Today, the succession to the crown bill entered Parliament for the second time in the second reading and committee stage. The second reading featured some good points from various MPs in parliament. Unfortunately, for no apparent reason, very few MPs turned up for the debate in the Commons today, we counted 21 MPs in the House!
The debate was less a debate and more a promotion of the bill. Some MPs explained how it was high time these succession laws were changed and explained how some of Britain’s best Monarchs have been Queens.
The Honourable Member for Worcester, Robin Walker explained and referred to Elizabeth I’s quote: ‘I may have the feeble body of a woman, but I have the heart and mind of a man!’. Explaining that this kind of attitude towards women is out of date, and succession laws should reflect change in attitudes.
One of the most interesting topics discussed today was the questioning of Royal Titles. Currently, it is not traditional for females to hold titles and it is not possible for the Principality Of Wales (the heir to the throne’s traditional title) and the Duchy Of Cornwall (the Monarch’s eldest son’s traditional title.
The title of Prince Of Wales can only be held by men, and their wives take the female form, Princess Of Wales. The proposal is that the heir, whatever their gender, hold the title of either Prince or Princess Of Wales.
The Duchy Of Cornwall, which is the estate automatically assumed by the Monarch’s eldest son, can also only be held by a male, though there has been no mention of the Duchy in Parliament.
There was also a debate as to whether the Monarch should have to be an Anglican rather than Catholic to reign, though they were quickly corrected as the Monarch is required to be crowned in a Church Of England ceremony. The thought of dismissing Anglicanism from the Monarchy was quickly dispelled.
There was also a mention of the Sovereign’s title of Duke Of Lancaster and its Duchy. If the succession laws were changed for the Monarchy of Britain, yet not for the Duchy. Someone else (the younger son) could still unintentionally inherit the Duchy whilst the Crown goes to the elder female child. An unintended consequence of this bill having missed a few points.
The committee questioned why the number ‘6’ was used for clause 3 to determine how many people must seek permission from the Sovereign to marry, as it is not a practical number. Shortly later, the Cabinet Minister explained that this was because the line of succession had never gotten past 6 places succeeding to the throne.
The committee stage has now also completed. No part of the bill was removed, though one amendment was made to clarify section 2 of the bill, regarding the marriage of Royals to Roman Catholics whilst allowing them to stay in the line of succession.
To summarise and clarify what each section is for, here is a short list with a summary of each clause.
Clause 1: Clause 1 removes the gender discrimination in the line of succession and grants equal rights to the succession to the British Crown for women.
Clause 2: Clause 2 removes the ban on royals marrying Roman Catholics. This is retrospective so royals who have married Catholics will regain their place in line to the throne once the bill is passed. (Inc. Prince Michael Of Kent).
Clause 3: Clause 3 removes the requirement for descendants of George II to ask the Monarch’s permission to marry. Because of the nature of the original Royal Marriages act 1772, descendants include those who are now distantly related to the royal family and it could mean that hundreds of people who haven’t obtained permission from the Monarch to marry, have void marriages. This clause restricts requirement for the Sovereign’s permission to marry to the first 6-in-line to the throne.
Clause 4: Clause 4 makes ‘consequential amendments’, including to union acts pertaining to England and Scotland.
Clause 5: Clause 5 explains that the powers of the bill will come into power at different stages, as the Lord President of the Council will decide.