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Is there anything Kate and Wills can't do?
The mere possibility that the beloved royal couple could one day have a baby girl appears to have been enough to help prod Commonwealth leaders to toss out an embarrassingly anachronistic law determining succession to the British throne.
We'll let Prime Minister David Cameron explain the big takeaway under the new tweaks to the monarchy: "Put simply, if the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were to have a little girl, that girl would one day be our queen." In other words, sons of future monarchs no longer get to cut in line for the throne, as daughters will have equal right to the crown. Previously, women only ascended should the monarch have no eligible, living sons.
That change was announced Friday on the first day of a biennial meeting of leaders from the 53 Commonwealth countries, who represent 30 percent of the world’s population, according to the Associated Press. The other noteworthy changes allow heirs to marry Roman Catholics, and descendents of George II to marry without getting the consent of the Queen.
The British government began reviewing the succession rules before William married Kate Middleton (who is now formally known as Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge), but with an eye toward the possibility that William's first child could be female.
But don’t entirely blame the infamous stodginess of the monarchy for how long the changes have taken: The legal procedures required to alter the line of succession are nearly mummified in red tape. The AP reports that each of the 16 Commonwealth countries with the Queen as its head of state must push the reform through their own legal processes, which will require "several" pieces of legislation in Britain alone.
One old rule kept intact will continue to bar Catholics from actually ascending to the monarchy. As Cameron explained, "Let me be clear, the monarch must be in communion with the Church of England because he or she is the head of that Church.”
Despite high praise from Australia’s Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who said that the change "equals equality for women in a new area," many are left questioning the relevance of it all.
The BBC notes that Republic – a campaign group in the UK who support an elected head of state – said the changes amount to "nothing of substance" adding: "The monarchy discriminates against every man, woman and child who isn't born into the Windsor family. To suggest that this has anything to do with equality is utterly absurd."