“Notwithstanding a few parliamentary turns of the wheel, this is now going to happen,” Clegg said, adding that “the old-fashioned rules … have been swept aside.”
In Britain, implementing the new rule means changing bits of several key constitutional documents, including the Bill of Rights and Coronation Oath Act of 1688, the 1701 Act of Settlement and the 1706 Act of Union with Scotland.
Lacey said if it is not done by the time the baby is born, uncertainty is bound to remain. A first-born girl could find her younger brother challenging her for the throne on the grounds that the law had not been changed at the time of her birth.
And what if Kate has twins? Experts say the firstborn will be the heir _ but things could get complicated if the succession rules are not changed before the birth.
“Say they have twins and a girl comes out first and 20 years later the boy turns out to be the more attractive character,” Lacey said. “People will say that at the time the law meant the boy should have inherited.”
Rebecca Probert, a professor at the University of Warwick’s school of law, said there are other issues that the law should address to bring the monarchy up to date.
British monarchs are banned from marrying Roman Catholics, but not members of other faiths _ something Clegg said the new law would change.
An heir also cannot marry without the monarch’s permission, and can’t marry in a civil ceremony _ even though Prince Charles, William’s father, did just that when he wed his second wife, Camilla Parker Bowles, in 2005.
Probert said it’s important “to have a clause in there confirming that monarchs are able to marry in the same ways that are open to their subjects.”
But she thinks that may prove too complicated for lawmakers in the short term.
“They might decide in the interests of time to stick to the single issue of gender and leave the rest to a more convenient time _ which tends to be never,” she said.
Jill Lawless can be reached on http://Twitter.com/JillLawless
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