News about the British monarchy

From the Beeb:

Girls equal in British throne succession

Sons and daughters of any future UK monarch will have equal right to the throne, after Commonwealth leaders agreed to change succession laws. [Ho hum… bigger news is below…]

The leaders of the 16 Commonwealth countries where the Queen is head of state unanimously approved the changes at a summit in Perth, Australia.

It means a first-born daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge would take precedence over younger brothers.

The ban on the monarch being married to a Roman Catholic was also lifted[THAT’s news.]


On scrapping the ban on future monarchs marrying Roman Catholics, Mr Cameron said: “Let me be clear, the monarch must be in communion with the Church of England because he or she is the head of that Church. But it is simply wrong they should be denied the chance to marry a Catholic if they wish to do so. After all, they are already quite free to marry someone of any other faith.”


We know that it is no longer required that non-Catholic spouses in mixed marriages agree as a sine qua non to raised children as Catholics, but this could lead to a Catholic apostatizing or abandoning her or his duties to children.

Is, for example, the first born of a future monarch with a Catholic spouse going to be raised Catholic?  The second born?  The third born?

Talk about pressure never to live one’s faith in the public square!

Or am I getting this wrong?

Think about this over a nice cup of tea from the Wyoming Carmelites (they have changed their page, btw)!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Brick by Brick, The Drill, The Last Acceptable Prejudice and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Joan M says:

    In my opinion, it is high time to abolish the UK monarch being head of the Church of England. This is no longer appropriate, if it ever was.

    No Fr. Z, you are not getting it wrong. If an heir to the throne marries a Catholic I can’t see how any of their children would be brought up Catholic. It is most unlikely that only the first born would be brought up Anglican and the others Catholic, thus effectively removing them from the possibility of becoming the monarch should anything prevent the first born from being monarch.

    There is no good reason for any monarch to be head of any religion.

  2. JLASchofield says:

    Of course this has no bearing on who the true King of Britain &c. is.

    Long live King Franz!

  3. shane says:

    “the monarch must be in communion with the Church of England because he or she is the head of that Church”

    Mr Cameron is wrong. The monarch is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, an important distinction arising from the Elizabethean Settlement. (Elizabeth I thought it would be improper for a woman to be head of the Church.)

  4. ray from mn says:

    Will there be a monarchy in England with any significant role to play in England in 50 years?

  5. Supertradmum says:

    The Dowager Queen Noor of Jordan gave up Christianity in order to marry the late King Hussein. She raised her own and her step-children all Muslim. I read her biography years ago.

    The monarch in Great Britain would have to raise the children Anglican in the same manner, as they would all be heirs to the throne. And, although a Catholic cannot inherit the throne, now a Catholic can marry such. What a mess, as the Catholic party would be in disobedience to Rome over the raising of the children Catholic, as would be the Anglican party.

    So, any Catholic marrying an heir to the throne would be in a compromising situation. Princess Michael of Kent, of course, was the cause of her husband, Prince Michael, giving up his succession to the throne. Their children were not raised Catholic, however, and have remained in line because they are Anglicans. Those two children are Lord Frederick Windsor, who is married, and Lady Gabriella Windsor. One can see the priorities in these marriages, and it is not Catholic teaching or Christianity, in the case of Queen Noor.

  6. Phil_NL says:


    I think it’s better to ask if the Anglican church will be around still in 50 years, I have far graver doubts about that.

  7. JonPatrick says:

    When I was Anglican I was taught that Jesus Christ was the head of the church, just as he is for Catholics.

  8. Mary Jane says:

    Just tossing the idea out there, but it might be possible for a conversion the other way around to take place…rather than the Catholic apostatizing, perhaps the monarch would convert?

    Note that I am not advocating that Catholics marry non-Catholics; it was just a thought for the discussion.

  9. Centristian says:

    Wow. These are changing times in which we live and this is quite the change. I honestly never imagined that the legislatures and governments of the nations which have the Queen as their head of state would show much proactive interest in resolving either prejudice, always supposing that it would be perpetually kicked down the corridor.

    Now I wonder if this will cast the spotlight on the matter of the monarch’s relationship with the Church of England. Will ordinary Canadians and Australians and Bahamanians, who might not have given the matter much thought before now, look upon this moment and say to themselves, “hey, wait a minute. The monarch can now marry a Catholic but a Catholic cannot be the monarch? Why not?” Will citizens of Commonwealth nations begin to take umbrage to the notion that their head of state must also be the head of a Protestant church in England? Why must the Head of State of New Zealand also head the English Church?

