Reform of royal succession

Apparently there has been some discussion of reform of royal succession in England.

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  1. MargoB says:

    In a land said to be rather non-religious, this is an intriguing statistic: “Some 81% believed that an heir to the throne should be allowed to marry a Roman Catholic and still become monarch.” (from the article linked in the post)

    Of course, if they married a Roman Catholic (notice the question is about *Roman* Catholics!), wouldn’t their children have to be raised Catholic, then?

    If this passes, then in 100 years, what would “Anglican” mean, I wonder…

  2. Mitch_WA says:

    This seems like a distraction. Catholics in England get all excited about this, meanwhile highly immoral bills get passed while they are looking the other way.

  3. Lepanto says:

    Why do we care about the schismatic heretic barbarian British monarchs? If they change the succession it would just mean that one usurper would replace another usurper. The kings (both masculine and feminine) of England are all illegimate.

    It is a pity that I share my language with these barbaric Angles, Saxons and Norsemen. It is said that Gregory the Great said “non angli sed Angeli” well unfortunately that doesn’t hold any more.

    Let’s focus on a real royal family such as the Catholic monarchs of Spain. They have their problems too but at least they are legitimate monarchs of the true Christian church and there is hope for their country.

  4. Dominic H says:

    Not so much in England, Father, as in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and in the other Commonwealth countries and dependencies that have Her Majesty as Head of State.

    (Not merely a pedantic point: this move, were it ever to be implemented, could easily aid the unraveling of the Union. And, before that, the disestablishment of the Church of England. Although, given the general way of the C of E, I am undecided whether on balance that would be a good or bad thing. I’m really not sure what it would mean for the Church of Scotland. And of course there is no established church in Wales now for a century or so already. And Northern Ireland…erm don’t go there. Well, do go there, it’s a delightful place. But let’s not explore this topic in that regard now).

    Important point: this is a Private Member’s Bill, introduced (as the result of a ballot) by a MP from the 3rd party, the Liberal Democrats: (and, for what it’s worth an MP who is virulently secularist and pro-euthanasia). As such, as is (with some notable exceptions) usually the case with Private Member’s Bills, it is highly unlikely to be approved and to become law. However, it has been getting a fair amount of media coverage, and could conceivably lead to such legislation being adopted as a point of policy by the party in power, should they find it convenient, for whatever reason. (Labour, I think, would be more likely to do so than the Tories; and it’s very unlikely that Labour will still be in office following the next election, which has to be held at the latest in the early summer of next year).

    But, frankly, there are far more important matters than this. And the intent of the proposer of this bill is in no meaningful sense pro-Catholic or pro-Christian. Far from it, in fact. (Isn’t the “real” monarch a prince in Bavaria or somewhere now anywhere…pass me the orange juice)

  5. Sidebar: I do wish it were easier to obtain British Catholic titles in the U.S. Aidan Nichols’ The Realm, linked above, is virtually unavailable.

  6. Matt says:

    “Autumn Kelly, the Canadian wife of the Queen’s grandson Peter Phillips, gave up her Catholic faith ahead of their 2008 wedding so her husband could retain his right to the throne.”

    What a sad tidbit. Where is Don John of Austria when we need him??

  7. Roland de Chanson says:

    If this last discriminatory measure against women and Catholics is repealed, the question remains, will the precedent thereby established be recognized under shari’a by the Caliph of London in a hundred years’ time?

  8. Recusant says:

    This Bill is not designed to end discrimination against Catholics. It is designed to expunge the few remaining bits of Christianity from the Public Square in the United Kingdom. The monarch is ‘Supreme Defender of the Church of England’. this Bill would have the effect of ending that; ending the ‘establishment of the CofE and, intentionally, any involvement of religion in the structure of the State. Which is why our Bishops are downplaying it heavily – they get some things right at least – and saying there are many issues that are higher up the list of Catholic concerns in the UK.

  9. Of course reading the article Father linked to, we see the Monarch still would not be allowed to be Catholic. Only that they can marry a Catholic.

    Perhaps they are afraid the Spanish Armada is still out there somewhere and we can’t wait to create a Queen Mary?

  10. Eric says:


    The anti-spam word for me was “think then post”. Perhaps you should have done the same.

  11. Catholics have been discriminated against for the last 5 centuries in the British Isles. We should be grateful that this opportunity even presents itself. The history books will prove the current form of aggressive secularism to be an ephemeral phenomenon. We do not know what it will be replaced by. Now that the old Protestant anti-Catholic sentiment has been deprived of political influence, we should grab our chance to expunge the residual prejudicies against our religion from the statue books. How can Britain expect God’s blessings while she remains officially hostile to His religion?

  12. Jacob says:

    Two words: SIDE SHOW.

    The UK can mess around with these stupid reforms all it wants, but they are immaterial. Who really cares if women have an equal opportunity to play figurehead or is a Catholic? Queen Elizabeth II I have read is quite high church and old school, but as supreme governor of the Church of England, it’s not as if she’s done anything to halt the slide of that body into the abyss. Do we really think a Roman Catholic monarch would make much of a difference?

