By Julian Mann, God & Politics in the UK
By Julian Mann, God & Politics in the UK
By Richard Palmer, Daily Express
BUCKINGHAM Palace has listed two Roman Catholics in the line of succession in apparent contravention of the law.
By Dylan Mattews, Washington Post (Hat Tip: David Lindsay)
That constraint is not present for presidents. And sure enough, presidents meddle in the affairs of the state with greater regularity than do monarchs.
By Melanie Hall, Telegraph
A failure by Commonwealth states to change the primogeniture rule could lead to a first-born daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge becoming monarch in the UK – but a later son being king in other countries.
Many Commonwealth countries have failed to agree to the new law, which would allow a first-born daughter of Kate and William becoming the monarch even if they later have a son.
Without this agreement, a situation could arise where a first-born daughter becomes queen in Britain and some Commonwealth realms but, in countries where the law has not been given assent, a younger brother becomes king – creating rival monarchs.
To avoid the prospect of Britain having different sovereigns in different countries, the Succession to the Crown Act has to be accepted in each of the 15 Commonwealth realms where the Queen is head of state. But just three of the 15 have so far given assent.
The delay to the new rules, championed by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, has caused such concern that Lord Tankerness, a member of the House of Lords and a barrister, was sent in May on a tour of some of the realms to urge them to bring in the change and offer advice on how they might do so.
The act will come into force only once the law is altered, but it will be backdated to include any children born after October 2011, the date when Commonwealth leaders first agreed to end the primogeniture rule.
By Philippe Lagassé, Ottawa Citizen
By Cole Moreton, Telegraph
Britain has changed dramatically since the Queen was crowned in 1953. Cole Moreton reports on the Church’s plans to update the ceremony
There are some things you just don’t talk about, and the crowning of the next king is one of them. It would be “impolite” to start planning a coronation while the existing monarch is still alive, I was told last week by one of those who may be involved when the time comes. Quite right, too. As the Queen prepares to celebrate the 60th anniversary of her Coronation on June 2 1953, it is to be hoped that she will go on and on. But that’s not to say that those concerned have neglected to think about what might come next.
The Sunday Telegraph has learned of a major shift in attitude within the leadership of the Church, towards allowing the representatives of other faiths to participate in a coronation service for the first time. This would be a dramatic break with tradition, as the coronation has been an exclusively Christian event for 1,000 years. In the past, any such move was strongly opposed by the Church of England. There is now, however, a recognition that the next coronation will have to reflect the spiritual diversity of modern Britain in some way.
The ethnic and cultural make-up of the country has changed greatly since 1953, when the ceremony reflected the long-established notion of Britain as a nation under one God. Sixty years later, Her Majesty reigns over a nation with many gods. There are still 33 million people who call themselves Christian (including Roman Catholics, who were not represented in the service in 1953). There are also 2.7 million Muslims, 817,000 Hindus and 263,000 Jews, and many others.
In view of this, The Sunday Telegraph understands that Church leaders have accepted the need to be “hospitable” to other faiths within the service. They believe this will have to happen, although it must be done very carefully.
By Daniel A Willis, Yahoo News
Now that the Rules for the Succession to the Throne Are Changing, Who Is in and Who is Out?
The much lauded bill changing the rules of succession to the British Throne is now on its way to the Queen for her signature. Headlines have outlined the basic changes: brothers will no longer have seniority over sisters, only the first few people in line to the Throne have to have the Queen's (or King's) permission to marry, and people will no longer be excluded from the succession if they marry a Catholic.
By Carolyn Moynihan, MercatorNet
When you mess with fundamental aspects of human biology and society you simply cannot predict all the consequences. However, the British may be better at this than other nations.
Here’s a good piece of lateral thinking on gay marriage that came up in a British House of Lords debate on the royal succession — legislation designed to end preference for the eldest son and allow a daughter to be first in line for the throne.
What if, said Lord True, a Conservative peer who is not opposed to gay marriage,
“What happens if we have a lesbian queen in a same-sex marriage who conceives using an egg implanted with donor sperm? The law should be clear, but this is a question that has not been thought through in the Bill.
Already British law says that only an “heir to the body” can succeed to the throne. The phrase, dating from the 18th century, was intended to mean direct biological descendants of the monarch. But today’s tinkering with the beginnings of life and parenthood mean this common law position on the succession could be challenged in future, Lord True pointed out. The succession law should clear up any doubt on the point, he said.
Section of submission from Mr Michael Hobbis
The Archbishop of Canterbury. "Will you to the utmost of your power maintain the Laws of God and the true profession of the Gospel? Will you to the utmost of your power maintain in the United Kingdom the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law? Will you maintain and preserve inviolably the settlement of the Church of England, and the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government thereof, as by law established in England? And will you preserve unto the Bishops and Clergy of England, and to the Churches there committed to their charge, all such rights and privileges, as by law do or shall appertain to them or any of them?"Queen. "All this I promise to do".
By Bob Morris, Constitution Unit Blog
As the bill goes to the Lords, it might be useful to reflect further on the detail of what was said in the Commons debates on 22 and 28 January about the place of religious tests in our constitution.
Of the three tests, two – ineligibility of Catholic believers and those married to Catholics – are directed explicitly at Catholics and one – the requirement to be ‘in communion with’ the Church of England – excludes Catholics and all others unable to satisfy the requirement. The bill would abolish only the second of the three tests.
