Act of Settlement 1701

Act of Settlement 1701

Overview
The Act of Settlement is an act
Acts of Parliament in the United Kingdom
An Act of Parliament in the United Kingdom is a type of legislation called primary legislation. These Acts are passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom at Westminster, or by the Scottish Parliament at Edinburgh....

 of the Parliament of England
Parliament of England
The Parliament of England was the legislature of the Kingdom of England. In 1066, William of Normandy introduced a feudal system, by which he sought the advice of a council of tenants-in-chief and ecclesiastics before making laws...

 that was passed in 1701 to settle the succession
Order of succession
An order of succession is a formula or algorithm that determines who inherits an office upon the death, resignation, or removal of its current occupant.-Monarchies and nobility:...

 to the English throne on the Electress
Electress
An Electress was the consort of an Elector of the Holy Roman Empire, one of the Empire's greatest princes.The Golden Bull of 1356 established by Emperor Charles IV settled the number of Electors at seven...

 Sophia of Hanover
Sophia of Hanover
Sophia of the Palatinate was an heiress to the crowns of England and Ireland and later the crown of Great Britain. She was declared heiress presumptive by the Act of Settlement 1701...

 (a granddaughter of James I
James I of England
James VI and I was King of Scots as James VI from 24 July 1567 and King of England and Ireland as James I from the union of the English and Scottish crowns on 24 March 1603...

) and her Protestant
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

 heirs. The act was later extended to Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

, as a result of the Treaty of Union
Treaty of Union
The Treaty of Union is the name given to the agreement that led to the creation of the united kingdom of Great Britain, the political union of the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland, which took effect on 1 May 1707...

 (Article II), enacted in the Acts of Union 1707
Acts of Union 1707
The Acts of Union were two Parliamentary Acts - the Union with Scotland Act passed in 1706 by the Parliament of England, and the Union with England Act passed in 1707 by the Parliament of Scotland - which put into effect the terms of the Treaty of Union that had been agreed on 22 July 1706,...

 before it was ever needed. Along with the Bill of Rights 1689
Bill of Rights 1689
The Bill of Rights or the Bill of Rights 1688 is an Act of the Parliament of England.The Bill of Rights was passed by Parliament on 16 December 1689. It was a re-statement in statutory form of the Declaration of Right presented by the Convention Parliament to William and Mary in March 1689 ,...

, it remains today one of the main constitutional laws governing the succession
Line of succession to the British Throne
The line of succession to the British throne is the ordered sequence of those people eligible to succeed to the throne of the United Kingdom and the other 15 Commonwealth realms. By the terms of the Act of Settlement 1701, the succession is limited to the descendants of the Electress Sophia of...

 to not only the throne of the United Kingdom
Monarchy of the United Kingdom
The monarchy of the United Kingdom is the constitutional monarchy of the United Kingdom and its overseas territories. The present monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, has reigned since 6 February 1952. She and her immediate family undertake various official, ceremonial and representational duties...

, but, following British colonialism
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

, the resultant doctrine of reception
Doctrine of reception
In common law, the doctrine of reception refers to the process in which the English law becomes applicable to a British Crown Colony, protectorate, or protected state....

, and independence, also to those of the other Commonwealth realm
Commonwealth Realm
A Commonwealth realm is a sovereign state within the Commonwealth of Nations that has Elizabeth II as its monarch and head of state. The sixteen current realms have a combined land area of 18.8 million km² , and a population of 134 million, of which all, except about two million, live in the six...

s, whether by willing deference to the act as a British statute or as a patriated
Patriation
Patriation is a non-legal term used in Canada to describe a process of constitutional change also known as "homecoming" of the constitution. Up until 1982, Canada was governed by a constitution that was a British law and could be changed only by an Act of the British Parliament...

 part of the particular realm's constitution.
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Encyclopedia
The Act of Settlement is an act
Acts of Parliament in the United Kingdom
An Act of Parliament in the United Kingdom is a type of legislation called primary legislation. These Acts are passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom at Westminster, or by the Scottish Parliament at Edinburgh....

 of the Parliament of England
Parliament of England
The Parliament of England was the legislature of the Kingdom of England. In 1066, William of Normandy introduced a feudal system, by which he sought the advice of a council of tenants-in-chief and ecclesiastics before making laws...

 that was passed in 1701 to settle the succession
Order of succession
An order of succession is a formula or algorithm that determines who inherits an office upon the death, resignation, or removal of its current occupant.-Monarchies and nobility:...

 to the English throne on the Electress
Electress
An Electress was the consort of an Elector of the Holy Roman Empire, one of the Empire's greatest princes.The Golden Bull of 1356 established by Emperor Charles IV settled the number of Electors at seven...

 Sophia of Hanover
Sophia of Hanover
Sophia of the Palatinate was an heiress to the crowns of England and Ireland and later the crown of Great Britain. She was declared heiress presumptive by the Act of Settlement 1701...

 (a granddaughter of James I
James I of England
James VI and I was King of Scots as James VI from 24 July 1567 and King of England and Ireland as James I from the union of the English and Scottish crowns on 24 March 1603...

) and her Protestant
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

 heirs. The act was later extended to Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

, as a result of the Treaty of Union
Treaty of Union
The Treaty of Union is the name given to the agreement that led to the creation of the united kingdom of Great Britain, the political union of the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland, which took effect on 1 May 1707...

 (Article II), enacted in the Acts of Union 1707
Acts of Union 1707
The Acts of Union were two Parliamentary Acts - the Union with Scotland Act passed in 1706 by the Parliament of England, and the Union with England Act passed in 1707 by the Parliament of Scotland - which put into effect the terms of the Treaty of Union that had been agreed on 22 July 1706,...

 before it was ever needed. Along with the Bill of Rights 1689
Bill of Rights 1689
The Bill of Rights or the Bill of Rights 1688 is an Act of the Parliament of England.The Bill of Rights was passed by Parliament on 16 December 1689. It was a re-statement in statutory form of the Declaration of Right presented by the Convention Parliament to William and Mary in March 1689 ,...

, it remains today one of the main constitutional laws governing the succession
Line of succession to the British Throne
The line of succession to the British throne is the ordered sequence of those people eligible to succeed to the throne of the United Kingdom and the other 15 Commonwealth realms. By the terms of the Act of Settlement 1701, the succession is limited to the descendants of the Electress Sophia of...

 to not only the throne of the United Kingdom
Monarchy of the United Kingdom
The monarchy of the United Kingdom is the constitutional monarchy of the United Kingdom and its overseas territories. The present monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, has reigned since 6 February 1952. She and her immediate family undertake various official, ceremonial and representational duties...

, but, following British colonialism
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

, the resultant doctrine of reception
Doctrine of reception
In common law, the doctrine of reception refers to the process in which the English law becomes applicable to a British Crown Colony, protectorate, or protected state....