    And on my main point, this is all a side show. The /real/ reform the UK’s constitution al situation needs to be figuring out what exactly the role of the House of Lords is to be. At the moment, it’s a rubber stamp for whatever the House of Commons wants thanks to the government’s ability to choose new members. When the House of Lords was made up of conservative hereditary nobility, it served a purpose. But under the reforms of ten years ago, the UK is just tyranny of the majority.

  13. Simon Platt says:

    Recusant is right (as recusants ever were). Readers from overseas, in particular, might like to find out about the sponsor of this bill by clicking here.

  14. MenTaLguY says:

    It seems true to me, though, that so long as the British monarch were the nominal head of the CoE, permitting a Catholic to take on that role would represent, at best, a conflict of interest. Could a Catholic even legitimately accept a position as head of a schismatic body?

  15. ED says:

    Whats the big deal ,if Catholics were allowed to be King and Queen they would proably be the likes of those who are so-called “catholic” politicians. Absolutely worthless frequently distructive.

  16. MenTaLguY says:

    That’s a big deal to my mind, actually. Such public figures are source of great scandal.

  17. Andrew says:

    The issue of the succession to the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (I will forgive the American tendency to confuse ‘the United Kingdom’ with ‘England’) is a side issue for most Catholics, and tells you more about the Government’s willingness to tinker with the nation’s constitution, tradition and history than its practical concern for the temporal wellbeing and self-understanding of Britain’s Catholics.

    This matter is also extremely complicated. On a national level, it concerns the relationship between the Crown, Parliament and the Church of England. It is an established constitutional principle that Parliament decides the succession. Hence, in 1689 the Bill of Rights established that no one in communion with the See of Rome could become King. This was further enshrined in law in the Act of Settlement 1700, and the legislation which enabled the eventual union of the Kingdoms of England and Scotland in 1707. In 1936, Parliament enabled the abdication of Edward VIII, because he could not simply resign of his own free will. So of itself this Bill would just be about Parliament – Her Majesty, the Lords and the Commons – exercising its legislative supremacy. However, the Act of Settlement’s interconnectedness with such matters as the establishment of the Church of England mean that such a Bill cannot be simple. It still does not make provision for the Sovereign to be a Catholic. What will happen if a future Prince of Wales were to marry a Catholic, and she insists on having her children baptised and raised as Catholics? Finally, do we really want to see the Church of England disestablished, as this would inevitably mean the further marginalisation of Christianity?

    On an international level, it affects fifteen other countries, the so-called Commonwealth relams of which Her Majesty is Head of State by virtue of their own constitutions. The Statute of Westminster 1931 requires them to give their consent to any law which affects the succession to the Crown. This means that the Parliament of each realm will have to give effect to such a change in its own law, or else allow the Parliament of the United Kingdom to make such a law for it, with all that such a move would entail.

    So is the Act of Settlement anachronistic? Possibly – but could not the electoral college also be called anachronistic in that it was established in a very different era with a specific purpose which may or may not be relevant or appropriate in an era where many presidents are elected directly? Discriminatory? Possibly – but then ought I consider myself discriminated against in that I cannot conceivably be Head of State of my country because I am not a member of the House of Windsor? Against my human rights? Possibly – although can it really said that people have a human right to be head of state? A side issue? For most British Catholics definitely, in that we are (contra Mitch) deeply concerned about issues such as abortion, stem cell research, education and discrimination, and making our voice heard in the face of one of the worst governments which the Mother of Parliaments has ever known.

  18. Joe says:

    “This means that the Parliament of each realm will have to give effect to such a change in its own law, or else allow the Parliament of the United Kingdom to make such a law for it, with all that such a move would entail.” Certainly not the latter; those days are long gone.
    As a Catholic subject of Her Majesty I am quite content that she cannot be or marry a Catholic. The monarchy seems quite suited for those like Ms “Autumn Kelly” who are willing to apostasize for the sake of the world. As Thomas More said to his acquaintance Richard Rich in A Man for All Seasons “”Why Richard, it profits a man nothing to lose his soul for the whole world… but for Wales?” I would rather have my country populated with frustrated Catholics than led by a scandalous one.

    As to the other matter I don’t care if women take their place with the men in this matter. Anne wouldn’t be worse than Charles.

  19. Trevor says:


    I agree with the above poster who said you should “think then post” (ironically, this was my anti-spam word). For one, you come of as a loon. Your pity about sharing a language with Englishmen, seems to imply the whole lot are Protestants. I’m sure English Catholics would beg to disagree with you. Secondly, you come off as ignorant. If you own an English missal (such as the Baronius Press one), you’ll notice that the section containing the Leonine Prayers also has a “Prayer for the Sovereign of England” (my missal even has “Elizabeth II” written) indicating that the Pope and English hierarchy legitimized the Anglican rulers a long time ago. Perhaps someone more knowledgeable can find the actual decree. However, I’m quite confident that St. Pius V’s bull “Regnans in Excelsis” is no longer valid.

  20. tMentalguy: It seems true to me, though, that so long as the British monarch were the nominal head of the CoE, permitting a Catholic to take on that role would represent, at best, a conflict of interest. Could a Catholic even legitimately accept a position as head of a schismatic body?