The proceedings on 28 January were dominated by the attempt of Jacob Rees-Mogg to remove the remaining tests:
‘As the discrimination on the grounds of sex is no longer necessary, or can no longer be argued for logically, nor can exclusions on the grounds of religion.’ [Hansard, Commons, 29 January 2013, col. 697]
Stressing that he was not opposed to church establishment per se, he proposed a device which, he claimed, would permit a Catholic to succeed without challenging the sovereign’s current roles in respect of the Church of England. The device turned on using the Regency Acts to identify a Protestant who could assume the sovereign’s duties much as Catholic and other non-Anglican cabinet ministers relinquish any Anglican related duties to Anglican colleagues during their term of office. Whilst the device was technically inadequate and imperfect, it gave MPs an opportunity to reflect on the fact that the bill fell short of dealing with the other remaining disqualifications affecting Catholics and others.
Understandably, this discussion – as on 22 January in a very thin House – was dominated by Catholics. Interestingly, they appear to have felt obliged simultaneously to object to the disqualifications and declare something like reverence for Anglicanism – the latter position slipping slightly only once (col. 708) when the alleged elasticity of Anglican’s demands on adherents was naughtily raised. Loyalty to the monarchy was also stressed, as if that were nowadays still in question for Catholics. Jacob Rees-Mogg pressed the matter to a division and lost by three to one.
by Simon Heffer, Mailonline
Lady D'Souza, the Speaker of the House of Lords, is outraged by the prospect of another 50 peers being created – possibly placemen to ensure Mr Cameron's same-sex marriage bill is not derailed.
She describes the existing 810-strong chamber as 'ridiculous' and its members as 'unruly'. The vital revising role of the Lords cannot be properly performed in such an environment. If the Lords can't be reformed it must be cut – which would also save money.
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)’.
By Benjamin Harris-Quinney, from The Commentator, December 2012
This week's news that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting a child has been greeted with an international media storm consummate with the world's most famous couple, and such febrile interest was always going to be the reaction to such significant news from Kensington Palace.
By Frank Cranmer, Law & Religion UK
From This is Somerset
West Country MP Jacob Rees-Mogg launched a scathing attack yesterday on new laws to modernise the rules of succession.
The North East Somerset Tory told the House of Commons that major constitutional changes were being rushed through the House with just two days for debate.
[...] Mr Rees-Mogg said the Bill was being “treated as if it was terrorism legislation” and it was an “insult to the nation and to our sovereign and indeed to Parliament”. He said: “We need time to consider constitutional issues properly because they have complex knock-on effects and their phraseology is crucial to how the Crown might pass in future, and if mistakes are made now we could discover that we end up with consequences that we do not want. What is being proposed is that a Catholic may marry an heir to the throne, but may not then maintain the succession by bringing up a child of that marriage as a Catholic. Now the reason I object to this is that it is an attack on the teaching of the Catholic Church.”
The Prince of Wales has reportedly expressed concerns about the Bill and his friend, Tory MP Nicholas Soames, 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, as well as peerage law and quite possibly interfere with accepted conventions and laws reaching back down the times”.
Mr Soames said the Government was acting “out of consideration… of political correctness on one hand and the European Convention on Human Rights on the other.”
by David Lindsay
The floundering David Cameron is rushing through both Houses in a mere two days his ill-thought-through scheme to repeal the Act of Settlement and to abolish male primogeniture for the Throne (though not for estates, nor for the hereditary peerages that continue to elect 92 members of the House of Lords). Which Realm or Territory is considering leave the family defined by our shared monarch unless these changes were given effect, though not otherwise? Even if any were, then it would still be wrong.
There is a certain Spot The Deliberate Mistake quality to proposals to make the monarchy more egalitarian or, heaven help us all, “meritocratic”. The Act of Settlement reminds us that we are different, and it does us the courtesy of taking our beliefs seriously by identifying them as a real challenge.
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.
By Adrian Hilton, Mailonline
I have for many years opposed amending the Act of Settlement 1701, in particular those historic clauses which refer to the Protestant Settlement between the people, the Monarchy and the Established Church. I understand, to some, that this puts me in the ‘extremist bigot’ category, somewhere above Enoch Powell but still a little way beneath the Rev’d Dr Ian Paisley. That was the view taken by the Catholic Herald back in 2005, when they demanded that Michael Howard dismiss me as a Conservative parliamentary candidate over articles I had written on the matter for The Spectator two years earlier (which had been evaluated by the Chief Whip, no less). But there was no reasoning with the ‘something-of-the-night’ autocrat. Thankfully, more mature minds (like Charles Moore, William Rees-Mogg, Ann Widdecombe and Boris Johnson) fully understood my concerns, which were based on theological knowledge and constitutional history rather than any irrational prejudice or ‘bigotry’.
I also received a personal letter from Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor – then leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales – which was rather critical of his more zealous journalist co-religionists. But neither my reasoning nor the intercessory pleas of moderate Roman Catholics was able to sway the leadership of the Conservative Party, and so I had to go. I refused to resign, so Howard duly sacked me (by text, though I actually found out via the BCC a few hours before). Charles Moore was incredulous that a Tory candidate ‘should be cast out for defending the current, legal form of our monarchy’, finding my view ‘an educated and thoughtful one, certainly not that of a “bigot”’.
This Government and the previous Government have consulted closely with senior Church of England figures throughout the long process which has led up to the introduction of this Bill.
In a speech in the House of Lords during debate on the Queen's speech on 14th May 2012, the then Bishop of Blackburn said: "the references in the humble Address to reform of the rules of royal succession are sensible and timely. I know I speak for all on these Benches when I say that we wish the Government well in their present consultations with the other Commonwealth realms. We look forward to and hope that it will then be possible for the necessary Bill to pass quickly through both Houses of Parliament."