Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Tuesday 26 April 2011

Reforming the Act of Settlement

I am not sure if I always agree with Damian Thompson, but he has an interesting post in
Did Lambeth Palace block the reform of the Act of Settlement? Or was it Buckingham Palace?
Once again I am not sure if I agree with him entirely, but it makes for interesting and thought provoking reading.

When it comes to dealing with the exclusion clauses of the Act( and that is what it was designed to do - exclude) I think that it is not as difficult to do as some would have us believe. As I undwerstand it the Statute of Westminster of 1931 applies the same succession to the other realms that applies in the United Kingdom. Clearly any change needs to be approved by the Crown in Parliament of Canada, of Australia, of New Zealand and of the other realms, but the principle is there.

To remove the anti-Catholic bias could surely be done by enacting that those clauses no longer apply to the descendents of a particular Sovereign. So it could be applied to the descendents of the Queen, or her grandfather King George V - the King who in effect created the House of Windsor, and in whose reign the 1931 Statute was enacted - and this would re-integrate the members of the Kent branch who are currently excluded. The antiquated nature of the 1701 Act is shown by the fact that the Duke of Kent himself is not excluded by his Duchess' conversion to Catholicism as the Act does not envisage a spouse converting to Rome subsequent to the marriage. A more generous reform would be to extend it to Queen Victoria's descendents.

So far as Canada, Australia, or for that matter Northern Ireland, are concerend such achange could be seen as removing an issue which might be considered to offend some of Her Majesty's subjects.

As far as the Church of England is concerned the possibility of a Roman Catholic Supreme Governor would doubtless remain remote, and given the nature of the exercise of the Royal Supremacy, hardly threatening. Given the way the Church of England appears to be going, and the odd opinions of at least some bishops and clergy on Establishment and Monarchy, such a change would be no serious problem, and might actually make them appreciate what they do possess in living in a system of Christian Kingship.

As to how important the whole question is remains open - the succession appears safe and assured, and the modern obsession of some with equality, fairness removing discrimionation and potential offence and such like is one promoted, at least in part, by those who are no freinds to Monarchy, or Catholicism, or Christianity. That said I think a sensible reform could be achieved if there was good will, and that may be the missing element.

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