London: Queen Elizabeth II is set to approve a new succession law that will end the age-old precedence enjoyed by male heirs in line to Britain's throne, ending centuries of religious and gender discrimination. 'The Succession to the Crown Bill', which is set to become law in coming days, means that if Prince William and Kate Middleton were to have a daughter in July, she would be crowned Queen.
The royal couple's first child will be third in line to the throne after William and his father Prince Charles. The bill, which cleared its final readings at the House of Lords this week, will install 'absolute primogeniture' in succession to the British throne, meaning the eldest child, regardless of gender, will succeed to the crown and a daughter cannot be overtaken in the line of succession by a younger brother.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who introduced the Bill in the Commons, said "This is a truly historic moment. I am proud the British Parliament has taken this step to end centuries of religious and gender discrimination."
If bill is passed, the members of the royal family who marry a Roman Catholic will also be able to succeed to the crown.
The Government agreed with the 15 other countries, where the queen is head of state that ancient rules giving supremacy to male heirs must be changed to allow the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's first child to reign, whatever its gender.
The Cabinet Office has struck an agreement that the change to succession law will apply from October 28, 2011, the date of a summit in Australia where countries first agreed to go ahead.
In that summit, David Cameron told other Commonwealth leaders that in an age of 'gender equality' the 1701 Act of Settlement, which also bars members of the royal family from marrying Roman Catholics, is out of date and discriminatory.
Buckingham Palace agreed that the time for change had come. Members of the royal family who marry a Roman Catholic will also now be able to succeed to the crown.