    Is this is the thin end of the wedge? Are the monarch’s days as “Supreme Governor of the Church” numbered? I have to think so, especially in light of this development. More and more it will be viewed, now, as a bizarre (and unjust) anachronism.

  10. Titus says:

    Hmm, did the United Kingdom amend the Act of Succession, or just the Commonwealth nations? Things would become unusual if the laws diverged.

  11. Will D. says:

    this could lead to a Catholic apostatizing or abandoning her or his duties to children.

    This has already happened. The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Phillip, was raised in the Greek Orthodox church, but converted to the C of E prior to his marriage to Princess Elizabeth.
    This change at least lets a perspective royal spouse keep his faith, rather than renouncing it. It’s a step, but only a step, in the right direction.

  12. Elizabeth M says:

    Our Lady of Walsingham pray for us! Maybe the next in line will fall madly for a very faithful Catholic who insists any children are brought up Catholic and thereby opening the first door to a new Catholic England. Funny how they make this decision days after we celebrate the 40 Holy Martyrs of England and Wales. Could their intersession have something to do with it?

  13. asperges says:

    This is an historic decision and undoes the effects of the 1688 legislation and the Glorious Revolution. It should gladden the heart of every British Catholic. It is also another probably nail in the coffin of Anglicanism. I say that without malice.

    But this is good and bad. Disestablishment has been talked about for a long time. Whether this brings it any nearer is debatable – of course it is anachronistic for the monarch to be head of the Church of England – but who is to blame for that?

    The regrettable side of disestablishment, paradoxically, is that it is another step towards secularising an already very secularised society where being “religious” is synonymous with “strange.” Believe it or not, here, unlike the US, many people’s only contact with religion is through events like royal weddings, Christmas addresses, Armistice Day services at war memorials and the odd christening, wedding or funeral. Less than 10% go to church weekly here: about 18% regard themselves as practising any kind of religion.

    Anglicanism may dissolve itself in time – and its members turn to Rome – but that is not going to happen soon. It is so amorphous in concept that it easily re-forms itself: compare the C of E now with just 50 years ago. Chalk and cheese.

    Nevertheless, we pray, “Jesus, convert this country.”

  14. Legisperitus says:

    Time to reread that book “The Realm” by… aw, nuts, who was it?

  15. terryprest says:

    Mr Cameron has also said that he wishes to legislate to alter the definition so as to allow marriage between people of the same sex, the so-called “gay marriage”
    One would think that the “extended” definition of marriage could not apply to the Royal Family as the consent of the sixteen nations who have HM the Queen as their Monarch would be required.
    In that case presumably Mr Cameron could reasonably allow the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales to have its rights respected in regard to the celebration and other matters surrounding “gay marriage” .

  16. mike cliffson says:

    Cameron: a conservative in name only.

  17. jhayes says:

    Things used to be different years ago, but my understanding is that the Catholic party to a mixed marriage now agrees only to do “all in my power” to have the children baptized and raised as Catholics:

    First of all, neither partner in a mixed marriage (between a Catholic and a baptized person of another Christian denomination) is required to sign a promise that all children will be baptized and raised Catholic.

    The Catholic partner signs two statements. (1) “I reaffirm my faith in Jesus Christ and intend to continue living that faith in the Catholic Church.” And, (2) “I promise to do all in my power to share my faith with our children by having them baptized and raised as Catholics” – a significantly different kind of promise than the one you describe.

    The non-Catholic partner signs or promises nothing. The priest who is helping the couple prepare for the marriage signs a declaration that the non-Catholic partner is aware of this affirmation and belief of the Catholic.

    The couple then needs to work together to resolve their religious differences without either of them being asked to compromise their consciences. This has all been official Catholic procedure since 1970.

    Beyond this, Catholic ecumenical directives emphasize that the church’s primary concern in such marriages is to uphold the strength and stability of the indissoluble marriage union and the family life that flows from it.

    Understandably, stability in a marriage is as a rule more easily assured when both partners share the same faith. Yet, as Pope John Paul II wrote some years ago, mixed marriages contain numerous elements that could contribute much to the marriage, particularly when both parties are faithful to their religious duties (“Familiaris Consortio,” No. 78).

