So conversations are underway between the Prime Minister and Buckingham Palace that may result in getting rid of the 1701 Act of Settlement which bans members of the RoyalFamily marrying Roman Catholics- unless they give up their claim to the throne. just last year Autumn Kelly had to renounce her Catholicism before she could marry Peter Philips- Princess Anne’ son. Gordon Brown who is reported as having described the law as an “anomaly that has no place in the 21st century”, is also keen the end the law that gives men priority over their older sisters in the Royal line of ssuccession. So is this 308 year-old pillar of the constitution, and primogeniture(the automatic precedence of men over women in linefor the throne) an offence against equality and human rights? It has been said by some that the trouble withpulling down pillars of the constitution is that you never know what may fall withthem? It is said that the current thinking would still mean that the monarch would still be required to be an protestant- but is that really sustainable if this changes come into place? Although Buckingham Palace are said to be open to dialogue on the issue their official response says, “This is a matter for the government and we would not comment any further about it.” Changes would also need theapproval of all countries where the Queen is head of state. We have gradually seen the advance of equality and human rights open up all sorts of roles for people previously excluded because of theirgeneder, disability, colour, religion or sexual orientation- so is the current Act of Succession really the last bastion of old fashioned prejudice and exclusion?
Throughout history we have seen various monarchiesmove from being viewed as deities through to the divine right of kings, to the current arrangement of an emasculated (pardon the pun) constitutional monarchy tolerated by a democratically elected government, chosen by the pubic to serve them. Here in the UK we love our royal family and see their continued existence as part and parcel of our national heritage- there is no realg roundswell to oust the royalfamily and replace them with a president or lead a revolutionary mob up the Mall to demand the resignation of the Queen. But how would all this effect Christianity- with monarchs since Henry VIII enthroned as the supreme governor of hje Church of England and the defender of the faith which is our birthright? Would this lead to the disestablishment of the Church and would this have a negative impact on a faith which many see is under threat from our increasingly secular and post-modern society?
Perhaps the church shouldn’t get worked up by these changes. The Archbishop of Canterbury has been reported as saying that disestablishment “wouldn’t be the end of the world.” Perhaps he was reflecting on the words of Jesus from John- “My kingdom is not from this world.” Perhaps we need not worry too much about who wears the state crown, or the Archbishop’s mitre or Papal cap, but encourage more of our citizens (or subjects if you prefer) to aspire to wear the promised crown of life presented to us by a saviour who puts everyone first, a true servant king.