    King James II had a rather unsavoury experience with that.

  21. Simon Platt says:

    Pace Joe, I thought More made his famous quote to Wm. Roper. (Or perhaps it’s actually apocryphal?) Also, Anne is younger than Charles.

    Which leads me on to this: one of the things to bear in mind here is that the proposed changes to the sucession would have no effect for the forseeable future. Anne would move up from (something like) tenth in line but would still be only fourth in line after her two nephews, and neither of them has been romantically linked with catholics. The point is that this business is being promoted by the secularist of the year, and picked up by a discredited prime minister.

    That’s pretty much all we need to know.

  22. Carol says:

    I could not get over the thought…….then when will they change the law to allow marriage to other “religions”?

    I thought, hesitated then posted.

  23. AJP says:

    While it would be great to repeal the prohibition on Catholics, it’s a very
    complicated issue and ultimately would probably not change things much, given
    how secular the UK is.

    What I find interesting is the repeal of primogeniture and equal succession
    rights for women. For some reason this really does not sit well with me, and
    I’m not quite sure why. I’m hardly unsympathetic towards women’s rights
    and not a hardliner about gender roles either. In fact, I work in a field
    that is 85% male (I’m female). But for some reason this strikes me as odd
    and disconsonant. Maybe it’s because the justification for removing
    gender discrimination in other areas of society is based on appeals to
    egalitarianism and merit. Whereas a monarchy is the antithesis of egalitarianism
    and meritocracy.

  24. Corleone says:

    Roland de Chanson — If this last discriminatory measure against women and Catholics is repealed, the question remains, will the precedent thereby established be recognized under shari’a by the Caliph of London in a hundred years’ time?

    Ouch! : )

    Actually, I believe the current Caliph of London (aka Prince Charles) is more concerned about whether he as a Mohammedan will be able to assume the throne.

  25. Simon Platt says:

    Carol wondered “when will they change the law to allow marriage to other “religions”?”. Corleone touched on this question, too. Actually, the religious exclusion from the throne affects only catholics. The law was originally aimed specifically at the Stuart line.

  26. Noel says:

    The Bill has fallen in the vote in any event.

  27. Joe says:

    Pace Simon Platt, I did say the movie. I did not imply anything about the historical reality of the line. And it was Richard Rich in the movie:
    The religious exclusion as such might affect only Catholics (i.e. they might be the only ones mentioned), but postively the Monarch has to in the communion of the Church of England.

  28. Simon Platt says:

    Sorry Joe. I should read more carefully.

  29. Andrew says:

    Joe: ‘Certainly not the latter; those days are long gone.’ Hence my reference to ‘with all that such a move would entail’. It would, however, conceivably be possible for a parliament to ask the United Kingdom Parliament to pass the requisite legislation, as the Parliament of Canada did when it asked the United Kingdom Parliament to pass the Canada Act in 1982. This would be the least likely of the two means of obtaining the consent which would be required by the Statute of Westminster.

    Corleone: The Prince of Wales is an Anglican – he is not a Muslim. Furthermore, to refer to Moslems as Mohammedans is as offensive to Moslems as the term Papist would be to Catholics.

    The House of Commons Library published an interesting summary of the status quaestionis back in August 2008; it is worth a read, and can be accessed at

  30. supertradmom says:

    I do not think that Americans understand how important the royal family is to most British people. The Queen is a unifying figure, because she is not political, or voted in, but represents stability. Sadly, she also represents the prejudice which still remains against Roman Catholics, as stated above, a royal may not marry a Catholic. This was an issue many, many years ago when Prince Charles was dating a princess from the continent, who was a Catholic. I believe that was one reason the Queen wanted Charles to marry Diana was to get his attention away from the Catholic on the continent. These prejudices are strong, as many Brits believe that Catholics owe allegiance to Rome first, and therefore cannot be good British leaders.

    However, many Catholics in Britain firmly believe in a monarchy as the best rule for a Christian nation. This idea has waned in recent years among younger Catholics, but for older Catholics, the Queen is important.

  31. Roland de Chanson says:

    Corleone: Actually, I believe the current Caliph of London (aka Prince Charles) is more concerned about whether he as a Mohammedan will be able to assume the throne.

    Ouch twice over! ;-)

    I wonder if Camilla has taken to the hijab. Full burka would be better.

  32. Sixupman says:

    This is a political diversion whilst the country is falling-apart. Opportunist PM Brown has now jumped on the bandwagon with the thought of retaining Scottish Catholic votes.

  33. Corleone says:

    Roland – now THAT was funny!

  34. John says:

    The true King of Britain is Prince Francis of Bavaria. He is a holocaust survivor and his family were ardent anti-Nazis. Frans and his mother and most of his siblings were held in concentration camps in Oranienburg and Dachau. On his death the next Queen will be Sophie, Hereditary Princess of Liechtenstein whose oldest son and heir was born in London in 1995. She is a looker as well. Franz apparently would defer to her anyway.

  35. Simon Platt says:

    Liechtenstein, eh? We could do with some sound financial management.

    The other royal family?

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