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The Coalition rides roughshod over the Constitution

By Adrian Hilton, Mailonline

[...]  The principal hurdle would be the constitutional requirement for members of the Royal Family who wish to keep their place in the succession to be married in accordance with the rites of the Church of England in a service performed by Anglican clergy under either a Special or Common Licence. Since the Coalition is proposing specifically to prohibit the Church of England from performing same-sex marriage services, this would be an obvious bar to an openly gay king or lesbian queen marrying their partner and having that partner recognised as consort.

And that’s before we enter then the debate over the hereditary rights of their children – conceived either by artificial insemination or surrogacy, or (breaking the ancient bloodline) by adoption – to accede to the throne. That’s the problem with the drive for absolute equality – there’s no logical end to it. Once you replace male primogeniture with gender neutrality, heterosexuality with pan-sexuality, and Protestant Christianity with a secularised mush of multi-faith spirituality, you’re left with a cult of modern selfhood in which accession to the Crown is no more important than arguing over who takes the rubbish out or picks the kids up from school.

The curious thing is that the sexuality of the heir to the throne isn’t likely to present any problems for about the next 30 years – by which time same-sex marriage may well have determined (or hastened) the course of disestablishment. And the faith of the future spouse of the first-born of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge is also, quite literally, an equally-distant point of theological conjecture. Parliament could have legislated on both at leisure, debating and reflecting on the rather serious constitutional implications of amending the Act of Settlement (not least to seven other acts, including the increasingly fragile Act of Union 1707).

But the Prime Minister feels the need to dispense with Burkean incrementalism and legislate in haste to ensure that the new royal baby will accede to the throne irrespective of gender because, as Mark Harper MP (former Minister for Political and Constitutional Reform) explains, male primogeniture ‘does not reflect the values we hold today as a society’. So, in the course of just one frenzied day, the House of Commons will surgically excise from the British Constitution ‘..or marries a Papist’, without any consideration at all of the succeeding clause by which ‘in all and every such Case and Cases the People of these Realms shall be and are thereby absolved of their Allegiance (to the Crown)’.

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