A fallback position in case American democracy completely implodes is to just apologize for the Revolution and see if the British monarch would take us back. But now it seems that the British monarchy itself is becoming democratic and open to change. Now the Crown will go not to the first born son but to the first born:
Sons and daughters of British monarchs will have an equal right to the throne under changes to the United Kingdom’s succession laws agreed to Friday, British Prime Minister David Cameron said.
The leaders of the 16 Commonwealth countries that have the queen as head of state approved the changes unanimously at a Commonwealth of Nations summit in Australia, he said. The individual governments of those 16 countries still must agree to the changes for them to take effect.
The constitutional changes would mean a first-born girl has precedence over a younger brother. They also mean that a future British monarch would be allowed to marry a Catholic.
The laws would apply to any future children of Prince William and Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, who married this year.
Speaking alongside his Australian counterpart Julia Gillard in Perth, Cameron described Friday’s agreement by the heads of government of the 16 nations as “something of a historic moment.”
Attitudes have changed fundamentally over the centuries, he said in a televised address, and outdated rules should evolve with them.
“The idea that a younger son should become monarch instead of an elder daughter simply because he is a man, or that a future monarch can marry someone of any faith except a Catholic — this way of thinking is at odds with the modern countries that we have become,” he said.
“Put simply, if the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were to have a little girl, that girl would one day be our queen.”
Cameron also referred to plans to scrap the Act of Settlement, a law passed in 1701 which bans the UK monarch from marrying a Catholic. It was intended to ensure that Protestants held the throne and remained head of the Church of England.
“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, but it is simply wrong that they should be denied the chance to marry a Catholic if they wish to do so,” Cameron said. “After all, they’re already quite free to marry someone of any other faith.”
Hat tip to tODD, who comments, “Maybe it’s just me, but I haven’t seen a lot of coverage of this in my world. I realize the monarchy is just a shell of its former self … and yet, this seems like a big deal to me. Just like that, the whole anti-Catholic nature of the succession rules is gone. Given the relationship between the monarchy and the Church of England, I actually consider that more interesting than the fact that a first-born female could inherit the throne before her younger brothers.”
What strikes me is that the decision was made not by the Crown and not even by Parliament, but by the Commonwealth nations. That is, England’s colonies! What kind of empire is it when the colonies get to decide who gets to be the Emperor or Empress? What kind of monarchy can change its operation like this? A pretty good one, I guess.