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Nick Clegg was accused of ‘opening a Royal Pandora’s Box’ last night over plans to change the laws of succession to the throne.

By Jason Groves, Mailonline

Nick Clegg was accused of ‘opening a Royal Pandora’s Box’ last night over plans to change the laws of succession to the throne.

The Deputy Prime Minister told the Commons that rules giving precedence to men and the ban on heirs marrying Roman Catholics belonged to a ‘bygone era’.

The change will mean that if the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s first child, due in July, is a girl, she would ascend the throne even if she had brothers.

But MPs said the Succession to the Crown Bill was being ‘rushed’ through Parliament.

Tory MP Nicholas Soames, a close friend of Prince Charles, said the proposals came from the ‘good wheeze school of Government’ and had not been properly thought through.

Mr Soames, a grandson of Sir Winston Churchill, warned of the ‘unwanted, unintended consequences that often flow from tinkering with legislation of this type and could damage the crucial relationship between church and state’.

He suggested removing the Catholic marriage ban might make it more likely that a Catholic would eventually succeed to the throne – sparking a constitutional crisis. This fear is also said to be shared by Prince Charles.

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