Friday, 4 January 2013
Succession to the Crown Bill
Law & Religion UK has published an article by Dr Bob Morris of the UCL Constitution Unit: Succession to the Crown Bill: some reflections. This is of Anglican interest as the Monarch is also the Supreme Governor of the Church of England.
Posted by Peter Owen on
Friday, 4 January 2013 at 9:45am GMT
The Succession to the Crown Bill aims to achieve three things:
- primogeniture gender neutrality;
- removal of marriage to Roman Catholics as a disqualification for succession; and
- limitation to the first six in line to the throne of the sovereign approval requirement for proposed marriages.
The content of the proposals is admirably explained in the relevant House of Commons Library research paper RP12/81.
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Church of England
Partially hidden in this is the most important point number two, 'the removal of marriage to Roman Catholics as a disqualification for succession'.
What at first sight seems a benign recognition of basic human rights will eventually lead to the greatest prize for the Roman Catholic Church for five centuries, the regaining of the British/English crown.
The Roman Catholic Church will insist that any Roman Catholic spouse of a monarch or monarch in waiting will bring up their offspring as Roman Catholics ... ultimately, despite the fact that the reigning monarch currently has to be an Anglican supreme governor of the Church of England, by simple social and familial pressure the crown will pass back to Rome.
It's a kind of unintended Trojan horse.
"despite the fact that the reigning monarch currently has to be an Anglican supreme governor of the Church of England, by simple social and familial pressure the crown will pass back to Rome"
But a practising Roman Catholic would still be barred from the Crown.
And actually, what would be the consequence of an RC King or Queen? As the article points out, the Monarch's governance of the CofE is purely ceremonial now.
And here I thought this act was merely bringing the monarchy into the Twentieth Century (yes, I know what year it is), and removing language that may have seemed necessary at the time, but now looks like odious discrimination.
OK, I'm not English and not Christian, but as Alastair Newman points out, what real consequences, if any, could possibly come out of a Roman Catholic monarch?
The monarch of England has enormous theoretical power, still. But if s/he tried to exercise some of those powers, s/he probably be rudely rebuffed by Parliament.
I seriously doubt a future monarch would ever travel to Vatican City and kneel in a snowbank for hours asking for the Pope's forgiveness.
Assuming the Crown passes to those currently expected to wear it, the first person who may possibly be affected by the amendment to the 'marriage to a Roman Catholic' rule would be a child of the as yet unborn child of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. An issue deferred for maybe 90-100 years. Is establishment really going to last that long?
Most of this Roman Catholic stuff is purely academic. The few royals who have married Roman Catholics (such as Prince Michael of Kent) will simply re-assume their place in line to the throne but all are far down the list. Nothing in the Bill changes the position that the Monarch cannot be a Roman Catholic. It would therefore not be open to the RC spouse of a Monarch to seek to bring up the children of the marriage as Roman Catholics without jeopardising the right of the eldest child (who was therefore next in line after, presumably, his father) to succeed to the throne in the future.
"by simple social and familial pressure the crown will pass back to Rome"
...because that's been SO successful in keeping all Roman Catholics, Roman Catholic! O_o
My New Year's wish (1)the Harper Gov't will be defeated and (2) Canada will become a republic. We love Queen Elizabeth as a person of her generation, but after that, really?
If I'm reading this correctly, the proposed changes would alter the current list, moving the Princess Royal and her children and grandchildren up on the list, ahead of the Princes Andrew and Edward and their children. Do I have the rights of that?
Also, the specific limit of the requirement for royal consent for royal marriages to the first six in line creates the minor absurdity that Charles, William, Henry (Harry), Anne, Mr. Peter Phillips and his elder daughter Savannah, but not to Mr. Phillips's younger daughter Isla, nor to his sister. Might it not have made more sense to set the requirement for a defined generation - ie the children and grandchildren of the current and immediately previous monarch, or something like that. Surely that would always cover everyone who would be in any danger of ever inheriting.
Of course, as any sensible Jacobite knows, this is all puffery. The rightful King lives secure in his castle in Munich, with the succession in all likelihiid to end up with the Crown Princess of Leichtenstein within the next twenty years.
The Bill, if enacted, does not alter the line of succession for anyone born before October 2011. In particular, therefore, it does not move the Princess Royal and her children and existing grandchildren -- nor indeed anyone else -- up the list. The list is frozen as it was in October 2011, and people will only move up as a result of deaths of people higher up the list (or their personal adherence to the See of Rome); people will move down the list as a result of births to people higher up the list.
The change to equal primogeniture only applies to those born after the Commonwealth HoG Conference in October 2011.
And I do wish that the parliamentary drafters knew the difference between sex and gender. This is nothing to do with *gender*; it's to do with removing a discrimination on the grounds of *sex*.
"My New Year's wish ... (2) Canada will become a republic."
That's funny - my New Year's wish is that the United States would become a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system. Maybe we could work out a swap.
The combination of Head of State and Head of Government is a terrible idea, and is responsible for not a little of the dysfunctional government of the United States (the rest being the result of our legislative system, which is wed to the two party system).
If in September of 2001 we had had someone other than the President for the nation to look to as a symbol of unity, we might have been able to avoid the last 12 years of American military adventurism. Symbolism is much more important than contemporary culture is willing to admit, and so we treat it as a minor role of the Executive. It's very shortsighted, and we end up giving much more real power to the Head of Government than ought to be the case under a democracy.
The monarchy serves the Commonwealth realms much better than the presidential system serves the US and those countries that have copied our system. Adopting a system of gender-neutral primogeniture and the prohibition of Roman Catholic consorts will only improve that service.
"And I do wish that the parliamentary drafters knew the difference between sex and gender."
You're making an unwarranted assumption. Declining to adopt the distinction between sex and gender is not necessarily the result of ignorance of the arguments for that distinction.