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Homepage / the Royals / Princess Charlotte could have had unprecedented royal role – because of Jacob Rees-Mogg
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the Royals

Princess Charlotte could have had unprecedented royal role – because of Jacob Rees-Mogg

Princess Charlotte made royal history when she was born in 2015, as she was the first ever royal baby girl to take her place in the line of succession regardless of her gender. The Succession to the Crown Act 2013 abolished male preference primogeniture, which previously would have seen the latest Cambridge addition Prince Louis take a place ahead of his older sister in the line of succession. 

However, Kate Middleton and Prince William’s daughter could have found herself in another unprecedented position, if part of the Act had been amended according to proposals outlined by Tory grandee Jacob Rees-Mogg.

When the 2013 Act was being debated, a central question was the discrimination against Catholics which is still part of legislation surrounding the monarchy.

There has been a ban on a Catholic monarch since the 1701 Acts of Settlement disqualified anyone who was a Roman Catholic, or who married one, from the line of succession. 

However, although the 2013 Act modernised many aspects of the monarchy, and allowed for the monarch to potentially marry someone of the Catholic faith, it did not make provision for a monarch to be Catholic themselves. 

Jacob Rees-Mogg; Princess Charlotte

Jacob Rees-Mogg; Princess Charlotte (Image: Getty)

Princess Charlotte and Prince George

Princess Charlotte and Prince George starting the school year last month (Image: Getty)

Jacob Rees-Mogg, who is Catholic himself, proposed a clause to the Bill which would have remedied the discrimination and also safeguarded the Church of England as the established church.

Mr Rees-Mogg proposed that the next in line of succession would perform the functions of the Supreme Governor of the Church of England if the monarch was Catholic.

This would have meant that, if Prince George decided to convert to Catholicism when he grew up, he would have retained his right to become King.

However, the role of Supreme Governor of the Church of England, which has always been the reigning monarch, would have instead passed to the next in line. 

READ MORE: Why George, Charlotte and Louis could be put in ‘unfair’ position

Jacob Rees-Mogg

Mr Rees-Mogg leaving 10 Downing Street on Thursday (Image: Getty)

Assuming that George’s children would also be Catholic like their father, this would be Princess Charlotte.

This would lead to the unprecedented situation where the Head of State and the Supreme Governor of the Church of England would be two different people. 

However Mr Rees-Mogg’s clause did not make it past the Report Stage, where it was defeated by 371 votes to 38.

Another way in which the exclusion of Catholics from the throne could conceivably change in the near future is if the UK moves toward a written constitution.

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Cambridge Family

The Cambridge family all together at Trooping the Colour this year (Image: Getty)

Royal Family

Four generations of the Royal Family togtehr on the Buckingham Palace balcony (Image: Getty)

Researcher Neil Parpworth in his 2013 study on the Act  explained that a written constitution could not defend the discriminatory position.

He wrote: “If a written constitution were drawn up, its framers would undoubtedly refrain from imposing a bar on a Roman Catholic or a person of any other faith, or no faith, from becoming head of state. 

“To do otherwise would be to enshrine religious discrimination in the fundamental law of the state, a position which could not be justified on any reasonable ground.”

The possibility of a written constitution is being debated with increased interest at the moment, following the prorogation crisis that continues to grip Parliament. 

If this does indeed come to pass, a solution like Mr Rees-Mogg’s proposed clause will have to be found if the UK is to erase the historic discrimination against Catholics in the line of succession.

As the law currently stands, a monarch can marry a person of the Catholic faith, but their children must be brought up in the Church of England to retain their succession rights. 

The change in the law meant that George’s generation were the first ever royals to be allowed to marry a Catholic. 

The law also changed male preference primogeniture, and the requirement for all heir in the line of succession to ask the Queen’s permission to marry.

It means that latest royal bride-to-be Princess Beatrice, at ninth-in-line, did not have to ask her grandmother’s permission to marry Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi. 

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