity of Great Britain and Europe.

On a personal level I tend to resist change because I am instinctive;y conservative. But I find little valid argument for keeping women from the throne unless there are no male heirs. If one believes men are always to be preferred as monarchs then one should argue for the introduction of Salic law and exclude women entirely from the succession. And the other changes are even more difficult to oppose. The idea that anyone in the line of succession could marry a Muslim but not a Catholic is risible. Political conditions may have made those laws meaningful and wise in the 1700's. But they are certainly not today.

Ector de Maris said...

This proposal is consistent with the development in the British law of royal succession. I recall that the great progressive feminist, Henry V, rejected the law as establsished by Pharamond ("In terram Salicam mulieres ne succedant") as it applied to his claim to the thrown of France. At least that's how the Earl of Oxford had it in one of his plays. ;)