Royal succession rules to be changed

Last updated 07:14 22/10/2011
The Queen and Prince Philip arrive in Canberra.
Reuters
TOUCHDOWN: The Queen and Prince Philip arrive in Canberra.

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A plan to overturn a 300-year-old ban on heirs to the throne marrying Roman Catholics and end discrimination against royal daughters is likely to be approved at a summit of leaders of Commonwealth nations next week, the government has said.

Prime Minister David Cameron said earlier this month he had written to the 15 other realms who share the Queen as their monarch to request their approval. The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting will be held in Perth, Australia from October 28-30.

"This matter (royal succession) will be discussed and I believe approved at the CHOGM in Perth," said David Howell, the Foreign Office minister responsible for Britain's relations with the Commonwealth.

"I think (it will be) agreed that this is the right way to go forward and that processes should be set in motion .... for it to happen," he added.

Current succession rules dating back to 1688 and 1700 were designed to ensure a Protestant monarchy, and barred anyone in line to the throne from marrying a Roman Catholic unless they relinquished their claim to the crown.

The government also wants the order of royal succession to be determined purely by age, and not by sex. Until now, male heirs have taken precedence over female heirs, regardless of age.

The Commonwealth is a voluntary grouping of 54 nations that developed out of the former British empire, and which promotes partnership on issues including human rights, the rule of law, trade and education.

Howell said Britain backed a bid by the newly formed country of South Sudan to join the grouping. The Commonwealth's most recent members are Rwanda, Cameroon and Mozambique.

"We support the application of South Sudan .... and the issue will be examined and looked at and the usual filter of criteria will be applied. But speaking for the UK, we said that we back South Sudan's application."

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- Reuters

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