Saturday, October 29, 2011

The rules are changing

It’s not every day one can say this: The British monarchy is about to undergo historic change. Well, it is.

British Prime Minister, David Cameron, announced at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Perth that support had been gained to allow a change in royal succession. Under current rules, a male child will ascend the throne, regardless of birth order. So, if a monarch had a daughter first, and then a son, the son would become king.

Currently, Price Charles is the heir to the throne and firstborn, but his younger sister, Anne, is ranked lower in royal succession than their younger brothers, Andrew and Edward. That’s just silly.

So, Britain looked at fixing that old-fashioned rule to allow the first-born child—male or female—to ascend the throne. That’s all well and good, but is it any of New Zealand’s business?

Well, yes, technically.

New Zealand is one of 16 nations for which Queen Elizabeth is head of state. These nations, known as the Commonwealth Realm, had to approve the change in law before it could be adopted. They’ve now all done so.

When this was first proposed, I think the attitude of most Kiwis was, “who cares?” In reality, it’’s none of of our business who ascends to the British throne, but she’s also Queen of New Zealand (and has a New Zealand Royal Standard used here; it’s pictured at the top of this post), and this is why it’s technically New Zealand’s business.

I’m not sure that New Zealand will remain a monarchy long enough for any of this to matter, but maybe it’ll still matter technically,

Another change will be to allow the heir to the throne to marry a Roman Catholic. Until now, they could marry someone of any faith except a Catholic. However, they still can’t BE a Catholic, so some level of prejudice remains.

I thought it was funny that Cameron said, "The idea 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." Given Cameron’s support for marriage equality, can we assume he’d support a future monarch marrying someone of the same gender?

Maybe that is a change too far—for now.


Roger Owen Green said...

As I understand it, this wouldn't affect Anne's lower standing ex post facto, yes? It would matter if Will and Kate had an older daughter and younger son.

Arthur Schenck said...

That's what I understood, too, but Anne's lower ranking is kind of irrelevant now, anyway, because if anything happened to Charles, Will is next in line.