, and independence, also to those of the other Commonwealth realm
Commonwealth Realm
A Commonwealth realm is a sovereign state within the Commonwealth of Nations that has Elizabeth II as its monarch and head of state. The sixteen current realms have a combined land area of 18.8 million km² , and a population of 134 million, of which all, except about two million, live in the six...

s, whether by willing deference to the act as a British statute or as a patriated
Patriation
Patriation is a non-legal term used in Canada to describe a process of constitutional change also known as "homecoming" of the constitution. Up until 1982, Canada was governed by a constitution that was a British law and could be changed only by an Act of the British Parliament...

 part of the particular realm's constitution. Since the implementation of the Statute of Westminster 1931
Statute of Westminster 1931
The Statute of Westminster 1931 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Passed on 11 December 1931, the Act established legislative equality for the self-governing dominions of the British Empire with the United Kingdom...

 in each of the Commonwealth realms (on successive dates from 1931 onwards), the Act of Settlement cannot be altered in any realm except by that realm's own parliament and, by convention, only with the consent of all the other realms, as it touches on the succession to the shared throne.

Original context


Following the Glorious Revolution
Glorious Revolution
The Glorious Revolution, also called the Revolution of 1688, is the overthrow of King James II of England by a union of English Parliamentarians with the Dutch stadtholder William III of Orange-Nassau...

, the line of succession to the English throne was governed by the Bill of Rights 1689
Bill of Rights 1689
The Bill of Rights or the Bill of Rights 1688 is an Act of the Parliament of England.The Bill of Rights was passed by Parliament on 16 December 1689. It was a re-statement in statutory form of the Declaration of Right presented by the Convention Parliament to William and Mary in March 1689 ,...

, which declared that the flight of James II
James II of England
James II & VII was King of England and King of Ireland as James II and King of Scotland as James VII, from 6 February 1685. He was the last Catholic monarch to reign over the Kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland...

 from England to France during the revolution amounted to an abdication
Abdication
Abdication occurs when a monarch, such as a king or emperor, renounces his office.-Terminology:The word abdication comes derives from the Latin abdicatio. meaning to disown or renounce...

 of the throne and that James' son-in-law, William of Orange
William III of England
William III & II was a sovereign Prince of Orange of the House of Orange-Nassau by birth. From 1672 he governed as Stadtholder William III of Orange over Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Guelders, and Overijssel of the Dutch Republic. From 1689 he reigned as William III over England and Ireland...

, and his wife, James' daughter, Mary
Mary II of England
Mary II was joint Sovereign of England, Scotland, and Ireland with her husband and first cousin, William III and II, from 1689 until her death. William and Mary, both Protestants, became king and queen regnant, respectively, following the Glorious Revolution, which resulted in the deposition of...

, were James' successors, who ruled jointly as William III and Mary II
William and Mary
The phrase William and Mary usually refers to the coregency over the Kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland, of King William III & II and Queen Mary II...

. The Bill of Rights also stated that the line of succession would go through their descendants, then through Mary's sister Princess Anne, and her descendants, and then to the issue of William III by a later marriage (if he were to marry again after the death of Mary II).

However, Mary II died childless in 1694, after which William III did not remarry, and Princess Anne's last surviving child, Prince William, Duke of Gloucester, died six years later, after which it was unlikely she would have any more children due to her age and the large number of miscarriages she had previously suffered. Thus, there was seen a need for a new law that would ensure the continuance of the succession following the death of the last legal heir under the Bill of Rights, being Princess Anne, guaranteeing the line of succession would continue in the Protestant line, and excluding any possible claims by the deposed James II or his son and daughter, James Francis Edward
James Francis Edward Stuart
James Francis Edward, Prince of Wales was the son of the deposed James II of England...

 and Louisa Maria Teresa Stuart
Louisa Maria Teresa Stuart
Louisa Maria Teresa Stuart , known to Jacobites as The Princess Royal, was the last child of James II and VII , the deposed king of England, Scotland, and Ireland, and of his queen, Mary of Modena...

. The Act of Settlement was thus passed and granted Royal Assent
Royal Assent
The granting of royal assent refers to the method by which any constitutional monarch formally approves and promulgates an act of his or her nation's parliament, thus making it a law...

 in June 1701.

Provisions of the act


The Act of Settlement provided that the throne would pass to the Electress Sophia of Hanover
Sophia of Hanover
Sophia of the Palatinate was an heiress to the crowns of England and Ireland and later the crown of Great Britain. She was declared heiress presumptive by the Act of Settlement 1701...

 – a granddaughter of James VI of Scotland and I of England
James I of England
James VI and I was King of Scots as James VI from 24 July 1567 and King of England and Ireland as James I from the union of the English and Scottish crowns on 24 March 1603...

, niece of Charles I of Scotland and England
Charles I of England
Charles I was King of England, King of Scotland, and King of Ireland from 27 March 1625 until his execution in 1649. Charles engaged in a struggle for power with the Parliament of England, attempting to obtain royal revenue whilst Parliament sought to curb his Royal prerogative which Charles...

 – and her Protestant
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

 descendants who had not married a Roman Catholic
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

; those who were Roman Catholic, and those who married a Roman Catholic, were barred from ascending the throne "for ever". Eight further provisions of the act would only come into effect upon the death of both William and Anne:
  • The monarch "shall join in communion with the Church of England
    Church of England
    The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

    ." This was another provision to avoid a Roman Catholic monarch. Along with James II's perceived despotism, his religion was the main cause of the Glorious Revolution
    Glorious Revolution
    The Glorious Revolution, also called the Revolution of 1688, is the overthrow of King James II of England by a union of English Parliamentarians with the Dutch stadtholder William III of Orange-Nassau...

     of 1688, and the previous linked religious and succession problems solved by the joint monarchy of William and Mary
    William and Mary
    The phrase William and Mary usually refers to the coregency over the Kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland, of King William III & II and Queen Mary II...

    .
  • If a person not native to England comes to the throne, England will not wage war for "any dominions or territories which do not belong to the Crown of England, without the consent of Parliament." This was farsighted, because when the House of Hanover
    House of Hanover
    The House of Hanover is a deposed German royal dynasty which has ruled the Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg , the Kingdom of Hanover, the Kingdom of Great Britain, the Kingdom of Ireland and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland...

     ascended the British throne they would retain the territories that became the Kingdom of Hanover
    Kingdom of Hanover
    The Kingdom of Hanover was established in October 1814 by the Congress of Vienna, with the restoration of George III to his Hanoverian territories after the Napoleonic era. It succeeded the former Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg , and joined with 38 other sovereign states in the German...

     (situated in modern-day Germany
    Germany
    Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

    's Lower Saxony
    Lower Saxony
    Lower Saxony is a German state situated in north-western Germany and is second in area and fourth in population among the sixteen states of Germany...

    ). This provision has been dormant since Queen Victoria ascended the throne, because she did not inherit Hanover under the Salic Law
    Salic law
    Salic law was a body of traditional law codified for governing the Salian Franks in the early Middle Ages during the reign of King Clovis I in the 6th century...

    s of the German states, but in principle it could again become relevant in the future.
  • No monarch may leave "the dominions of England
    England
    England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

    , Scotland
    Scotland
    Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

    , or Ireland
    Ireland
    Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

    ," without the consent of Parliament. This provision was repealed in 1716, at the request of George I
    George I of Great Britain
    George I was King of Great Britain and Ireland from 1 August 1714 until his death, and ruler of the Duchy and Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg in the Holy Roman Empire from 1698....

