New laws to ensure Royal baby becomes monarch to be rushed through Parliament A week after Duchess of Cornwall left hospital, minister publish BillNick Clegg says legislation will be passed 'as wuickly as we can'Commonwealth countries have agreed changes to line of succession rulesThe law of primogeniture had once meant boys leapfrogged older sistersNew baby would be in third place by becoming more important than Harry
16:30 GMT, 13 December 2012
Law changes to make sure Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's first baby can succeed to the throne are to be rushed through parliament.
MPs will meet on Monday to start rewriting 660-year-old laws to ensure that if the royal couple have a girl she will become Queen, even if she has a young brother.
Ministers are to prioritise the law change with the urgency usually reserved for anti-terror laws.
Just a week after the Duchess of Cambridge left the King Edward VII hospital, ministers published new legislation to ensure their son or daughter becomes monarch
The Succession to the Crown Bill will stop men leapfrogging an older woman in line to the throne.
It will also scrap the ban on anyone in line to the throne marrying a Roman Catholic.
Ministers had insisted that a deal agreed by Commonwealth countries to change the succession rules last year would be backdated, so there was no need to rush legislation.
But barely a week after Kate and William announced they were expecting their first child, the government has published legislation which it hopes to rush through before Christmas.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: ‘This Bill will bring to an end centuries of discrimination against women so that the first born is next in line to the throne, regardless of whether they’re a boy or a girl.
‘I’m delighted that all of the Queen’s realms have agreed to this historic piece of legislation, that will enact in law what we agreed back in 2011 – that if the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have a baby girl, she can one day be our Queen even if she has younger brothers.
‘We’re pressing ahead with this as quickly as we can – it’s clearly something the entire country can get behind towards the close of this momentous Jubilee year.’
The four-page Bill states that in future ‘succession to the Crown not to depend on gender’ and rewrites the Treason Act 1351 to replace ‘first son and heir’ to mean ‘eldest child and heir’. Other laws affected include the Bill of Rights, Act of Settlement and the Regency Act 1937.
The baby will be third in line to the throne regardless of gender after Prime Minister David Cameron agreed a deal with other Commonwealth countries to change the rules on the royal line of succession which means male heirs will no longer be given priority.
This means that in the 15 other countries where the Queen is head of state the rules must be changed.
It had been feared there could be a constitutional crisis if the Royal couple had a baby girl before the law was changed.
But today's announcement that the
Duchess of Cambridge is expecting the couple's first child – third in line to the throne – has come after the deal was agreed.
October 2011, David Cameron announced that the 16 Commonwealth
countries where the Queen is head of state had agreed to give female
royals the same rights of succession as their brothers.
simply, if the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were to have a little
girl, that girl would one day be our queen,' Mr Cameron said.
the ancient rules of male primogeniture, first born royal daughters in
direct line to the throne were leapfrogged by their younger male
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the legislation would be passed 'as quickly as we can'
The principle was criticised and widely viewed as outdated and discriminatory.
The current law of male primogeniture only allows Elizabeth II to be queen because she did not have any brothers.
Moves towards constitutional change gathered pace in the wake of the Duke and Duchess’s wedding in April 2011 in anticipation they would produce an offspring.
Mr Cameron had previously warned it would take time due to on-going negotiations with the Commonwealth countries where the Queen is also head of state, but at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in October 2011 he confirmed the changes would go ahead.
Downing Street said any attempt to alter the law would be a 'difficult and complex matter', with parallel legislation needed in all such Commonwealth nations.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's
first child will push Prince Harry into fourth place in the line of
succession to the throne – even if they have a girl.
Prince William and Kate's child would move into third place, become more important than Harry and not be subject to the centuries-old law of primogeniture, which puts male heirs ahead of women.
He or she will leapfrog Harry by being be the first born of first-in-line Prince Charles's first son.
It is anticipated that Harry and
Pippa Middleton could be asked to be the child's godparents, if the
royal couple follow the tradition appointing the best man and maid of
honour from their wedding.
Ministers have made clear the changes will apply from October 28, 2011 – the date of the Commonwealth summit where the countries agreed the plans.
So close: The Duchess of Cambridge, (centre), Prince William (right) and Prince Harry (left) wave as they pass the Houses of Parliament during the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant in June
The change needs to be legislated for
in the Commonwealth nations of the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada,
Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Grenada, Belize, St
Christopher and Nevis, St Lucia, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, St
Vincent and the Grenadines and Papua New Guinea. But this is regarded as assured.