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While its occurrence during National Princess Week is a total coincidence, it’s a great day for the future of British princesses, as the Succession to the Crown Bill passed the House of Lords today. This means that if William and Kate’s first child is a girl, she will become Queen regardless of whether she has any younger brothers. The bill also amends the Act of Settlement 1701 (which removed any royal who married a Catholic from the line of succession) and repeals the Royal Marriages Act 1772 (which required the consent of the monarch for all marriages for descendants of Sophia of Hanover, nearest Protestant relative of Queen Anne of Great Britain).
The new bill allows those royals who marry Catholics to remain in the line of succession (though, due to the monarch’s role as Supreme Governor of the Church of England, Catholics still may not inherit the Crown), and only requires the first six people in the line of succession to obtain the monarch’s consent to marry. Under this bill, Prince Edward’s children, Lady Louise Windsor and Viscount Severn, will be able to marry whomever they want, without ever needing consent from the Crown.
The bill, while being retroactively dated to October 2011, does not apply retroactively beyond that, so Princess Anne and her descendants will not jump ahead of her younger brothers in the line of succession, and it does not apply to any other peerages, so Prince Andrew’s daughters will not be able to inherit the Duchy of York and Lady Louise will not be able to inherit her father’s titles since she has a younger brother.
The only step that remains is for the Queen to give Royal Assent, but that has not been scheduled yet. (I expect it to occur before the baby is due in July.) Royal Assent is essentially a formality, though it is required before a bill can become law.
If you’d like to learn more about the bill, you can read about it here and track its progress here.