Succession to the Crown Bill 2012-13

Published 19 December 2012

The Succession to the Crown Bill would make changes so that gender would no longer play a part in determining the order of succession to the Crown, and so that a person marrying a Roman Catholic would no longer be barred from becoming or remaining monarch. It would also remove a requirement for descendants of George II to seek permission from the monarch to marry, replacing it with a requirement for the first six people in the line of succession to seek consent if they wish to remain in line to the throne. This Paper discusses the existing rules, the changes proposed by the Bill, and the process among the 16 states of which the Queen is Head of State to make the changes together.

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The Bill would change the rules governing succession to the Crown in two ways. First, there would be no gender discrimination in determining succession, in contrast to the present rules, under which brothers stand ahead of sisters in line to the throne even if they are younger. Secondly, a person marrying a Roman Catholic would no longer be barred from becoming or remaining monarch.

The Bill would also remove a requirement for descendants of George II to seek permission to marry from the monarch, and replace it with a broadly similar requirement for the first six people in the line of succession.

The provisions in the Bill build on a consensus for change among those states of which the Queen is Head of State, which was embodied in a declaration at the Perth Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in October 2011. Those states have now indicated that they are ready to move forward with implementation of changes in their own laws to reflect the new UK arrangements. The Bill will be brought into force once the necessary measures have been taken abroad, with the intention that all the changes will commence simultaneously.

The Bill will have retrospective effect, so that a child born after 28 October 2011 will be subject to the new arrangements on gender, and marriages to Roman Catholics, including those already contracted, will not lead to disqualification for any person alive when the Bill comes into force.

The Bill extends to the whole of the UK and, by necessary implication, to the Crown Dependencies and British Overseas Territories.

Commons Briefing papers RP12-81

Author: Paul Bowers

Topics: Constitution, Crown

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