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.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Adjusting the Succession

The announcement of an agreement amongst the governments of all Her Majesty's realms to amend the law regarding the Succession, as reported here and here raises several thoughts.

First of all, such an agreement, apparently arrived at quite speedily, gives the lie to the long-standing argument that the law could not be changed due to the impossibility of getting legislation through all the respective Parliaments. Given that it has still to pass, nonetheless this move indicates a willingness to move as one.

The process reflects a mood of a renewed, positive view of the Monarchy in the wake of the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and notably in some of the leading Commonwealth realms - as detailed for Canada in The Monarchist blog and it can be seen, in a slightly quirky way, in the response to Miss Gillard not cutseying to her Queen in Australia. Such a trend in opinion is good in itself.

As to the changes themselves the removal of the ban on marriage to a Catholic is good, removing a piece of discrimination, and also widening the potential marriage arena. In Canada and Australia that should help resonate with substantial sections of the population.

Retaining an insistance on the Monarch not being Catholic may be politically and ecclesially judicious at present, but given that the Sovereign's role as Supreme Governor in practical terms is fornally issuing the conge d'elire to elect Bishops and receiving their homage, and signing into law the Measures which having passed unchanged through Parliamnet representing the latest daft ideas of the General Syond it is no different from their position as Monarch in temporal affairs. So a Catholic could do that as well as an extension of the Monarch's duties. That is not to say that the Monarch does not have an important part to play by their personal support of Christianity - The Queen has been exemplary in this matter.

Enabling females to succeed in direct relation to their order of birth is something I am a little wary about, but taht may be that I am not someone who likes the look of changes of this sort. Applying such changes to the descendents of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge means that members of the Royal Family can be prepared from birth for their likely responsibilities, not having to adjust in later life, as has been the case in some other European Monarchies that have changed their succession law recently.

In reality the last time such a legal provision would have affected the succession would have been in 1901, and we must presume that had the law been in place in the earlier nineteenth century the Princess Royal would not have married abroad....

Fortunately, and ultimately, it depends on genetics rather than on politicians, and its effective intoduction is at some hypothetical date in the future, and at least two more reigns away.

A friend and I agreed there is one other point - what about peerages? Now that, alas, they no longer carry admission as of right to a seat the House of Lords - and there is, shamefully, legislation going through to remove the remaining hereditaries - and women were admitted to seat there in 1958, could not, or should not, legislation allow such titles of honour to descend in the female line?

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