    , who was also the Elector of Hanover and Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg
    Prince-elector
    The Prince-electors of the Holy Roman Empire were the members of the electoral college of the Holy Roman Empire, having the function of electing the Roman king or, from the middle of the 16th century onwards, directly the Holy Roman Emperor.The heir-apparent to a prince-elector was known as an...

     of the Holy Roman Empire
    Holy Roman Empire
    The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

    , and so frequently needed and wanted to stay in Hanover.
  • All government matters within the jurisdiction of the Privy Council were to be transacted there, and all council resolutions were to be signed by those who advised and consented to them. This was because parliament wanted to know who was deciding policies, as sometimes councillors' signatures normally attached to resolutions were absent. This provision was repealed early in Queen Anne's reign, as many councillors ceased to offer advice and some stopped attending meetings altogether.
  • No foreigner, even if naturalised (unless they were born of English parents), shall be allowed to be a Privy Councillor or a member of either House of Parliament, or hold "any office or place of trust, either civil or military, or to have any grant of lands, tenements or hereditaments from the Crown, to himself or to any other or others in trust for him." As a result of subsequent nationality laws, this provision does not apply to naturalised citizens in any Commonwealth Realm.
  • No person who has an office under the monarch, or receives a pension from the Crown, can be a Member of Parliament (MP). This provision was inserted to avoid unwelcome royal influence over the House of Commons. It remains in force, but with several exceptions. (As a side effect, this provision means that MPs seeking to resign from parliament can get around the age-old prohibition on resignation by obtaining a low-salary sinecure
    Sinecure
    A sinecure means an office that requires or involves little or no responsibility, labour, or active service...

     in the pay of the Crown; while several offices have been used for this purpose, two are currently in use. Appointments generally alternate between the Stewardships of the Chiltern Hundreds
    Chiltern Hundreds
    Appointment to the office of Crown Steward and Bailiff of the three Chiltern Hundreds of Stoke, Desborough and Burnham is a sinecure appointment which is used as a device allowing a Member of the United Kingdom Parliament to resign his or her seat...

     and the Manor of Northstead
    Manor of Northstead
    The Manor of Northstead was once a collection of fields and farms in the parish of Scalby in the North Riding of Yorkshire in England. By 1600, the manor house had fallen into disrepair and was occupied only by a shepherd. At present the Manor is part of the Barrowcliff area of the town of...

    .)
  • Judges' commissions are valid quamdiu se bene gesserint (during good behaviour), and if they do not behave themselves they can be removed only by both Houses of Parliament, or the one House of Parliament, depending on the legislature's structure. This provision was the result of various monarchs' influencing judges' rulings, and it assured nearly full judicial independence
    Judicial independence
    Judicial Independence is the idea that the judiciary needs to be kept away from the other branches of government...

    .
  • No pardon by the monarch can save someone from being impeached
    Impeachment
    Impeachment is a formal process in which an official is accused of unlawful activity, the outcome of which, depending on the country, may include the removal of that official from office as well as other punishment....

     by the House of Commons.

Effects of the act



For different reasons, various constitutionalists have praised the Act of Settlement: Henry Hallam
Henry Hallam
Henry Hallam was an English historian.-Life:The only son of John Hallam, canon of Windsor and dean of Bristol, Henry Hallam was educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford, graduating in 1799...

 called the act in the United Kingdom "the seal of our constitutional laws" and David Lindsay Keir
David Lindsay Keir
Sir David Lindsay Keir was a British historian and educator. From 1949 to 1965 he was Master of Balliol College, Oxford....

 placed its importance above the Bill of Rights 1689. Naamani Tarkow has written: "If one is to make sweeping statements, one may say that, save Magna Carta
Magna Carta
Magna Carta is an English charter, originally issued in the year 1215 and reissued later in the 13th century in modified versions, which included the most direct challenges to the monarch's authority to date. The charter first passed into law in 1225...

 (more truly, its implications), the Act of Settlement is probably the most significant statute in English history".

Kingdom of Great Britain




The Act of Settlement was, in many ways, the major cause of the union
Acts of Union 1707
The Acts of Union were two Parliamentary Acts - the Union with Scotland Act passed in 1706 by the Parliament of England, and the Union with England Act passed in 1707 by the Parliament of Scotland - which put into effect the terms of the Treaty of Union that had been agreed on 22 July 1706,...

 of Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 with England and Wales
England and Wales
England and Wales is a jurisdiction within the United Kingdom. It consists of England and Wales, two of the four countries of the United Kingdom...

 to form the Kingdom of Great Britain
Kingdom of Great Britain
The former Kingdom of Great Britain, sometimes described as the 'United Kingdom of Great Britain', That the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England, shall upon the 1st May next ensuing the date hereof, and forever after, be United into One Kingdom by the Name of GREAT BRITAIN. was a sovereign...

. The Parliament of Scotland
Parliament of Scotland
The Parliament of Scotland, officially the Estates of Parliament, was the legislature of the Kingdom of Scotland. The unicameral parliament of Scotland is first found on record during the early 13th century, with the first meeting for which a primary source survives at...

 was not happy with the Act of Settlement and, in response, passed the Act of Security in 1704, through which Scotland reserved the right to choose its own successor to Queen Anne
Anne of Great Britain
Anne ascended the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland on 8 March 1702. On 1 May 1707, under the Act of Union, two of her realms, England and Scotland, were united as a single sovereign state, the Kingdom of Great Britain.Anne's Catholic father, James II and VII, was deposed during the...

. Stemming from this, the Parliament of England decided that, to ensure the stability and future prosperity of Great Britain, full union of the two parliaments and nations was essential before Anne's death and used a combination of exclusionary legislation (the Alien Act of 1705
Alien Act of 1705
The Alien Act was a law passed by the Parliament of England in 1705, as a response to the Parliament of Scotland's Act of Security of 1704, which in turn was partially a response to the English Act of Settlement 1701....

), politics, and bribery
Bribery
Bribery, a form of corruption, is an act implying money or gift giving that alters the behavior of the recipient. Bribery constitutes a crime and is defined by Black's Law Dictionary as the offering, giving, receiving, or soliciting of any item of value to influence the actions of an official or...

 to achieve it within three years under the Act of Union 1707. This was in marked contrast to the four attempts at political union between 1606 and 1689, which all failed owing to a lack of political will in both kingdoms. By virtue of Article II of the Treaty of Union
Treaty of Union
The Treaty of Union is the name given to the agreement that led to the creation of the united kingdom of Great Britain, the political union of the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland, which took effect on 1 May 1707...

, which defined the succession to the throne of Great Britain, the Act of Settlement became part of Scots Law
Scots law
Scots law is the legal system of Scotland. It is considered a hybrid or mixed legal system as it traces its roots to a number of different historical sources. With English law and Northern Irish law it forms the legal system of the United Kingdom; it shares with the two other systems some...

 as well.

Removal from the succession


Since the passage of the Act of Settlement, the most senior member of the Royal Family to have married a Roman Catholic, and thereby been removed from the line and later lines of succession, is Prince Michael of Kent
Prince Michael of Kent
Prince Michael of Kent is a grandson of King George V and Queen Mary, making him a cousin of Queen Elizabeth II. He is also the first cousin once removed of Prince Phillip. Prince Michael occasionally carries out royal duties representing the Queen at some functions in Commonwealth realms outside...

