Birth order, not sex, will now dictate ascension to the British throne. Centuries of tradition were reversed today with the approval of new succession rules: the British monarch’s first-born child will ascend the throne, regardless of gender. Under current laws, the immediate heir is the first-born son of the monarch.
The new succession rules, as well as the lifting of the ban on monarchs marrying Roman Catholics, were approved unanimously by leaders of the 16 Commonwealth countries that have Queen Elizabeth II as their head of state. The individual governments of the countries (Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Papua New Guinea, St. Christopher and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Tuvalu, Barbados, Grenada, Solomon Islands, St. Lucia and the Bahamas) must still approve the changes.
"The idea that a younger son should become monarch instead of an elder daughter simply because he is a man, or that a future monarch can marry someone of any faith except a Catholic — this way of thinking is at odds with the modern countries that we have become," British Prime Minister David Cameron told reporters in Perth, Australia, on the first day of a biennial meeting of 53 Commonwealth leaders.
The British government began reviewing the rules of royal succession before Prince William married commoner Kate Middleton (now formally known as Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge) in April, so that if their first child is a girl, she could ascend the throne. Prince William is second in line to the throne after his father, Prince Charles.
Prime Minister Cameron explained: "Put simply, if the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were to have a little girl, that girl would one day be our queen."
What do you think of these historic changes to royal tradition?