Long wait for succession rule to take effect
Friday 28 October 2011
The ancient rules of royal succession have handed men the balance of power for hundreds of years.
Women have still managed to accede to the throne, even becoming the country's longest-serving monarchs - Queen Victoria and the current Queen Elizabeth II.
But now, with the 15 other Commonwealth nations where the Queen is head of state backing the modernisation, first-born royal daughters in direct line to the throne will no longer be leapfrogged by their younger male siblings.
The radical shake-up to the way the monarchy works was spurred on by the marriage of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge earlier this year.
If William and Kate's first child happens to be a girl, she will automatically become queen one day, regardless of whether she has a younger brother.
Yet it is still likely to be many years before another female monarch takes to the throne.
The Royal Family already has two generations of kings-in-waiting and the Queen is celebrating her Diamond Jubilee next year and in good health. Her own mother, the Queen Mother, lived to 101.
Heir apparent the Prince of Wales is next in line and then there is William, who has still to fulfil his regal duties before any child of his takes over.
Even then, William and Kate might have a son, meaning the nation would wait even longer to see the first royal daughter to benefit from the rule change.
But the fact that the laws will be updated brings an essential equality of the sexes to the British monarchy which did not exist before and which will in time change history.
As for the current members of the Royal Family, there will be no switching around.
Any new law is not expected to be retrospective - the Princess Royal would still be placed below her two younger brothers, the Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex.
For some, the changes do not go far enough.
Republic, which campaigns for a directly-elected ceremonial head of state, said they still failed the "equality test".
Campaign manager Graham Smith said: "In practice, it simply means that the eldest child of one family is preferred over all others. Inequality is therefore further entrenched in the system."
- 1 Apple has installed security backdoors on 600m iPhones and iPads, claims security researcher
- 2 UK pirates will get four warning letters a year
- 4 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
- 5 Israel-Gaza conflict: Deadly flechette shells 'used by Israeli military in Gaza Strip’
Hacking Trial: Rebekah Brooks, Raisa and a new twist in the saga of a horse fit for a Prime Minister
Israel-Gaza conflict: Palestinian death toll now exceeds 500 – but Israel fights on
Income tax league: Revealed - the UK towns where people pay the most and least tax
Israel-Gaza conflict: Deadly flechette shells 'used by Israeli military in Gaza Strip’
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Blogger captures footage ‘showing BUK missile launcher that shot down jet’ now back in Russia
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash: 'Nine Britons, 23 Americans and 80 children' feared dead after Boeing passenger jet is 'shot down' near Ukraine-Russia border
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains
Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...
Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...
£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...
£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire