Bloomberg News

U.K. Sees Former Colonies Backing Equality for Princesses Plan

October 21, 2011

Oct. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Foreign Office minister David Howell said he expects a British proposal to give royal daughters the same rights to the throne as their brothers will be adopted at a summit of Commonwealth leaders next week.

Current laws, including the 1700 Act of Settlement, give male heirs precedence over their older sisters. The act also excludes Roman Catholics or anyone married to a Roman Catholic from becoming king or queen. For three decades, ministers have resisted changing the law to end the discrimination on the grounds that it’s too complicated and would need the agreement of the other countries of which Queen Elizabeth II is monarch.

After Prince William, the second in line to the throne, married Kate Middleton in April, Prime Minister David Cameron put changing the rules onto the agenda for the Commonwealth Heads of Government summit in Perth, Australia, next week.

“It will be approved in the CHOGM in Perth,” Howell told reporters in London today. “It is agreed that this is the right way to go forward and processes should be set in motion, legislative or otherwise, for it to happen.

Cameron proposed the change in a letter to counterparts in 15 former colonies last week. He also proposed a change in the law that says that descendents of King George II, who reigned from 1727 to 1760, can only marry with the permission of the monarch. The law would change to say that only the first six in line to the throne would need permission, the premier’s spokesman, Steve Field, told reporters on Oct. 12.

Eleven attempts since 1981 to change the laws governing the royal succession have failed through lack of government support. A twelfth bill put forward by Labour lawmaker Keith Vaz is currently before Parliament.

During a 1998 attempt to alter the law, Gareth Williams, a member of Tony Blair’s government, said the queen had told ministers she would have no objection to changes that would give female heirs equal rights.

News and Information: Top U.K. stories: TOPB <GO> Stories on Britain’s royal family: NI BRITROYAL <GO> Stories on U.K. politics: TNI POL UK <GO>

--Editors: Andrew Atkinson, Craig Stirling

To contact the reporter on this story: Gonzalo Vina in London at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at

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