Britain to Ax Ban on Catholic Monarchs

Female heirs will also have the same rights as male counterparts
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 25, 2008 4:41 AM CDT
Queen Elizabeth II is assisted by her husband, Prince Philip, as she arrives at the Sovereign Entrance to the House of Lords in London.   (AP Photo/Cathal McNaughton, pool)
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(Newser) – The British government is planning a royal shake-up of the laws governing who can become king or queen, the Guardian reports. The 300-year-old law currently in place bars Catholics or their spouses from taking the throne, and gives male heirs priority over women; both are targeted for change. Critics say the laws are firmly at odds with modern human rights.

The Catholic ban has prevented dozens of people from taking their place in the line of succession to the throne, most recently Prince Michael of Kent, who married a Catholic. A constitutional lawyer hailed the move to ditch the "arcane and archaic legislation" that "enshrined religious intolerance." The next step should be to shoot down the notion that heredity must determine who heads the state, he said.