, who married Baroness Marie-Christine von Reibnitz
Princess Michael of Kent
Princess Michael of Kent is an Austrian-Hungarian member of the British Royal Family. She is married to Prince Michael of Kent, who is a grandson of King George V....

 in 1978; he was fifteenth in the lines of succession at the time of his marriage. The current most senior living descendant of the Electress Sophia who is ineligible to succeed due to the act is George Windsor, Earl of St Andrews
George Windsor, Earl of St Andrews
George Windsor, Earl of St Andrews is the son of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and his wife, Katharine, Duchess of Kent...

, the eldest son of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent
Prince Edward, Duke of Kent
The Duke of Kent graduated from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst on 29 July 1955 as a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Scots Greys, the beginning of a military career that would last over 20 years. He was promoted to captain on 29 July 1961. The Duke of Kent saw service in Hong Kong from 1962–63...

, who married the Roman Catholic Sylvana Palma Tomaselli
Sylvana Windsor, Countess of St Andrews
Sylvana Palma Windsor, Countess of St Andrews , is the wife of George Windsor, Earl of St Andrews, the eldest son and heir of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent. Lady St Andrews was born in Placentia, Newfoundland and Labrador, the daughter of Maximilian Karl Tomaselli, formerly of Salzburg, and Josiane...

 in 1988; he would now be 25th in the lines of succession if he had not lost his place. His son, Lord Downpatrick, converted to Roman Catholicism in 2003 and is the most senior descendant of Sophia to be barred as a result of his own religion. More recently, Peter Phillips
Peter Phillips
Peter Phillips is the son of Anne, Princess Royal of the United Kingdom.Peter Phillips or Philips may also refer to:* Peter Philips Peter Phillips (born 1977) is the son of Anne, Princess Royal of the United Kingdom.Peter Phillips or Philips may also refer to:* Peter Philips Peter Phillips (born...

, son of Anne, Princess Royal
Anne, Princess Royal
Princess Anne, Princess Royal , is the only daughter of Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh...

, and eleventh in line to the thrones, married Autumn Kelly
Autumn Phillips
Autumn Patricia Phillips is the wife of Peter Phillips, who is the son of Anne, Princess Royal and Captain Mark Phillips, and the oldest grandchild of Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh....

; Kelly had been brought up as a Roman Catholic, but she converted to Anglicanism
Anglicanism
Anglicanism is a tradition within Christianity comprising churches with historical connections to the Church of England or similar beliefs, worship and church structures. The word Anglican originates in ecclesia anglicana, a medieval Latin phrase dating to at least 1246 that means the English...

 prior to the wedding. Had she not done so, Phillips would have forfeited his place in the succession upon their marriage.

Excluding those princesses who have married into overseas Roman Catholic royal families, only one member of the Royal Family (that is, with the style of Royal Highness
Royal Highness
Royal Highness is a style ; plural Royal Highnesses...

) has converted to Roman Catholicism since the passage of the act: the Duchess of Kent, wife of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent
Prince Edward, Duke of Kent
The Duke of Kent graduated from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst on 29 July 1955 as a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Scots Greys, the beginning of a military career that would last over 20 years. He was promoted to captain on 29 July 1961. The Duke of Kent saw service in Hong Kong from 1962–63...

. The Duchess converted to Roman Catholicism on 14 January 1994, but her husband did not lose his place in the succession, as the Duchess had been an Anglican at the time of their marriage. The act does not concern itself with wives who later change their religious allegiance. In December 1978, there was media speculation that Prince Charles, Prince of Wales
Charles, Prince of Wales
Prince Charles, Prince of Wales is the heir apparent and eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Since 1958 his major title has been His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales. In Scotland he is additionally known as The Duke of Rothesay...

, might marry a Roman Catholic, although the rumours were never verified.

The abdication of 1936


Under the Act of Settlement, male-preference primogeniture succession of an Anglican legitimate descendant of the Electress Sophia is automatic and immediate, neither depending on, nor waiting for, any proclamation. Thus, during the abdication crisis
Edward VIII abdication crisis
In 1936, a constitutional crisis in the British Empire was caused by King-Emperor Edward VIII's proposal to marry Wallis Simpson, a twice-divorced American socialite....

 of 1936, caused by Edward VIII
Edward VIII of the United Kingdom
Edward VIII was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth, and Emperor of India, from 20 January to 11 December 1936.Before his accession to the throne, Edward was Prince of Wales and Duke of Cornwall and Rothesay...

's desire to marry Wallis Simpson, the consent of all realms concerned, along with, in some cases, new acts of parliament, was required in Britain and throughout the British Dominions to allow for Edward's stepping aside and to ensure that if he had any children they would have no claim to the thrones. In the United Kingdom, His Majesty's Declaration of Abdication Act
His Majesty's Declaration of Abdication Act 1936
His Majesty's Declaration of Abdication Act 1936 was the Act of the British Parliament that allowed King Edward VIII to abdicate the throne, and passed succession to his brother Prince Albert, Duke of York . The Act also excluded any possible future descendants of Edward from the line of succession...

 was, with the consent of the Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

n, Canadian
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

, and South African
Union of South Africa
The Union of South Africa is the historic predecessor to the present-day Republic of South Africa. It came into being on 31 May 1910 with the unification of the previously separate colonies of the Cape, Natal, Transvaal and the Orange Free State...

 governments, passed through parliament and the Crown thus passed to the next-in-line descendant of Sophia: Edward's brother, Prince Albert, Duke of York
George VI of the United Kingdom
George VI was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth from 11 December 1936 until his death...

. The Irish Free State
Irish Free State
The Irish Free State was the state established as a Dominion on 6 December 1922 under the Anglo-Irish Treaty, signed by the British government and Irish representatives exactly twelve months beforehand...

, whose consent to the Abdication Act was also required, neither gave it nor allowed the British legislation to take effect in the Free State's jurisdiction; instead, the Irish parliament passed its own Act—the Executive Authority (External Relations) Act—the day after the Declaration of Abdication Act took force elsewhere, meaning Edward VIII, for one day, remained King of Ireland while George VI was king of all the other realms. To formalise its government's consent to the abdication, the Canadian parliament
Parliament of Canada
The Parliament of Canada is the federal legislative branch of Canada, seated at Parliament Hill in the national capital, Ottawa. Formally, the body consists of the Canadian monarch—represented by her governor general—the Senate, and the House of Commons, each element having its own officers and...

 passed, the following year, the Succession to the Throne Act (1 Geo. VI, c.16), and South Africa took a similar course of action.

Present status


In the Australian Capital Territory, the Act of Settlement was, on 11 May 1989, converted, from an act of the Parliament of England into an ACT enactment, by section 34(4) of the Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Act 1988
Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Act 1988
The Australian Capital Territory Act 1988 is an Act of the Parliament of Australia enacted on 6 December 1988, that establishes ‘a body politic under the Crown by the name of the Australian Capital Territory’ and is the Territory’s constitutional foundation.From 1930 the ACT was administered by...

 (Cwlth), and then renamed The Act of Settlement 1700 by the Legislation Act 2001.

Amendment proposals


Challenges have been made against the Act of Settlement, especially its provisions regarding Roman Catholics and preference for males
Primogeniture
Primogeniture is the right, by law or custom, of the firstborn to inherit the entire estate, to the exclusion of younger siblings . Historically, the term implied male primogeniture, to the exclusion of females...

