Progress in the United Kingdom

After a mere 300 years, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland has found the time to modernise the laws on royal succession:

  1. Girls born into the royal family will no longer need to cede the throne to their younger brothers. Until now, it was always the eldest son that ascended the throne; even older sisters missed out as long as there was one male, regardless of his age. The current Queen Elizabeth II could only become queen because she didn’t have any brother(s).
  2. The king or the queen may even marry a Catholic in future. Until now, such a marriage would have disqualified that particular royal from the succession.

If you are now overwhelmed in the light of so much modernisation, equality and progress, I will have to dampen the joy a bit:

“With these sons, you HAVE to stick to the throne as long as possible.”

  • The new rules won’t be relevant for the foreseeable future because Queen ElizabethII’s first child is a son, Prince Charles, who again had only sons, Princes William and Harry. For the next two generations (which based on the reign of the current queen could be 100 years) no woman will become head of state. Only if Prince William and his wife will have a girl as their first child will these rules become relevant.
  • Similarly, nobody in the current line of succession has dared to marry a Catholic.
  • Furthermore, the lifting of the ban of Catholics only pertains to the spouse of the king or queen. The monarch himself still must not be Catholic. He or she also must not be a Jew, a Muslim, a Mormon or in fact anything else than an Anglican Christian, because the British monarch is also the head of the Anglican church. Having a state religion already sounds far less modern.
  • These cosmetic changes cannot hide the fact that we still have an unelected head of state, who reaches this positionexclusively by virtue of his birth, irrespective of any (lacking) qualifications.

“That’s not what I had in mind.”

Princesses being able to become rulers without democratic legitimation, is no reason to celebrate. Especially not in 2011 and in a country that still doesn’t have a codified constitution.

(Es gibt eine deutsche Version dieses Artikels.)

About Andreas Moser

Travelling the world and writing about it. I have degrees in law and philosophy, but I'd much rather be a writer, a spy or a hobo.
This entry was posted in Law, Politics, UK and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Progress in the United Kingdom

  1. I think you’v made substantially the same points as I made on my blog. It is true that in terms of the personality of the monarch, nothing is likely to change for many decades as the next two successors (Charles III and William V) are already known. But in terms of statements of gender equality and partial religious equality, the reforms have immediate resonance. As the monarch also heads the peerage, change should also follow there – more duchesses and countesses. As I hope we will soon dump the remaining hereditary peers out of the House of Lords, this would have no political effect but again would have some social benefit. Though it would rather undermine the whole underlying plot of Downton Abbey!

  2. John Erickson says:

    Can you believe the BBC wasted 20 minutes of a one-hour newscast on this the day they announced it? I’m both an Anglophile and a supporter of the Royal Family (for what little value my support delivers), any my reactions what basically, “So?”. With all the economic problems in Britain and in the EU, this doesn’t really strike me as a good value for the effort. Actually, the whole effort seems a waste – better to put the time into better banking regulations, or figuring out how to hold the EU together when it keeps taking on countries with less-than-sterling finances.

  3. itesoridiamleta says:

    I’m smiling like the Queen :P

  4. Radu says:

    I think that UK had good queens and kings for very long now.
    I am from Romania, and an elected President isn’t that good all of the time. [ because people tend to make decision with their stomach and not their had ]. And also, because the politics of power that are involved with the elections are not in the people best interest.
    These reforms of the UK royal succession I think are done exactly at the right time. Because they seem to have no immediate effect, they are easily accepted.
    If they would had an effect for the next King, the public feedback would have been much more negative. [ they would have said they are bending the law to fit their needs ;) ].
    This way, it’s just reforms :).

    • But you don’t really suggest that you and Romania were better off when you had the unelected president Nicolae Ceaușescu?

      If you argue that people are not qualified to vote, who chooses the king then? And is that person/committee qualified? How do we know?

  5. Pingback: Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II | The Happy Hermit – Andreas Moser's Blog

  6. Pingback: Fortschritt in Großbritannien | Mosereien

  7. You are a very clever person!

  8. Pingback: This is Britain: “Panem et circenses” | The Happy Hermit

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