Being born into a royal family isn’t as great as it might seem. For one thing, most royals’ lives are predetermined before they are even born. Until 2015, the royals followed strict, outdated laws that were discriminatory and unfair to certain family members. But Queen Elizabeth II (and Parliament) finally put her foot down with the Succession to the Crown Act.
Ahead, learn why the act is one of the best changes the royal family has seen in centuries. Find out the one thing it protects Princess Charlotte against now that she has a younger brother (page 5), why she’s the only one who benefits right now (page 6), and the real reason the royal family agreed to these changes (page 7).
1. The Succession to the Crown Act 2013
- The Succession to the Crown Act 2013 called for a few drastic changes.
In an effort to make some long overdue changes to the royal family’s rule book, the Succession to the Crown Act was published Dec. 13, 2012, received the queen’s approval April 25, 2013, and went into effect March 26, 2015.
The act called for a few drastic changes to some instrumental royal family traditions. And that included one that would change Princess Charlotte’s life forever.
Next: The act ended centuries-old discrimination against this religion.
2. Marrying Roman Catholics
- Marrying a Roman Catholic was against royal law before 2015.
Members of the royal family now are allowed to marry Roman Catholics under the Succession of the Crown Act. That said, if the children of the couple are raised Roman Catholic, they forfeit their place in line to the throne. Prior to the act, those who married Roman Catholics were forced to give up their spot in line to the throne.
Next: Can you believe the queen considers anyone who does this “dead”?
3. Catholic succession
- If a member of royalty converts to Catholic, the queen considers them “dead.”
One thing that didn’t change was the rule about Catholic succession, which states if any true member of the royal family becomes Catholic (even for a minute!) they are considered “dead” in terms of succession and lose their spot in line to the throne forever. Talk about a harsh punishment.
Next: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle almost missed this important cutoff.
4. The queen’s approval to marry
- The first six people in line to the throne must receive the queen’s approval to marry.
In addition to royal succession, the act changed marriage rules. Before the Succession to the Crown Act, members of the royal family needed the sovereign’s approval to marry. Failure to do so resulted in a legal marriage — but forfeit of the crown. The new act replaced the Royal Marriages Act 1772, and now only the first six people in line to the throne need the queen’s approval.
At the time of his engagement, Prince Harry was fifth in line to the throne. Therefore, he needed the queen’s approval to marry Meghan Markle.
Next: The one thing that won’t change for Princess Charlotte now that she has a younger brother
5. Princess Charlotte will keep her spot in line to the throne
- The Succession of the Crown Act 2013 allows Princess Charlotte to keep her spot in line to the throne, despite having a younger brother.
Prior to 2013, all royal men had precedence over their older female siblings. However, the Succession of the Crown Act allows Princess Charlotte to keep her spot in line, despite having a younger brother.
Next: Why the law only benefits Princess Charlotte
6. Not everyone benefits
- The law only applies to those born after Oct. 28, 2011.
The law states that a royal male does not have precedence over an older female sibling. However, at this time, Princess Charlotte is the only one who benefits, as the rule only applies to those born after Oct. 28, 2011.
If Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have kids — specifically an older daughter and younger son — it will affect them, too.
Next: The real reason for the act
7. The act brought the royal family into the 21st century
- The Succession to the Crown Act 2013 ends centuries-old discrimination and gives the royal family a more modern appeal.
With the ending of some centuries-long laws, the Succession to the Crown Act 2013 helped modernize the royal family and bring them into the 21st century. This not only creates a more constitutional monarchy, but it makes the royal family — and their rules — more relevant. And it ends centuries-old discrimination against certain religions and genders.
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