. However, legislating for alterations to the Act is a complex process, since the act is a common denominator in the shared succession of all the Commonwealth realm
Commonwealth Realm
A Commonwealth realm is a sovereign state within the Commonwealth of Nations that has Elizabeth II as its monarch and head of state. The sixteen current realms have a combined land area of 18.8 million km² , and a population of 134 million, of which all, except about two million, live in the six...

s and the Statute of Westminster 1931
Statute of Westminster 1931
The Statute of Westminster 1931 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Passed on 11 December 1931, the Act established legislative equality for the self-governing dominions of the British Empire with the United Kingdom...

 acknowledges by established convention that any changes to the rules of succession may be made only with the agreement of all of the states involved, with concurrent amendments to be made by each state's parliament or parliaments. Further, as the current monarch is a woman and both her eldest child and, in turn, his eldest child, are Anglican males, any change to the succession laws would have no immediate implications. Consequently, there was little public concern with the issues and debate had been confined largely to academic circles until, in November 2010, the announcement that Prince William was to marry
Wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton
The wedding of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Catherine Middleton took place on 29 April 2011 at Westminster Abbey in London. Prince William, the eldest son of Charles, Prince of Wales, first met Catherine Middleton in 2001, when both were studying at the University of St Andrews. Their...

. This raised the question of what would happen if he were to produce first a daughter and then a son.

The Times
The Times
The Times is a British daily national newspaper, first published in London in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register . The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times are published by Times Newspapers Limited, a subsidiary since 1981 of News International...

reported on 6 November 1995 that Prince Charles
Charles, Prince of Wales
Prince Charles, Prince of Wales is the heir apparent and eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Since 1958 his major title has been His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales. In Scotland he is additionally known as The Duke of Rothesay...

 had stated on that day to Tony Blair
Tony Blair
Anthony Charles Lynton Blair is a former British Labour Party politician who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 2 May 1997 to 27 June 2007. He was the Member of Parliament for Sedgefield from 1983 to 2007 and Leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007...

 and Paddy Ashdown
Paddy Ashdown
Jeremy John Durham Ashdown, Baron Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon, GCMG, KBE, PC , usually known as Paddy Ashdown, is a British politician and diplomat....

, after the funeral of Israeli prime minister
Prime minister
A prime minister is the most senior minister of cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system. In many systems, the prime minister selects and may dismiss other members of the cabinet, and allocates posts to members within the government. In most systems, the prime...

 Yitzhak Rabin
Yitzhak Rabin
' was an Israeli politician, statesman and general. He was the fifth Prime Minister of Israel, serving two terms in office, 1974–77 and 1992 until his assassination in 1995....

, that "Catholics should be able to ascend to the British throne". Ashdown claimed the Prince said: "I really can't think why we can't have Catholics on the throne". In 1998, during debate on a Succession to the Crown Bill
Succession to the Crown Bill
The Succession to the Crown Bill was a British Private Member's Bill aimed at reforming the manner of succession to the British Monarchy published in the House of Lords by Labour peer Lord Dubs on 9 December 2004, and withdrawn by him on 14 January 2005, after the Government said that it would...

, Junior Home Office Minister Lord Williams of Mostyn
Gareth Williams, Baron Williams of Mostyn
Gareth Wyn Williams, Baron Williams of Mostyn, PC, QC, was a Welsh barrister and Labour politician who was Leader of the House of Lords, Lord President of the Council and a member of the Cabinet at the time of his sudden death in 2003.Williams was born near Prestatyn, in North Wales, a son of...

 informed the House of Lords
House of Lords
The House of Lords is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the House of Commons, it meets in the Palace of Westminster....

 that the Queen had "no objection to the Government's view that in determining the line of succession to the throne, daughters and sons should be treated in the same way".

Australia


It was reported in October 2011 that the Australian federal government
Government of Australia
The Commonwealth of Australia is a federal constitutional monarchy under a parliamentary democracy. The Commonwealth of Australia was formed in 1901 as a result of an agreement among six self-governing British colonies, which became the six states...

 had reached an agreement with all of the states
States and territories of Australia
The Commonwealth of Australia is a union of six states and various territories. The Australian mainland is made up of five states and three territories, with the sixth state of Tasmania being made up of islands. In addition there are six island territories, known as external territories, and a...

 on potential changes to their laws in the wake of amendments to the Act of Settlement. The practice of the Australian states for example, New South Wales and Victoria has been, when legislating to repeal some imperial statutes so far as they still applied in Australia, to provide that imperial statutes concerning the royal succession remain in force.

The legal process required at the federal level remains unclear. The Australian Constitution
Constitution of Australia
The Constitution of Australia is the supreme law under which the Australian Commonwealth Government operates. It consists of several documents. The most important is the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia...

, as was noted during the crisis of 1936, contains no power for the federal parliament to legislate with respect to the monarchy. Everything thus turns upon the status and meaning of clause 2 in the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900, which provides: "The provisions of this Act referring to the Queen shall extend to Her Majesty's heirs and successors in the sovereignty of the United Kingdom."

Anne Twomey reviews three possible interpretations of the clause. First: it "mandates that whoever is the sovereign of the United Kingdom is also, by virtue of this external fact, sovereign of Australia"; accordingly, changes to British succession laws would have no effect on Australian law, but if the British amendment changed the sovereign, then the new sovereign of the United Kingdom would automatically become the new sovereign of Australia. Second, it is "merely an interpretative provision", operating to ensure that references to "the Queen" in the Constitution are references to whoever may at the time be the incumbent of the "sovereignty of the United Kingdom" as determined with regard to Australia, following the Australia Act 1986
Australia Act 1986
The Australia Act 1986 is the name given to a pair of separate but related pieces of legislation: one an Act of the Commonwealth Parliament of Australia, the other an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom...

, by Australian law. Or, third, it incorporates the United Kingdom rules of succession into the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act, which itself can now be altered only by Australia, according to the Australia Act 1986
Australia Act 1986
The Australia Act 1986 is the name given to a pair of separate but related pieces of legislation: one an Act of the Commonwealth Parliament of Australia, the other an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom...

; in that way, the British rules of succession have been patriated to Australia and, with regard to Australia, are subject to amendment or repeal solely by Australian law. However, Twomey expresses confidence that, if the High Court of Australia
High Court of Australia
The High Court of Australia is the supreme court in the Australian court hierarchy and the final court of appeal in Australia. It has both original and appellate jurisdiction, has the power of judicial review over laws passed by the Parliament of Australia and the parliaments of the States, and...

 were to be faced with the problems of covering clause 2, it would find some way to conclude that, with regard to Australia, the clause is subject solely to Australian law. Canadian scholar Richard Toporoski theorised in 1998 that "if, let us say, an alteration were to be made in the United Kingdom to the Act of Settlement 1701, providing for the succession of the Crown... [i]t is my opinion that the domestic constitutional law of Australia or Papua New Guinea, for example, would provide for the succession in those countries of the same person who became Sovereign of the United Kingdom."

Canada

See also: Monarchy of Canada > Succession and regency

In Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, where the Act of Settlement is now a part of Canadian constitutional law
Constitution of Canada
The Constitution of Canada is the supreme law in Canada; the country's constitution is an amalgamation of codified acts and uncodified traditions and conventions. It outlines Canada's system of government, as well as the civil rights of all Canadian citizens and those in Canada...

