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Britain mulls changes to royal rules of succession

As the royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton approaches, the British government is looking at changing the law on the royal line of succession, bringing a measure of gender equality into the picture.

Prince William and Kate Middleton during a visit to the St Andrews Museum, where they viewed the Papal Bull in St Andrews Scotland Friday February 25, 2011. William and Kate who first met whilst studying at the University of St Andrews helped mark the start of the 600th anniversary of the university's foundation. The couple will be married at Westminster Abbey on April 29. (AP Photo/Andrew Milligan/Pool)

The rules of royal succession discriminate against women

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said on Saturday, April 16, that the current 300-year-old law defining royal succession was "a little old-fashioned."

Under the current law, male royal heirs have prior claim to the throne, even if they have older sisters. Clegg, who is responsible for constitutional reform, was visiting the northern city of Sheffield.

"Prince William and Catherine Middleton might have a baby daughter for instance as their first child," he said.

"I think most people in this day and age would think it's worth considering whether we change the rules so that baby girl could become the future monarch."

Legal hurdles

It's not such a simple thing, however, to change the rules of royal succession.

"It's quite a complex issue, because it's not just up to the United Kingdom, that's of course something that affects other countries in the Commonwealth and elsewhere and that's why we are in discussions with them," Clegg told reporters.

There are a total of 16 Commonwealth nations including Great Britain that would need to pass legislation changing the law.

Queen Elizabeth II, the current monarch, is only on the throne because she had no brothers. If Prince Charles had died without children, Prince Andrew would have been next in line to the throne, bypassing Queen Elizabeth's second child, Princess Anne.

Prince William will marry Kate at Westminster Abbey on April 29.

Author: Stuart Tiffen (Reuters, AFP)
Editor: Toma Tasovac

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