Royal law change for gender equality

VERNON SMALL
Last updated 16:41 18/02/2013
Fairfax Media

Law change means anyone in Royal line born after 28 Oct, 2011, may ascend to the British throne.

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A law change will be introduced today that will allow an elder daughter to precede a younger son in the line of succession to the throne, meaning the order of succession will no longer be based on gender.

Justice Minister Judith Collins said the Royal Succession Bill would apply to any children in the Royal line of succession born after 28 October 2011.

"This means the change will apply to the child of Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, due to be born in July," Collins said.

The new rules will also allow a person married to a Roman Catholic to become King or Queen. Currently, prospective heirs married to Catholics are disqualified from succession.

The changes will not allow a Catholic to accede to the throne. The rules which require the Sovereign to swear an oath to maintain the Protestant religion will remain unchanged.

The Bill also removes the requirement that members of the Royal family must seek the Sovereign's permission to marry, and instead require just the first six in line to the throne to seek consent to marry.

"All 16 countries sharing the Queen as Head of State, including New Zealand must have the same laws of succession. In the United Kingdom, a Bill to make these changes to Royal succession laws is currently going through Parliament. New Zealand also needs to make changes to our laws because changes to United Kingdom laws do not automatically apply here," Collins said.

After its first reading, the Royal Succession Bill will be referred to a select committee where everyone will have the opportunity to have their say on the Bill.

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