, Tony O'Donohue
Tony O'Donohue
Anthony "Tony" O'Donohue is a former municipal politician in Toronto, Ontario.-Early life:Born in The Burren, County Clare, Ireland , O'Donohue graduated as a civil engineer from University College, Galway in 1954...

, a Canadian civic politician, took issue with the provisions that exclude Roman Catholics from the throne, and which make the monarch of Canada the Supreme Governor of the Church of England
Supreme Governor of the Church of England
The Supreme Governor of the Church of England is a title held by the British monarchs which signifies their titular leadership over the Church of England. Although the monarch's authority over the Church of England is not strong, the position is still very relevant to the church and is mostly...

, requiring him or her to be an Anglican
Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

. This, he claimed, discriminated against non-Anglicans, including Catholics, who are the largest faith group in Canada. In 2002, O'Donohue launched a court action
O'Donohue v. Canada
O'Donohue v. Canada was a legal challenge to the exclusion of Roman Catholics from the throne of Canada. The applicant sought a declaratory judgment that certain provisions of the Act of Settlement 1701 violate the equality-rights section of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms...

 that argued the Act of Settlement violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a bill of rights entrenched in the Constitution of Canada. It forms the first part of the Constitution Act, 1982...

, but the case was dismissed by the court, which found that, as the Act of Settlement is part of the Canadian constitution, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not have supremacy over it. Also, the court pointed out that, while Canada has the power to amend the line of succession to the Canadian throne, the Statute of Westminster stipulates that the agreement of the governments of the fifteen other Commonwealth realms that share the Crown would first have to be sought if Canada wished to continue its relationship with these countries. An appeal of the decision was dismissed on 16 March 2005.

With the announcement in 2007 of the engagement
Engagement
An engagement or betrothal is a promise to marry, and also the period of time between proposal and marriage which may be lengthy or trivial. During this period, a couple is said to be betrothed, affianced, engaged to be married, or simply engaged...

 of Peter Phillips
Peter Phillips
Peter Phillips is the son of Anne, Princess Royal of the United Kingdom.Peter Phillips or Philips may also refer to:* Peter Philips Peter Phillips (born 1977) is the son of Anne, Princess Royal of the United Kingdom.Peter Phillips or Philips may also refer to:* Peter Philips Peter Phillips (born...

 to Autumn Kelly
Autumn Phillips
Autumn Patricia Phillips is the wife of Peter Phillips, who is the son of Anne, Princess Royal and Captain Mark Phillips, and the oldest grandchild of Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh....

, a Roman Catholic, discussion about the Act of Settlement was somewhat reinvigorated. Norman Spector
Norman Spector
Norman Spector is a Canadian journalist, diplomat, civil servant, and newspaper publisher.- Early life and career :Born in Montreal, Quebec, Spector received a Bachelor of Arts with Honors in Political Science, from McGill University in 1970...

 called, in The Globe and Mail
The Globe and Mail
The Globe and Mail is a nationally distributed Canadian newspaper, based in Toronto and printed in six cities across the country. With a weekly readership of approximately 1 million, it is Canada's largest-circulation national newspaper and second-largest daily newspaper after the Toronto Star...

, for Prime Minister
Prime Minister of Canada
The Prime Minister of Canada is the primary minister of the Crown, chairman of the Cabinet, and thus head of government for Canada, charged with advising the Canadian monarch or viceroy on the exercise of the executive powers vested in them by the constitution...

 Stephen Harper
Stephen Harper
Stephen Joseph Harper is the 22nd and current Prime Minister of Canada and leader of the Conservative Party. Harper became prime minister when his party formed a minority government after the 2006 federal election...

 to address the issue of the act's bar on Catholics, saying that Phillips' marriage to Kelly would be the first time the provisions of the act would bear directly on Canada – Phillips would be barred from acceding to the Canadian throne because he married a Roman Catholic Canadian. (This is not the case, however, as the Earl of St. Andrews
George Windsor, Earl of St Andrews
George Windsor, Earl of St Andrews is the son of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and his wife, Katharine, Duchess of Kent...

 had already lost his place in the line of succession when he married the Roman Catholic Canadian Sylvana Palma Tomaselli
Sylvana Windsor, Countess of St Andrews
Sylvana Palma Windsor, Countess of St Andrews , is the wife of George Windsor, Earl of St Andrews, the eldest son and heir of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent. Lady St Andrews was born in Placentia, Newfoundland and Labrador, the daughter of Maximilian Karl Tomaselli, formerly of Salzburg, and Josiane...

 in 1988.) Criticism of the Act of Settlement due to the Phillips-Kelly marriage was muted when Autumn Kelly converted to Anglicanism shortly before her marriage thus preserving her husband's place in the line of succession.

United Kingdom

See also: Succession to the British throne > Reform

From time to time there has been debate over repealing the clause that prevents "Papist
Papist
Papist is a term or an anti-Catholic slur, referring to the Roman Catholic Church, its teachings, practices, or adherents. The term was coined during the English Reformation to denote a person whose loyalties were to the Pope, rather than to the Church of England...

s" (Roman Catholics) or those who marry one from ascending to the British throne. Proponents of repeal argue that the clause is a bigoted anachronism
Anachronism
An anachronism—from the Greek ανά and χρόνος — is an inconsistency in some chronological arrangement, especially a chronological misplacing of persons, events, objects, or customs in regard to each other...

; Cardinal Winning
Thomas Winning
Thomas Joseph Winning was a Scottish Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Archbishop of Glasgow from 1974 and President of the Bishops' Conference of Scotland from 1985 until his death...

, who was leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

, called the act an "insult" to Catholics. Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England, pointed out that Prince William (later the Duke of Cambridge) "can marry by law a Hindu, a Buddhist, anyone, but not a Roman Catholic". Opponents of repeal, such as Enoch Powell
Enoch Powell
John Enoch Powell, MBE was a British politician, classical scholar, poet, writer, and soldier. He served as a Conservative Party MP and Minister of Health . He attained most prominence in 1968, when he made the controversial Rivers of Blood speech in opposition to mass immigration from...

 and Adrian Hilton
Adrian Hilton
Adrian Hilton is an English Conservative politician who gained media attention during the 2005 general election.Hilton was acting assistant principal and faculty head at Slough Grammar School...

, feel that it would lead to the disestablishment of the Church of England as the state religion if a Roman Catholic were to come to the throne. They also point to the fact that the monarch must swear to defend the faith and be a member of the Anglican Communion
Anglican Communion
The Anglican Communion is an international association of national and regional Anglican churches in full communion with the Church of England and specifically with its principal primate, the Archbishop of Canterbury...

, but that a Roman Catholic monarch would, like all Roman Catholics, owe allegiance to the Pope. This would, according to opponents of repeal, amount to a loss of sovereignty
Sovereignty
Sovereignty is the quality of having supreme, independent authority over a geographic area, such as a territory. It can be found in a power to rule and make law that rests on a political fact for which no purely legal explanation can be provided...

.

