Friday, October 28, 2011

Reforms Overturn Law That Bans Monarch From Marrying a Catholic

By Tim Shipman and Damien Gayle Girls born to members of the Royal Family are to be given equal rights with boys in the succession to the throne as centuries-old rules were overturned today.

As the historic changes to the monarchy were agreed, the Queen, at the Commonwealth summit in Perth, Australia, hailed the power of women to change the world.

The reforms mean the if the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's first child is a girl, she will take precedence over any younger brothers in the order of succession...

The 16 Commonwealth 'realms', including the UK, Canada and Australia, also agreed to scrap outdated laws which ban anyone in the line of succession from marrying a Roman Catholic.

The changes were announced by Prime Minister David Cameron at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth....


Franz, Duke of Bavaria, could have ended up on the British throne had laws been differentFranz, Duke of Bavaria, could have ended up on the British throne had laws been different

Had an 18th Century law not been passed by Parliament, Britain's monarchy throughout the past 300 years would have had a very different cast of characters.

For starters, rather than becoming one of the most recognisable faces in the world, our present Queen would have spent her life as a minor princess in some German backwater.

And instead of pledging allegiance to Elizabeth II, loyal British subjects would now be singing God Save Our Gracious King to... Francis II of Bavaria.

The 1701 Act Of Settlement passed the crown to Electress Sophia of Hanover and her Protestant descendants - and banned all Roman Catholics from ever ascending the throne.

That law - and the centuries-old practice of male primogeniture, in which a male child automatically leapfrogs over his older sisters - has largely dictated who became King or Queen of Britain for centuries.

But according to historian Ian Lloyd writing in the Sunday Times, had these ancient laws not been adopted, Francis II would now be ruling Brittania.

Franz, Duke of Bavaria, is a distant cousin of the Queen and head of the House of Wittelsbach, Bavaria's ruling family. He is the senior co-heir-general of King Charles I and therefore regarded as the rightful heir to the House of Stuart, which ruled England from 1567 to 1707. From birth Franz was recognised by the Jacobites as a Prince of England, Scotland, France and Ireland, Prince of Cornwall and Rothesay.

The Duke's great-grandfather was the last king of Bavaria before being deposed at the end of World War One in 1918.

During World War Two, the Dukes' family condemned the Nazi regime and fled to Hungary. When Hitler's stormtroopers marched into Budapest in 1944, the Royal Family was arrested and detained in a number of concentration camps.

Following liberation in 1945, Franz, studied business management at the University of Munich. Now 78, he still lives in an apartment in the city and is a keen collector of modern art.