  18. APX says:

    Nevertheless, we pray, “Jesus, convert this country.”
    FYI: There is an actual prayer for the conversion of the Queen and the royal family. It’s apparently supposed to be recited after the Solemn Mass on Sundays in England and Wales. I have it in my missal.

    @Fr. Z
    Think about this over a nice cup of tea from the Wyoming Carmelites
    I’d love to, but my package has still not arrived, and sadly I do not know where it is, as I can only track it while it’s in USPS’s custody.

  19. Geoffrey says:

    I wonder if this will affect the current line of succession? A few members of the Royal Family married Roman Catholics and had to renounce their rights to the throne. I wonder if they will re-acquire those rights now? (I think it’s in the line of the Dukes of Kent, I cannot recall…).

  20. jhayes says:

    @Geffrey, the Beeb article says that the changes will not be retroactive.

  21. asperges says:

    @APX: You mean “Domine, salvam fac,” I presume. We sing it always after our (EF) Sunday Masses. It prays for the Queen’s welfare, not specifically for her conversion – though that would would be nice too.

    Incidentally the inscription “Domine, salvam fac reginam nostram Victoriam,” was inscribed by A W Pugin around the face of Big Ben’s clock dials. Another little touch of Catholicism unnoticed to most passers-by.

  22. There is ‘play’ in the steering of a Triumph TR-3. There’s also ‘play’ in the steering of the Parliament. Prior to the Glorious Revolution, a precedent was set by King Charles II. He, head of the Anglican Church, married a Catholic princess of Portugal–a long-time ally of England. She was allowed to practice her faith, but not publicly. They had no issue–so no ‘issue’. Do not forget that, technically, the Anglican Church is catholic (little c). It is just in schism from Rome. Step by step, inch by inch, brick by brick. As they say: Keep Calm.

  23. Athanasius says:

    Hail Bonny prince Charlie and the REAL glorious revolution!

    There is a simple solution to the monarch being in communion with the Church of England: the Church of England coming in wholesale into the ordinariate!

  24. Tina in Ashburn says:

    When the Crown reverts to the Plantagenets, you’ll have my attention. LOL.

    Echoing the sentiment expressed by Athanasius above, yea, let the Crown go Catholic and all of England return to Rome!

    That marrying a Catholic no longer blocks succession to the throne of England is a very interesting development. But as has been noted here by Father, and other commenters, this change carries with it other innuendo and complication. Perhaps, too this introduces another segue into chaos and unbelief [we are so liberal we don’t even care if you are Catholic! be anything you want!].

    I’ve never formally studied the monarchy, but it is my understanding from what I have read that all Catholic monarchs were the head of the Church in their kingdoms. Monarchs were once crowned by the Archbishop of that country, because it was understood that power was given from above.

    Before the Reformation, nationalism as we know it today, did not exist. The Church was first, the nation secondary. Monarchs ‘rolled up’, deferred to the Pope, while they led the example of Catholicism at the highest levels [well, in the best cases, anyway]. Thus exists the long list of Kings and Queens who are saints. Therefore, for Henry VIII, and subsequent monarchs, to be head of the Church of England, isn’t odd. This modern notion of separation of religion and State existed nowhere, even in non-christian countries. Except for the “minor details” of breaking from Rome, and the archbishop reporting to the King, the structure was already in place in England, things were the same in that regard. Unfortunately, a religion based on throwing out Sacraments and the Pope and non-negotiables of right and wrong, has to fall back on creating a love of country, rather than the Church. Thus nationalism trumped religion.

    Though to young history-readers today it doesn’t cause even a ripple, when Napoleon crowned himself, taking the crown out of the hands of the Archbishop, that was HUGE. People at the time were shocked because they understood the power-grabbing-from-below, contempt-of-the-Church, the-‘State’-trumps implication. Today, in our present democratic mindset, we can’t imagine another form of government. The King? head of the Church? Yea, that was the model!

  25. Jackie L says:

    Isn’t Camilla Parker Bowles Catholic?

  26. Former Altar Boy says:

    No, Jackie, Camilla was raised Catholic and, I presume, remained so until she abandoned the One True Church when she married Charles. When word of the new law came out, I wondered whether she would return to Rome for the sake of her soul.