When in December 1978 there was media speculation that Prince Charles
Charles, Prince of Wales
Prince Charles, Prince of Wales is the heir apparent and eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Since 1958 his major title has been His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales. In Scotland he is additionally known as The Duke of Rothesay...

 might marry a Roman Catholic, Powell defended the provision that excludes Roman Catholics from ascending the throne, claiming his objection was not rooted in religious bigotry but in political considerations. He stated a Roman Catholic monarch would mean the acceptance of a source of authority external to the realm and "in the literal sense, foreign to the Crown-in-Parliament
Queen-in-Parliament
The Queen-in-Parliament , sometimes referred to as the Crown-in-Parliament or, more fully, as the King in Parliament under God, is a technical term of constitutional law in the Commonwealth realms that refers to the Crown in its legislative role, acting with the advice and consent of the lower...

... Between Roman Catholicism and royal supremacy there is, as St Thomas More
Thomas More
Sir Thomas More , also known by Catholics as Saint Thomas More, was an English lawyer, social philosopher, author, statesman and noted Renaissance humanist. He was an important councillor to Henry VIII of England and, for three years toward the end of his life, Lord Chancellor...

 concluded, no reconciliation". Powell concluded that a Roman Catholic crown would be the destruction of the Church of England because "it would contradict the essential character of that church". He continued:

When Thomas Hobbes
Thomas Hobbes
Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury , in some older texts Thomas Hobbs of Malmsbury, was an English philosopher, best known today for his work on political philosophy...

 wrote that "the Papacy is no other than the ghost of the deceased Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 sitting crowned upon the grave thereof", he was promulgating an enormously important truth. Authority in the Roman Church is the exertion of that imperium from which England in the 16th century finally and decisively declared its national independence as the alter imperium, the "other empire", of which Henry VIII
Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII was King of England from 21 April 1509 until his death. He was Lord, and later King, of Ireland, as well as continuing the nominal claim by the English monarchs to the Kingdom of France...

 declared "This realm of England is an empire" ... It would signal the beginning of the end of the British monarchy. It would portend the eventual surrender of everything that has made us, and keeps us still, a nation.


The Scottish Parliament
Scottish Parliament
The Scottish Parliament is the devolved national, unicameral legislature of Scotland, located in the Holyrood area of the capital, Edinburgh. The Parliament, informally referred to as "Holyrood", is a democratically elected body comprising 129 members known as Members of the Scottish Parliament...

 unanimously passed a motion in 1999 calling for the complete removal of any discrimination linked to the monarchy and the repeal of the Act of Settlement. The following year, The Guardian
The Guardian
The Guardian, formerly known as The Manchester Guardian , is a British national daily newspaper in the Berliner format...

challenged the succession law in court, claiming that it violated the European Convention on Human Rights
European Convention on Human Rights
The Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms is an international treaty to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms in Europe. Drafted in 1950 by the then newly formed Council of Europe, the convention entered into force on 3 September 1953...

, which provides "The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in this Convention shall be secured without discrimination on any ground such as sex, race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth or other status." The Convention, however, nowhere lists the right to succeed to the Crown as a human right; therefore, the challenge was rejected.

Adrian Hilton, writing in The Spectator
The Spectator
The Spectator is a weekly British magazine first published on 6 July 1828. It is currently owned by David and Frederick Barclay, who also owns The Daily Telegraph. Its principal subject areas are politics and culture...

in 2003, defended the Act of Settlement as not "irrational prejudice or blind bigotry" but claimed that it was passed because "the nation had learnt that when a Roman Catholic monarch is upon the throne, religious and civil liberty is lost." He points to the fact that the Pope claims universal jurisdiction and he therefore argues that "it would be intolerable to have, as the sovereign of a Protestant and free country, one who owes any allegiance to the head of any other state" and contends that if such situation came about "we will have undone centuries of common law." He further asserts that because the Roman Catholic Church does not recognise
Apostolicae Curae
Apostolicae Curae is the title of a papal bull, issued in 1896 by Pope Leo XIII, declaring all Anglican ordinations to be "absolutely null and utterly void"...

 the Church of England as an apostolic church, a Roman Catholic monarch who abided by their faith's doctrine would be obliged to view Anglican and Church of Scotland
Church of Scotland
The Church of Scotland, known informally by its Scots language name, the Kirk, is a Presbyterian church, decisively shaped by the Scottish Reformation....

 archbishops, bishops, and clergy as part of the laity
Laity
In religious organizations, the laity comprises all people who are not in the clergy. A person who is a member of a religious order who is not ordained legitimate clergy is considered as a member of the laity, even though they are members of a religious order .In the past in Christian cultures, the...

 and therefore "lacking the ordained authority to preach and celebrate the sacraments." (Hilton does mention that the Church of Scotland's Presbyterian polity
Presbyterian polity
Presbyterian polity is a method of church governance typified by the rule of assemblies of presbyters, or elders. Each local church is governed by a body of elected elders usually called the session or consistory, though other terms, such as church board, may apply...

 does not include bishops or archbishops.) Hilton also claims a Roman Catholic monarch would therefore be unable to be crowned by the Archbishop of Canterbury
Archbishop of Canterbury
The Archbishop of Canterbury is the senior bishop and principal leader of the Church of England, the symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury. In his role as head of the Anglican Communion, the archbishop leads the third largest group...

 and points to the examples of European states that have similar religious provisions for their monarchs: Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

, Norway
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

, and Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

, whose constitutions compel their monarchs to be Lutherans
Lutheranism
Lutheranism is a major branch of Western Christianity that identifies with the theology of Martin Luther, a German reformer. Luther's efforts to reform the theology and practice of the church launched the Protestant Reformation...

, the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

, the constitution of which insists its monarchs be members of the Protestant House of Orange, and Belgian
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

, which has a constitution that provides for the succession to be through Roman Catholic houses.

A private member's bill the Succession to the Crown Bill
Succession to the Crown Bill
The Succession to the Crown Bill was a British Private Member's Bill aimed at reforming the manner of succession to the British Monarchy published in the House of Lords by Labour peer Lord Dubs on 9 December 2004, and withdrawn by him on 14 January 2005, after the Government said that it would...

was introduced in the House of Lords in December 2004. The government, headed by Tony Blair
Tony Blair
Anthony Charles Lynton Blair is a former British Labour Party politician who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 2 May 1997 to 27 June 2007. He was the Member of Parliament for Sedgefield from 1983 to 2007 and Leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007...

, however, blocked all attempts to revise the succession laws, claiming it would raise too many constitutional issues and it was unnecessary at the time. In the British general election
United Kingdom general election, 2005
The United Kingdom general election of 2005 was held on Thursday, 5 May 2005 to elect 646 members to the British House of Commons. The Labour Party under Tony Blair won its third consecutive victory, but with a majority of 66, reduced from 160....

 the following year, Michael Howard
Michael Howard
Michael Howard, Baron Howard of Lympne, CH, QC, PC is a British politician, who served as the Leader of the Conservative Party and Leader of the Opposition from November 2003 to December 2005...

 promised to work towards having the prohibition removed if the Conservative Party
Conservative Party (UK)
The Conservative Party, formally the Conservative and Unionist Party, is a centre-right political party in the United Kingdom that adheres to the philosophies of conservatism and British unionism. It is the largest political party in the UK, and is currently the largest single party in the House...

 gained a majority of seats in the House of Commons, but the election was won by Blair's Labour Party
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

. Four years later, plans drawn up by Chris Bryant
Chris Bryant
Christopher John Bryant is a British Labour Party politician, who has been the Member of Parliament for Rhondda since 2001...

 were revealed which would end the exclusion of Catholics from the throne and end the doctrine of agnatic (male-preference) primogeniture
Primogeniture
Primogeniture is the right, by law or custom, of the firstborn to inherit the entire estate, to the exclusion of younger siblings . Historically, the term implied male primogeniture, to the exclusion of females...

 in favour of absolute primogeniture, which governs succession solely on birth order and not on sex. The issue was raised again in January 2009, when a private members bill to amend the Act of Succession was introduced in parliament.

