British royal succession laws to change


In this handout image, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge - better known as William and Kate - pose for the official tour portrait for their trip to Canada and California in the Garden's of Clarence House on June 3, 2011 in London. England. The newly married royal couple will be undertaking their first official joint tour to Canada and California from June 30. William and Kate's trip will begin with Canada Celebrations in Ottawa and include highlights such as the Calgary Stampede and a visit to Yellowknife.


Chris Jackson for St. James's Palace

British royal succession laws will allow daughters of any future monarch — most pressingly, the newlywed Prince William and Kate Middleton — to have equal rights to the throne as sons, under changes approved by Commonwealth leaders.

The leaders of 16 Commonwealth countries agreed on Friday to change succession laws, while at a summit in Perth, Australia, BBC News reports.

This means that a first-born daughter of the newlywed Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, previously known as William and Kate, would take precedence over her younger brothers.

The old succession laws, dating back to the 17th century, said that the monarch's first-born son is the heir to the throne. Only if there are no sons would the crown be passed to the monarch's eldest daughter, as in the case of the Queen Elizabeth II. If she had had a brother, she would not have become queen. 

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British Prime Minister David Cameron said the old succession laws were "at odds with the modern countries that we have become," the BBC reports.

"Put simply, if the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were to have a little girl, that girl would one day be our queen," he said.

The Guardian reports that Cameron will introduce legislation before the next general election. Officials say the changes will apply even if a child is born before the legislation is passed, according to the Guardian.

Commonwealth leaders from the countries were the Queen is the official head of state, including Canada and Australia, also lifted a ban on the British monarch being married to a Roman Catholic, the BBC says.

"The idea that a younger son should become monarch instead of an elder daughter simply because he’s 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’ve all become," Cameron said in a speech, the Los Angeles Times reports.

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