Female Succession To The British Throne Will Have To Wait

by July 29, 2013
filed under Activism


On July 22, 2013 Prince William’s, wife Kate Middleton, gave birth to a healthy baby boy at 4:24 pm at Saint Mary’s Hospital in London. The baby weighed 8lbs and 6oz. and was named George Alexander Louis a day or so later. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are waiting for their new nursery to be finished inside Kensington Palace in their apartment before moving in. George, who will become the Prince of Cambridge, will be the first prince of Cambridge in 194 years.

Prince Charles is presently heir to the British throne and he will only become king when Queen Elizabeth the II abdicates, becomes ill or dies. The heir to the throne is always called the Prince of Wales, a title introduced by King Edward in 1301 after the capture of Wales. Prince Charles has the choice to abdicate the throne should he become King and Prince William will then become King to the English throne.

Succession in Britain is governed by the Act of Union of 1800, which restates the Act of Settlement from 1701 and the Bill of Rights from 1689. Only Protestant heirs of Princess Sophia, granddaughter of James I, may succeed to the British throne. No Catholics are allowed to be King or Queen or those who marry a Catholic, or those who are born out of wedlock are allowed to be King or Queen. However, there have been recent changes to succession in Britain.

Since the days of yore, primogeniture has been the reigning method for royal succession meaning that the eldest boy of a royal couple will become King and inherit all lands, property, and titles of the King. This was a benefit of primogeniture that land, property, and titles remained in the family. In an agriculture society breaking up land into smaller and smaller pieces meant that the immediate family could not be supported because the land would be divvied out to more and more extended family. In most cases, lands and titles are still shared with the children of Kings and Queens.

It used to be that a female would only become Queen if she had no brothers, such as in the case of Queen Elizabeth II. Kate’s baby was the first baby who had the chance to be 3rd in line to the throne if the baby was a girl, despite the fact that the baby may have brothers. This change came about in 2011 when all 16 leaders of the British Common Wealth met in Perth, Australia to discuss succession to the British throne. It was voted unanimously to change primogeniture so that a first born female could inherit the throne as well the new King is allowed to be married to a Catholic and assume the throne. Because the King or Queen of the British throne is also the head of the English Church he or she still has to be Anglican.


Although many people of Britain and its commonwealth countries hoped for a female heir, little George was born putting himself in line as the 3rd heir to the British throne. While Queen Elizabeth II and some of her predecessor’s such as Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth have been great examples of strong female rulers we can only hope that in the future of today’s modern world, a female will one day inherit the throne. This will not only end primogeniture but also lead the way for women’s rights and freedoms. Still we must remember that the existence of a Royal family in today’s world is a difficult balance between what is traditional and what the modern British people want from their King or Queen in the future.

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