New attempt to change monarchy laws

By staff

Renewed efforts are underway to reform the 308-year law which prohibits the monarchy from marrying a Catholic.

Evan Harris, Liberal Democrat MP, is to present a bill to parliament in an effort to get the Act of Settlement changed.

In addition to the right to marry a Catholic, he is also trying to end the male bias towards heirs to the throne.

The requirement that the reigning monarch must be a Protestant would not be altered.

The Act of Settlement has been in place since 1701 and states that only Protestant heirs of Sophia, Granddaughter of James I, can claim the throne.

There have been several attempts to reform the act on the grounds that it is outdated, discriminatory and incompatible with European Law.

Catholics, or those who marry Catholics, cannot become the king or queen and there is a precedent of future monarchs renouncing their place in line for the throne.

George Windsor, Earl of St Andrews and a second cousin of Prince Charles, would be the highest in the line of succession had he not married his Catholic wife.

Mr Harris believes that his reform will have a higher chance of passing than the previous attempts because the reforms proposed are limited.

Last year, Jack Straw, justice secretary, said the government was “ready to consider” changing the law.