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Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgharrive for the opening ceremony of the 2011 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, in Perth, Western Australia Tim Rooke/PA Wire/Press Association Images

"Outdated" succession law set to be changed

A change in succession laws in Commonwealth countries means male heirs no longer can take the throne ahead of their older sisters.

BRITISH MONARCHS WILL be allowed to marry Catholics once current legislation is updated.

And at a meeting today, the 16 Commonwealth countries for which Queen Elizabeth II is monarch agreed at a meeting in Perth that males will no longer have precedence over females in the order of succession to the throne.

Any one of the former British colonies could have vetoed the changes to the centuries-old rules that ensure that a male heir takes the throne ahead of older sisters.

British Prime Minister David Cameron told reporters in Perth:

Attitudes have changed fundamentally over the centuries and some of the outdated rules — like some of the rules of succession — just don’t make sense to us any more.
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.

The announcement was made on the first day of a biennial meeting of 53 Commonwealth leaders.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Australia’s first female leader and chairwoman of the summit, welcomed the decision.

Elizabeth II opened the meeting of leaders – who represent 30 percent of the world’s population – today by vowing to bring needed relevancy to the Commonwealth in a time of global uncertainty and insecurity.

She cited financial concerns, food supply insecurity and climate change among key issues she expected the forum to tackle.

The Queen also said the meeting would bring “new vibrancy” to the Commonwealth forum, which will be forced to defend itself against accusations of irrelevancy.

A report questioning its effectiveness will be presented to Commonwealth leaders during the summit.

Britain’s government began the process of reviewing the rules of royal succession so that if Prince William’s first child with wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, is a girl, she would eventually become queen.

William is second in line to the throne after his father, Prince Charles, who is the queen’s first-born child.

Charles’ sister Anne is lower in the line of succession than her younger brothers Andrew and Edward. Charles, in turn, had only sons, William and Harry.

Elizabeth II succeeded her father, King George VI, because he had no sons. If she had had a brother, however much younger he was, he would have jumped above her in the line of succession.

Buckingham Palace has always refrained from commenting on the political issue, saying it’s a matter for the government to decide.

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Associated Foreign Press
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