What if it's a girl? The constitutional dilemma facing Prince William and a pregnant Kate Middleton

Our diarist on the complications of State that the newest addition to the Windsors will have to confront. Also below: small mercies for the Lib Dems after a recent trouncing

Share
Related Topics

The big constitutional question hanging over Kate Middleton’s belly right now is what if it’s a girl. The short answer is she will escape the fate of other firstborn princesses who had to stand aside and watch their younger brothers succeed to the throne. Technically, the primogeniture rule, which gives all a monarch’s sons precedence over any of his daughters, still applies, but it will be gone long before the unborn child’s great grandmother, grandfather and father have died.

David Cameron secured an agreement at the Commonwealth Conference in Australia last October that all the countries who recognise the Queen as head of state will alter their constitutions simultaneously, a process now being co-ordinated by the New Zealand government. There was some impatience expressed with the slow progress of this procedure when MPs debated it two weeks ago, but we should not blame the New Zealanders.

An already complex issue and is made more so because the Commonwealth governments are simultaneously going to abolish the law which excludes from the line of succession any royal who marries a Roman Catholic. This involves repealing parts of a long list of ancient laws, including the Bill of Rights 1688, the Coronation Oath Act 1688, the Union with Scotland Act 1707, the Princess Sophia's Precedence Act 1711, the Royal Marriages Act 1772, the Union with Ireland Act 1800, the Accession Declaration Act 1910, and the Regency Act 1937.

But the main point is that it will happen, and if the Duchess’s bump is a girl, not only will she follow directly behind her father in the line of succession, but she can marry a Roman Catholic too, if she wishes.

Unlucky day

Lucy Powell, Manchester’s first woman Labour MP, let it be known yesterday morning that she is pregnant - Manchester’s first pregnant Labour MP indeed. In the light of a later announcement, she realised that she had picked a bad day to bury good news.

UnMenschionable

If you were wondering what Conservative MPs were saying on Twitter yesterday about the royal pregnancy, the quick way to find out was to go into a Twitter feed called “Conservative MPs” which collates the tweets of all 127 of them who are on Twitter. I did, and was startled to come upon the thoughts of one Louise Mensch. Apparently, there is a corner of Conservative Central Office where Mrs Mensch is forever an MP.

Pope's surge

Pope Benedict XVI was picking up followers by the tens of thousands on Twitter yesterday before he had written his first tweet and despite the fact that he is not following anyone except himself, in seven languages. Ladbrokes, the bookies were offering odds of 2-1 that he will have a million by 1 January.

Small mercies

A number of commentators, including your diarist, described the Liberal Democrat performance at last week’s Rotherham by-election as the worst ever by any party of government. That is on the basis of their coming eighth, behind a parade of fringe party candidates and assorted oddities.

But curiously, if you measure their achievement by the percentage of total votes cast that went their way, 2.1 per cent, that was actually better than Labour did in a by-election in Winchester in 1997 when they picked up 1.7 per cent of a much bigger turn out. That was a very odd by-election, called because the result had been so close at the general election that a court ordered a re-run, whereupon Labour voters shifted to the Lib Dem to keep the Tory out. No one can be certain that the embarrassingly support shown for the Lib Dems last week was caused by one-off tactical voting, but still, it’s a small thought to cheer Nick Clegg’s beleaguered troops.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Business Development Manager / Sales

£30 - 40k (£65k Y1 OTE Uncapped): Guru Careers: We are seeking a Business Deve...

Guru Careers: Graduate Media Assistant

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: We are looking for an ambitious and adaptable...

Guru Careers: Solutions Consultant

£30 - 40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Solutions Consultan...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£30 - 35k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

If I were Prime Minister: I'd give tax cuts to the rich, keep Trident, and get my football team wrong

Frankie Boyle
 

Election catch-up: Blairites for and against a Miliband victory

John Rentoul
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before