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A King or a Queen - The Law of Succession

Following the recent marriage of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, the expectation of children in the future raises the question of succession.

Succession to the British Throne is passed on by “male–preference primogeniture”. The rule has been in place for over 300 years and means male children are preferred over female children and an older child is preferred over a younger child of the same gender.

The British Government is currently consulting with Commonwealth countries about changing the laws on Royal Succession to enable an older sister to succeed over a younger brother. The current rules could block the succession of a firstborn daughter of Prince William and Catherine Middleton.

Our own Prime Minister has said he agrees that the current rules are “old fashioned”. However, because the British Monarch is also head of state of Canada, Australia, nine countries in the Caribbean, three in the South Pacific as well as New Zealand, any amendment to the rule would have to be approved by all these countries.

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