  27. Supertradmum says:

    Camilla was not raised Catholic, but baptized and raise Anglican. When she married, she married a Catholic-the Parker-Bowles being a Catholic family,not hers, but I have found no evidence that she herself converted, except a media note that was not backed up. I have not read a biography. As she is married and divorced, married again, (and her children married outside the Church), and the fact that she had a 25 year adulterous relationship with Charles, if she was and came back, it would be a miracle indeed. But, sadly she falls into the Princess Michael and Queen Noor category, as explained above: women who prefer earthly love and glory, giving up the Divine.Pathetic and worth some prayers…

  28. Ellen says:

    Autumn Kelly who married Princess Anne’s son Peter Phillips was raised a Catholic, but converted to the Church of England so their children could be in the succession. Maybe she’ll revert now? Princess Maxima of the Netherlands is Catholic and remained so, but is raising her children in the Dutch Reformed Faith. Prince Heinrick of Denmark and Princess Marie of Denmark both left the church and became Lutheran when they married. It’s Danish law that all members of the Royal family be Lutheran.

    The Danish royals seldom go to church and when they do, they leave early.

  29. Supertradmum says:

    The children are being raised Anglican, as I noted above in two entries, because one still cannot be Catholic and king or queen–only married to such. So, being in the line of succession means being an Anglican.

  30. John Nolan says:

    In June 1978 Paul VI intervened at the last minute to stop Prince and Princess Michael of Kent marrying according to Catholic rites after the couple made it known that any children would be raised as Anglicans. They were finally allowed a (low-key) Catholic wedding in 1983. The bar to the sovereign having a Catholic consort was a major inconvenience when royalty married royalty, since most European royal houses are Catholic, but now they marry commoners there seems little point in changing the law.

    George IV regarded his marriage as Prince of Wales to Maria Fitzherbert to have been valid in the sight of God, whatever the laws of the realm said. Cameron’s meddling with the ancient laws of primogeniture in the name of political correctness has implications beyond the royal family and is deplorable.

  31. APX says:

    @APX: You mean “Domine, salvam fac,” I presume. We sing it always after our (EF) Sunday Masses. It prays for the Queen’s welfare, not specifically for her conversion – though that would would be nice too.

    Sorry, I was under the impression that:

    Adorn her yet more with every virtue,
    remove all evil from her path,
    that with her consort, and all the royal family
    she may come at last in grace with to thee,
    who are the way, the truth, and the life

    Was actually a petition for her to return back into communion with the Catholic Church.

  32. irishgirl says:

    The Duchess of Kent converted to Catholicism in 1994, and her son Lord Nicholas Windsor (I think his title is ‘Earl of St. Andrews’) is also Catholic. In fact, he was married at St. Peter’s Basilica, and his first child was baptized in the Vatican, too.
    Ellen-how do you know that the Danish royals ‘leave church early’? Have you seen video clips of them doing that? The only pictures I’ve seen of them in church have been at family weddings and christenings.

  33. Matariel says:

    Why are we referring to Anglicanism as a “Church”? Anglicanism is an ecclesial community. They do not constitute a particular church, much less The Church (which is the Holy Roman Catholic Apostolic Church) .

  34. Gail F says:

    Wha??? That makes no sense. The only possible conclusion I can draw is one made by someone above: The English are saying, “We care so little about religion that you royals can marry whoever you want to! Head of the Church of England? SO WHAT! Marry a Catholic! No one cares about that — or anything else!” I have a hard time thinking that the monarchy will go anywhere soon, but this is just one more sign that it is a quaint vestige of a picturesque past, not anything anyone really cares about. Just like the Church of England. Pope Benedict did something very powerful on his state visit — he MADE ONE. The Church is still here, and it will remain, even if everything turns out differently (in terms of politics, wars, cultural forces, etc.) than we all expect. English culture, and probably ours in America as well, is changing so rapidly people can’t even see it. But the Church will remain.

  35. asperges says:

    APX: It’s an interesting point of view, but the prayer is not specifically written for us in Britain, so conversion doesn’t come into it: it applies to all countries with kings or queens. Versions of it have been set to music, eg by Lully and Gounod. We use the plainsong version.

    There was a sort of alternative for the US written Archbp Carroll in 1800 but I have no idea if it ever said these days.

Comments are closed.