Overwhelming public support to end sexism in Royal succession

Last month Nick Clegg took up the issue which Lynne Featherstone and Evan Harris had previously been pushing, namely changing the rules of Royal succession so that men and women are treated equally, rather than men being given preference over women.

One of YouGov’s post-Royal Wedding questions was about Royal primogeniture and found overwhelming backing for the change:

Currently male children of the monarch take precedence over female children in terms of the succession. Do you think men and women should be treated equally in the line of succession to the throne?

Should 76%
Should not 14%
Don’t know 10%

A slightly different question last year found 70% backing the proposed reform.

There was also support, if not as strong, for removing the bar on Catholics from the monarchy (43%-36% with 21% don’t knows).

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  • My only issue with this is that whilst common sense would dictate that the succession should be changed the Monarchy isn’t really based upon common sense. It’s not really logical that an accident of birth makes someone the head of state whatever their sex is, and I say that as someone who supports the Monarchy.

    Perhaps allowing the Royal Family to continue and concentrating parliamentary time on the House of Lords where real power is sometimes exercised would be the better option….

  • Matthew Huntbach 4th May '11 - 9:38am

    As I have said before, the monarchy is an anachronism kept in place because it is quaint. If you are going to have such a thing, you might as well maximise its quaintness by keeping the rules exactly as they are. “Modernising” the monarchy makes as much sense as modernising a historical ruin. If you have a historical ruin, you don’t knock bits of it down and build new bits in a different way because “that’s more modern”.

  • Robert Andrew Brown 4th May '11 - 9:38am

    An Inconvenient Truth ? – At law women already have equal rights in royal succession to the crown

    I respectfully suggest that under UK law as currently enacted, namely the Act of Settlement, by virtue of the enactment of the Human Rights Act, that women and illegitimate children already have equal rights in succession to the Crown. The law as enacted simply needs to be recognised by the United Kingdom Government.

    Rights of inheritance have been determined fall under Article 8 of the Convention on Human Rights. (See Marckx v Belgium par 52) http://cmiskp.echr.coe.int/tkp197/view.asp?item=1&portal=hbkm&action=html&highlight=marckx&sessionid=69899417&skin=hudoc-en Succession to the Crown includes the right of enjoyment or ownership of lands, chattels, and income, as well as real powers.

    The interpretation of the Act of Settlement, which is silent as to gender and illegitimacy, in accordance with the provisions of the Human Rights Act, as required by law, so as to be convention compliant, would engage article 14, Prohibition of Discrimination, and article 8, Right to Family life, and so arguably give women and illegitimate children equal rights in royal succession without any need to amend The Act of Settlement, or any other UK legislation, or legislation of the Realm Partners.


    On the basis of a long-standing historic refusal of the UK to address these issues, by application or amendment of the law, a case has been brought before the ECHR, (R Brown V The United Kingdom, 10646/11), claiming the UK are illegally discriminating against women and illegitimate children in royal succession.

    Her Majesty in Her Coronation Oath swears to support the law including that of succession, on which basis Her Majesty should arguably support equality for women and illegitimate children in succession, rather than standing aside from the issue. A Channel Island petition to the this effect is in the process of preparation. http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons/lib/research/briefings/snpc-00435.pdf

    MPs undertake to uphold the lawful order of succession under the terms of the Act of Settlement to “the utmost of their Powers with their Lives and Estates”.

    I have also written bringing this matter to the attention Government Ministers, The Attorney Generals of the UK and Realm Partners. Government Officers have ignored requests that this matter be addressed since 2003.

    All that is required to give women and illegitimate children equal rights in succession is the recognition of the law as currently enacted.

  • Old Codger Chris 4th May '11 - 10:20am

    Like some other things in life, British royalty is an absurdity which works surprisingly well most of the time. Admittedly, that is due in large measure to our present queen – it remains to be seen how successful the monarchy will be in generations to some.

    The British monarchy’s secret weapon has been its ability to gradually evolve and the law on inheritance should be changed BEFORE Will and Kate’s first baby. If Charles had died childless, Andrew and Edward would have taken precedence over Anne. Enough said?

    And, of course, the ban on Catholics must be removed.

  • Matthew Huntbach 4th May '11 - 12:24pm

    Old Codger Chris

    And, of course, the ban on Catholics must be removed.

    As a Catholic I am proud of that ban, and wish it to remain. It reminds me of the honourable history of my Church in standing up against the power of the state in this country (never mind what it did in other countries – it’s easier to be a papist in this country where that’s an anti-establishment label). It is precisely one of those bits of historical ruin which I want to see in place because it is a bit I can point to and say “See – do you know why that is there?”.

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