Across the realms


British Labour
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

 Member of Parliament Keith Vaz
Keith Vaz
Nigel Keith Anthony Standish Vaz, known as Keith Vaz, was born 26 November 1956 in Aden, Yemen.Keith Vaz is a British Labour Party politician and a Member of Parliament for Leicester East, He is the longest serving Asian MP and has been the Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee since July...

 introduced to the House of Commons at Westminster, in early 2011, a private member's bill
Private Member's Bill
A member of parliament’s legislative motion, called a private member's bill or a member's bill in some parliaments, is a proposed law introduced by a member of a legislature. In most countries with a parliamentary system, most bills are proposed by the government, not by individual members of the...

, which proposed that the Act of Settlement be amended to remove the provisions relating to Roman Catholicism and change primogeniture governing the line of succession to the British throne from agnatic to absolute cognatic. Vaz sought support for his project from the Canadian Cabinet and Prime Minister
Prime Minister of Canada
The Prime Minister of Canada is the primary minister of the Crown, chairman of the Cabinet, and thus head of government for Canada, charged with advising the Canadian monarch or viceroy on the exercise of the executive powers vested in them by the constitution...

 Stephen Harper
Stephen Harper
Stephen Joseph Harper is the 22nd and current Prime Minister of Canada and leader of the Conservative Party. Harper became prime minister when his party formed a minority government after the 2006 federal election...

, but the Office of the Prime Minister of Canada
Office of the Prime Minister (Canada)
In Canada, the Office of the Prime Minister , located in the Langevin Block, on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, is one of the most powerful parts of the government. It is made up of the prime minister and his or her top political staff, who are charged with advising the prime minister on decisions,...

 responded that the issue was "not a priority for the government or for Canadians without further elaboration on the merits or drawbacks of the proposed reforms." Prime Minister of Saint Lucia Stephenson King
Stephenson King
Stephenson Toby King was the sixth Prime Minister of Saint Lucia. He represents the constituency of Castries North for the United Workers Party in the House of Assembly of Saint Lucia. King won the elections in 2006, unseating the incumbent Minister of Agriculture Ignatius Jean...

 said he supported the idea and it was reported that the government of New Zealand did, as well. The Monarchist League of Canada
Monarchist League of Canada
The Monarchist League of Canada is a national, non-partisan, non-profit organization whose mission is "to promote the full expression and a better understanding of the history and real benefits of a uniquely Canadian constitutional monarchy"....

 said at the time to the media that it "supports amending the Act of Settlement in order to modernize the succession rules."

Later the same year, the Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Nick Clegg
Nick Clegg
Nicholas William Peter "Nick" Clegg is a British Liberal Democrat politician who is currently the Deputy Prime Minister, Lord President of the Council and Minister for Constitutional and Political Reform in the coalition government of which David Cameron is the Prime Minister...

, announced that the government was considering a change in the law. At approximately the same time, it was reported that British Prime Minister David Cameron
David Cameron
David William Donald Cameron is the current Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service and Leader of the Conservative Party. Cameron represents Witney as its Member of Parliament ....

 had written to each of the prime ministers of the other fifteen Commonwealth realms, asking for their support in changing the succession to absolute primogeniture and notifying them he would raise his proposals at that year's Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2011
The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2011, commonly known as CHOGM 2011, was the twenty-second Meeting of the Heads of Government of the Commonwealth of Nations...

 (CHOGM) in Perth, Australia. Cameron reportedly also proposed removing the restriction on successors marrying Catholics and being raised as Catholics; however, potential Catholic successors would be required to convert to Anglicanism prior to acceding to the throne. In reaction to the letter and media coverage, Harper stated that, this time, he was "supportive" of what he saw as "reasonable modernizations".

At CHOGM on 28 October 2011, the prime ministers of the other Commonwealth realms agreed to support Cameron's proposed changes to the act. The bill put before the Parliament of the United Kingdom would act as a model for the legislation required to be passed in at least some of the other realms, and any changes would only first take effect if the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, were to have a daughter before a son.

The British group Republic
Republic (political organisation)
Republic is a British non-partisan republican pressure group advocating the replacement of the United Kingdom's monarchy with a democratically-elected head of state....

 asserted succession reform would not make the monarchy any less discriminatory. As it welcomed the gender equality reforms, the British newspaper The Guardian
The Guardian
The Guardian, formerly known as The Manchester Guardian , is a British national daily newspaper in the Berliner format...

criticized the lack of a proposal to remove the ban on Catholics sitting on the throne, as did Alex Salmond
Alex Salmond
Alexander Elliot Anderson "Alex" Salmond MSP is a Scottish politician and current First Minister of Scotland. He became Scotland's fourth First Minister in May 2007. He is the Leader of the Scottish National Party , having served as Member of the Scottish Parliament for Gordon...

, First Minister of Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

, who pointed out that "It is deeply disappointing that the reform [of the Act of Settlement of 1701] has stopped short of removing the unjustifiable barrier on a Catholic becoming monarch". On the subject, Cameron asserted: "Let me be clear, the monarch must be in communion with the Church of England because he or she is the head of that Church
Supreme Governor of the Church of England
The Supreme Governor of the Church of England is a title held by the British monarchs which signifies their titular leadership over the Church of England. Although the monarch's authority over the Church of England is not strong, the position is still very relevant to the church and is mostly...

."

See also

  • List of Australian monarchs
  • List of British monarchs
  • List of Canadian monarchs
  • List of New Zealand monarchs
  • Line of succession to the British throne
    Line of succession to the British Throne
    The line of succession to the British throne is the ordered sequence of those people eligible to succeed to the throne of the United Kingdom and the other 15 Commonwealth realms. By the terms of the Act of Settlement 1701, the succession is limited to the descendants of the Electress Sophia of...

  • Succession to the British throne
    Succession to the British Throne
    Succession to the British throne is governed both by common law and statute. Under common law the crown is currently passed on by male-preference primogeniture. In other words, succession passes first to an individual's sons, in order of birth, and subsequently to daughters, again in order of birth....

  • History of the British line of succession
    History of the British line of succession
    The first ten people in the line of succession to the British throne at the time of death or abdication of each monarch are shown.-Anne:The Act of Union 1707, which united the thrones of Scotland and England, extended the Act of Settlement to Scotland...

  • Alternative successions of the English crown
  • Jacobitism
    Jacobitism
    Jacobitism was the political movement in Britain dedicated to the restoration of the Stuart kings to the thrones of England, Scotland, later the Kingdom of Great Britain, and the Kingdom of Ireland...


External links