Rules of succession to the throne in the United Kingdom were established in the early 1700s and have remained unchanged for centuries. In the reign of Elizabeth II, who died on Thursday (8) at the age of 96, the guidelines were modified for the first time to equalize the possibility of men and women taking the crown.
In 2013, when David Cameron was the British Prime Minister, the Succession to the Crown Act was passed in parliament. The norm replaced the Law of Instatement, of 1701. With that, the male preference primogeniture was replaced by the absolute primogeniture.
Eighteenth-century law established that men had preference over women in the line of succession. A monarch’s firstborn, for example, could not inherit the crown if she had a younger male brother.
The new rule defined that the firstborn must have preference over the other heirs to the throne, regardless of gender. The measure took effect on March 26, 2015.
Another significant change was the permission for heirs to the throne to marry Roman Catholics.
In the succession of Elizabeth II, Charles III, being the eldest, would assume the reign under either rule.
The old rule and the new rule of succession
When England was still building its government, in the late 1600s, the nation’s leaders began to study a code of succession to power. In 1701, the “Law of Establishment” was created.
At the time, legislation established that when King William III died, the title of monarch would go to “Queen Anne” and “heirs of her body”. The country’s legislation, over the years, has implemented the preference for male children.
Furthermore, with the Anglican Church well established in the nation, the law removed Roman Catholics from the line of succession to the throne, prohibiting these individuals from marrying heirs to the crown.
The agreement on the Act of Succession was announced in 2011 by David Cameron during the biannual Commonwealth Summit in Perth, Australia.
“We will do away with the male primogeniture rule so that in the future, the order of succession will be determined simply by birth order. In other words, if the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were expecting a girl, that girl would be our queen one day,” she announced.
The rules for marriages and religion
With the 2013 act, marriage to Roman Catholics no longer disqualified the individual from assuming the Crown.
However, the stipulation of the Law of Establishment that requires the monarch to be Protestant remains unchanged, as the owner of the British crown is also sovereign of the English Church.
During Cameron’s administration, the Royal Marriages Act of 1772 was also repealed. As a result, only the first six individuals in the line of succession to the throne need royal approval to marry.
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Source: CNN Brasil
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