Gordon Brown's office and Buckingham Palace are considering changes to centuries-old laws that bar Catholics from the British throne and give male heirs precedence over female ones. The royal family is said to be open to changing the succession laws, and all 53 countries in the British commonwealth are to be consulted. The PM said that while the sovereign will remain head of the Anglican Church, "in the 21st century people do expect discrimination to be removed."
If they were retrospective, the proposed new laws would place Princess Anne, the Queen's only daughter, 4th in line to the throne—behind her brother Charles and his sons William and Harry, but ahead of her younger brothers. The new rules also would return to the line of succession family members who married Catholics. Sweden, Belgium, and the Netherlands have all changed royal succession laws to treat men and women equally.