|Parliament House in Perth, Western Australia|
These legal changes were agreed to in principal by the 16 countries in which Queen Elizabeth II is head of state at the 2011 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Perth, Australia. Once enacted by all Commonwealth realms, the new laws will replace male preference primogeniture with absolute primogeniture for the descendants of Prince Charles and anyone else in the succession born after October 28, 2011. This means that females will no longer be leap-fogged by their younger brothers (as has happened numerous times over the centuries). In addition, the reformed laws will end the disqualification of members of the royal family who marry Roman Catholics, and limit the need for the monarch's consent for royal marriages to the first six people in the line of succession. However, the prohibition on Catholic's becoming monarchs remains, and monarchs must be in communion with the Church of England.
The United Kingdom, Canada, Jamaica, New Zealand, and most of the other realms have already either passed their new laws or have asserted that their constitutions either implicitly or explicitly state that the lawful succession in those countries automatically mirrors the succession laws in the United Kingdom, and that there is therefore no requirement to pass new legislation.
|Coat of Arms of the Commonwealth of Australia|
In Australia, the laws governing succession are embedded at the Federal (national) and State levels, and therefore each State Parliament and the Federal Parliament in Canberra had to act. At a meeting of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in April 2013, it was agreed that each of the six Australian States will pass legislation enabling the Federal Parliament to make the necessary changes for Australia and six states. However, Queensland and (apparently) Western Australia have opted to make changes to their own State laws as well as requesting the Federal Parliament to do the same.
Western Australia and South Australia are currently the only States that have yet to pass the enabling legislation. Once this happens - and the bills receive Royal Assent to become law - the Federal Parliament in Canberra will pass its own legislation to change the royal succession and marriage laws, and upon the passage of this legislation, the process will be complete in Australia.
After Australia, the remaining Commonwealth realms that have not officially enacted the new succession laws are: the Bahamas, Barbados, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
Barbados and Saint Kitts and Nevis have passed succession bills that are currently awaiting Royal Assent.
|Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada in Toronto in 2010. Under the current succession laws, |
she would not have bee Queen if her parents had had a son after she was born.
The others have agreed to the reforms in principle, but have not yet taken formal action (though it is believed that they may follow the lead of Jamaica and other realms that have asserted that domestic legislation is not necessary on the grounds that the UK succession automatically mirrors the succession in their countries).
However, in anticipation that some realms may take longer than others, the Commonwealth leaders also agreed that the changes would come into force only after being enacted in all of the realms, and that they will retroactively take effect on October 28, 2011 – reflecting the time at which the succession changes were agreed to in principle during the CHOGM in Perth.
With the birth of a boy – Prince George – there has now been little impetus to immediately change the law in some realms since the effect will be moot for at least another generation. However, with the Australian process one step closer to completion, hopefully the remaining realms will act as soon as possible.
Photo Credit: Nachoman-au via Wikimedia Commons cc, David (dbking) via Flickr cc