Future monarch need not be Anglican, say Fabians

A future monarch need not be a member of the Anglican Church, and minor royals ought to "go out and get a job", a radical report on the monarchy recommended yesterday.

The Fabian Commission, which received Buckingham Palace's co-operation during its inquiry, also called for the monarch to be allowed to retire, opening the way for younger members of the Royal Family to accede.

In the report, which its authors believe will be looked on favourably by the Royal Family, the Fabians called for it to "become better adapted to the norms of contemporary society" and said a Roman Catholic should be able to marry a future king or queen.

A future monarch need no longer be head of the Anglican Church and would not be barred from reigning if he or she were a Buddhist, a Muslim, a Jew or a Hindu, it said. Any future coronation ceremony could be entirely secular or "reflect the faith - if any - of the incoming monarch or, as Prince Charles has suggested, reflect all faiths".

The report concluded that although the Royal Family was "value for money", its political powers should be removed. The monarchy should be stripped of the power to appoint the prime minister and give royal assent to laws.

MPs should no longer have to take the oath of allegiance to the Crown before they take their seat in the House of Commons. Parliament should be able to discuss the monarchy without making a "humble address" or asking the king's or queen's permission.

"The present symbolic superiority of the unelected sovereign over the elected Parliament - in effect making Parliament an institution of the monarch rather than of the citizens - is no longer appropriate in a modern democracy," the report said.

It said the principle that sons of sovereigns and their descendants have precedence over daughters in succeeding to the throne should be abolished. The commission also called for members of the Royal Family to pay income tax and inheritance tax. The Royal Family's country estates, including Balmoral and Sandringham, should be subject to capital gains tax and inheritance tax.

The royal art collections and crown properties should be clearly defined as owned by the nation. They should be opened more widely to public visitors. The report also said minor royals should no longer perform public duties, which would be restricted to the monarch and his or her spouse, their children and the children of the heir to the throne.

The commission found that 23 other members of the Royal Family received state money to do public duties. Asked what would happen to minor royals such as the Duke of York or the Earl of Wessex, David Bean QC, the chairman of the commission, said they would have "to go out and get a job".

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