HM Queen Elizabeth II opened the 54-nation Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) on Friday where a wide range of issues are on the docket to be discussed. Host Prime Minister Julia Gillard opened the meeting with a call for change: “The world has changed, and wise institution changes too.” She discussed how the body must “pursue our timeless values in a world of change”. HM Queen Elizabeth was thrilled to be in Perth for the gathering “that promises to bring new vibrancy to the Commonwealth”. To be discussed are topics of an extremely serious nature – an independent body to monitor human rights within the Commonwealth, a decriminalization of homosexuals, and moves to prevent forced marriages of young girls. Most talked about in the press, however, have been the proposed changes to the line of succession to the British throne. The proposed changes will remove the male preference, eliminate the ban on those in the line marrying a Catholic, and remove the need for the monarch to approve marriages of people well down the line. The current rules on the royal succession are in several different pieces of legislation passed in the 17th and 18th Centuries, including the Act of Settlement. Should the changes be applied retroactively, HRH the Princess Royal will move to fourth in the line of succession with her children Peter and Zara, both untitled, fifth and seventh respectively. Prime Minister David Cameron is leading the effort:
“The idea that a younger son should become Monarch instead of an elder daughter, simply because he is a man just isn’t acceptable any more. Nor does it make any sense that a potential Monarch can marry someone of any faith other than Catholic.”
There is no known objection from any of the nations who have the monarch as their Head of State (which does not include all Commonwealth countries). Australia, the host nation, is a firm supporter of the changes with Prime Minister Gillard saying:
“You would expect me, as the first female Prime Minister of our nation, to say I believe women are equal to men in all regards. I do support a change to the Act of Succession, which would enable the person who succeeds to the throne to be the oldest child, irrespective of gender.”
Prime Minister Cameron will put forward the changes then the group will need to draft agreeable language, then return to their host countries and each pass the change individually. HM the Queen is said to be completely supportive of the changes.
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