The Rules of British Royal Succession Change, And I Bore You To Death By Writing About Them.

Today is a great day.

Not only is it Friday, but some rules that were as antiquated as…well, let’s just say they’re really old (as in, from the 17th century!) have been changed to reflect general 21st century beliefs and thus hints at the modernization (finally) of the British Commonwealth.

(Note: If you’re new here, you may not have known that I am a total FANATIC about the British monarchy. It’s a blessing and a curse: don’t be scared. I’m harmless.)

First, the rules as they were:

Succession rules indicated that boys were given precedence to the throne over girls, just because they were, well, boys. Let me give you an example of how this worked, before Charles married Diana and before Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip (her husband) had grandchildren.

Should something have happened to Queen Elizabeth II at that time, Prince Charles (her first-born) was (and still is) next in line for the throne. Should something have happened to him at that time, Elizabeth’s second born, Anne (The Princess Royal, as she’s known), would have been skipped because she’s a girl, and Prince Andrew (third born) would have ascended to the throne. After him, Prince Edward (fourth born) would have been in line.

Girls in the British royal family have pretty much gotten the short end of the stick for ages. This has always bothered me. I understand tradition (and rather like it!) but I believe that along with upholding tradition you have to be open to changing certain things so you don’t get stuck being eons behind everyone else.

As we all know, women’s rights have come a long way in the last hundred years or so. It seems like the leaders of the countries in the Commonwealth (led by British Prime Minister David Cameron) finally realized that succession rules as they used to be were unfair, discriminatory, and didn’t portray the British Monarchy as being on the same page with its subjects. At all.

According to the old rules, if William and Kate (err, Catherine) eventually produce two children, a girl first and a boy second, the girl would be skipped over in the line of succession to the throne in favor of her younger brother.

With the new rules, the first-born child of William and Kate will be next in line for the throne, no matter what the gender. This makes me happy. (and as we all know, around here it’s all about me and my happiness.)

Now if you’ll excuse me, I feel like I need to go and sing a Spice Girls song. Girl Power! (Back to regular “programming” next time. Promise.)

500px Elizabeth II greets NASA GSFC employees May 8 2007 edit
A jolly good decision, don't you think, Your Majesty? (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)


  • Michelle

    Yes, but the girl’s husband would still only get the title of prince and not king, right? And cool thing? If someone in the monarchy (a duchess or countess or whathaveyou) marries – whether she was a countess by birth or from her first marriage – she gets to keep her title even if she marries a commoner. I sorta like that….

    • Rose

      It is also relevent that the other half of that decision is to allow the reigning monarch to marry a “Catholic”. Since Henry’s split with the church in 1536, monarchs were free to marry a partner of any faith, or non-faith for that matter – but never, never, never a Catholic. It is said that Henry recanted on his deathbed, but too late to clear up the mess he had created. Long live the Queen!