The change in British law allowing for the first-born of William and Kate to accede to the throne regardless of sex will be rushed through Parliament in the new year, Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister, said in the Houses of Parliament in London yesterday.
He said that by “wonderful coincidence” the final formal consents from other Commonwealth realms were received just as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge revealed that they are expecting their first child.
Mr. Clegg said it was “a historic moment for our country and our monarchy.”
He told M.P.s that all 16 Commonwealth realms—nations that recognize Britain's queen as their head of state—had now given approval to the change.
He said: “We can also all celebrate that whether the baby is a boy or a girl, they will have an equal claim to the throne. It’s a wonderful coincidence that the final confirmation from the other realms arrived on the very day that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge made their announcement.
“The government will soon introduce the Succession to the Crown Bill, which will make our old-fashioned rules fit for the 21st century. It will write down in law what we agreed back in 2011—that if the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have a baby girl, she can one day be our queen even if she later has younger brothers.”
The new rules will apply to any child born in the line of succession after the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Perth, Australia, in October last year, when the countries that have the British monarch as their head of state agreed in principle to the change.
Since then, the New Zealand government has been coordinating the formal consents from each realm, with assurances that they will be able to complete the necessary measures before the British legislation comes into force.
It will involve amendments to some of Britain’s key constitutional documents, such as the Bill of Rights and Coronation Oath Act of 1688, the 1701 Act of Settlement, and the 1706 Act of Union with Scotland.
Apart from ending the principle of male primogeniture, which dates back to the 1701 Act of Settlement, the legislation will also end the bar on anyone in the line of succession marrying a Roman Catholic.
The ban on Roman Catholics inheriting the throne will remain in place, however, as the British monarch is head of the Church of England.