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Equality for Princesses Risks Church Link, U.K. Lawmakers Say

December 08, 2011

Dec. 7 (Bloomberg) -- David Cameron’s plan to end discrimination against princesses and Catholics in the British royal family risks opening questions about other traditions, including the status of the Church of England, a panel of lawmakers concluded.

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. Spurred on by the wedding of Prince William this year, Cameron agreed the law needed to be changed.

In a report published today, Parliament’s Political and Constitutional Reform Committee welcomed what it called the “modest” proposals. Nevertheless, it warned that the plan raises questions about how other hereditary noble titles are passed between the generations and whether the monarch should continue to be the head of the Church of England.

It pointed out that a Catholic married to the monarch would usually be expected to promise to raise their children as Catholics, excluding them from the line of succession under rules that Cameron isn’t proposing to change.

“We welcome the proposal that would allow a member of the royal family to marry a Roman Catholic without losing their place in the line of succession,” the committee said. “The proposal does, however, raise questions about the future role of the Crown in the Church of England.”

--Editors: Andrew Atkinson, Fergal O’Brien

To contact the reporter on this story: Robert Hutton in London at

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

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