« Manic phase | Main | Light eater »

Justice for the [royal] unborn!

Is there anything wrong with updating the rules of succession to the shared throne of the Commonwealth realms? Maybe not, I suggest in my Tuesday Post column, but there is a danger in letting British politicians treat those rules as a unique political preserve of Britain, alterable in an instant to suit the changing whims of the British people. (I'm happy with the column, but it's definitely one to file under "The sort of thing you will like, if you like that sort of thing.")


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Comments (4)

I think there's a certain argument to be made in favour of tightening the succession to "the eldest living child come hell or high water", if only because it removes the possibility of a messy neo-Edwardite Prince William deciding he really fancies a papist dame, and when you're talking about an institution that's 942 years old, stability is good.

Meanwhile, letting women succeed on an equal basis with men would at least provide a certain PR value without damaging the monarchy in any way, unless you believe that her current majesty has been all hormonal and destroyed the dignity of the crown or something.

And having quibbled with your outlying statements, your money shot - that the Commonwealth should make this decision, not the United Kingdom - is spot on.

As a papist and a milquetoast monarchist, I think that part of the succession rules might as well not change. The biggest issue is that we papists are expected to raise our kids as little Roman Catholics too, an obvious conflict with the needs of monarchial succession.

In other words, it would be impossible for a Catholic spouse in the line of succession to both remain an observant Catholic and still produce heirs to the throne.

The equal-succession-rights-for-women thing seems perfectly uncontroversial to me: by recent history, the female monarchs have been durable, reliable, and beloved. This is even the perfect time to make such a switch, as there would be no change in the order of succession for anyone with a plausible shot at the throne (if my reading is right, the nearest change would be the swapping in succession of the 8th and 9th in line, siblings Viscount Severn and Lady Windsor. Current ages: 1 and 5.)

As for the Commonwealth getting to consult, well, welcome to the genuine peril of having a foreign monarch reign over you. I don't think any changes of the sort proposed are likely to create a rise of republican fervor in the Dominion, but that's more likely than the other, and even more fun alternative: a monarchial schism, in which Canada invites the pretender to the throne who we recognize to take the title of King (or Queen) of Canada and move into Rideau Hall.

I wonder if, between Prince Charles' mushy Anglicanism and the general transformation of both the C of E and the religiosity of England, the Anglicans might be inclined to disestablish themselves. It can hardly hurt: at present there are more church-going Catholics than church-going Anglicans in the UK (though of course, professed Anglicans are still about 22% of the country, versus 9% for professed Catholics).

That said, Anglicanism hasn't lapsed to the hilarious levels of the Church of Sweden yet, where observant C of S members may be outnumbered by Swedish Muslim congregations!

I don't see how changing the rules of succession makes them more uncertain. They've been changed before. Indeed, in the eighteenth century, to deny that the royal succession could be changed by ordinary statute was a species of treason and could (theoretically) be punished by a very nasty death.

Isn't our whole constitution characterized by ad-hoc arrangements becoming customs, and then firm rules, over a period of generations? I don't disagree that we need to reserve the right to reform them as a last resort, but does "We need to extirpate a literally harmless species of sexism to show JUST how much we hate it" qualify as a sufficient reason?


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 14, 2009 10:10 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Manic phase.

The next post in this blog is Light eater.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Powered by
Movable Type 3.35