The news that the Duchess of Cambridge is expecting a child has been welcomed by monarchists and royal watchers (no, they’re not necessarily the same people) across the world – and no less so in Canada.
Just as royal marriages cause a stir, so to do royal births. This particular child is exceptionally significant, given that he/she will bump Prince Harry from the number three spot in the Line of Succession to the throne. Moreover, if the plans to change the succession laws are successful, he/she will also one day be our Sovereign.
The media coverage of the royal pregnancy has been divided between a few specifics – Kate’s case of acute morning sickness, the hoax call to King Edward VII Hospital, and the announcement that all 16 Commonwealth Realms have pledged to change the laws governing succession in their respective countries. As it stands at present, each of the 16 Realms bases its succession laws on those devised in Britain centuries ago. These seventeenth and eighteenth century rules include a ban on heirs to the throne marrying Roman Catholics as well as male primogeniture (which essentially means that succession always passes to the eldest male in line – hence why the Duke of York trumps the Princess Royal, his elder sister, in the Line of Succession).
These changes won’t be retroactive – that is, the Princess Royal won’t be able to snatch Andrew’s place in the line-up. They will, however, rid monarchists of a long-standing thorn in the side – having to defend an institution which nay-sayers, with some justification, describe as discriminatory.
What these changes will mean for the Sovereign’s status as the Supreme Governor of the Church of England in the future remains to be seen. However, this has no affect on Canada. One must hope that Mr. Harper is successful in convincing the necessary people to make these changes expediently. There is some speculation that the change will require the unanimous agreement of both houses of Parliament as well as the ten provincial legislative assemblies, something which could be problematic.
Despite all the details which will need to be worked out, however, the news of the Duchess’ pregnancy is, above all, a thrilling finale to a year of royal celebrations. I am sure that monarchists everywhere will be praying and sending good thoughts to the Duke and Duchess in the months ahead. In the late Spring/early Summer of 2013, we look forward to hailing the arrival of a future Sovereign of Canada!