It looks like an ill-considered break with tradition, but some rules around royalty have been changed

A lot of people won’t have noticed, but legislation modernising the rules applying to Royal succession to the throne came into force today in New Zealand and in the 16 Realms that share the Queen as Head of State.

Alf reminded Justice Minister Amy Adams about this earlier today. She duly put out a press statement to say the Royal Succession Act makes three specific changes to the Royal succession rules:

The order of succession will no longer be based on gender and will allow an elder daughter to precede a younger son as heir to the throne. This rule will apply to any children in the line of succession born after 28 October 2011.

A person married to a Roman Catholic will be able to accede to the throne

Seeking the Sovereign’s permission to marry, which currently applies to all members of the royal family, will be limited only to the first six in line to the throne.

“These changes help improve the rules of succession and reflect modern values such as gender equality, which is positive for New Zealand’s system of government,” says Ms Adams.

The Act – for those who have forgotten – was passed in 2013 to put in place changes that were agreed in 2011 by the 16 Realms. But the date on which the main provisions of the Act take effect needed to be coordinated with the other Realms, once they had all made the necessary arrangements, such as passing similar legislation.

While the provisions come into force today, the first change is effectively backdated. The new ‘gender neutral’ rule applies to royals born after 28 October 2011, when the changes were agreed between the Realms.

Being a staunch traditionalist, Alf is a bit unhappy with this gender stuff.

He quit Monarchy New Zealand on the strength of this.

Their submission to the Justice and Electoral Committee expressed support for the bill , among other reasons because:

The much-needed changes to the royal succession will remove gender discrimination by allowing women equal right to the throne. New Zealand’s monarchy is a critically important part of our constitution and society. Making sure that it reflects kiwi values is common sense.

If allowing women equal right to the throne reflects kiwi values, Alf obviously is something of a dissident.

The submission went on to say:

It is fitting that the nation that led the charge for women’s suffrage has co-ordinated the change for equal succession rights.

On that matter, Alf laments he was born too late to do anything to stop the suffragettes. If he could have done so, he would have.

The Monarchists NZ submission concluded on an even more upsetting note:

When New Zealanders say that the next person born in the line of succession will be our Head of State, they actually confirm the inherent equality and value of everyone. They are saying that all humans have strengths with which to work and weaknesses to overcome. Whether the monarch is male or female, gay or straight, tall or short, in good health or bad health, shy or outgoing is immaterial to their ability to serve as Head of State.

Umm – no. The monarchists’ mob has gone too far.

Alf looks forward to how they will wriggle around this position when we learn we have two queens as our king and queen, and they have been lawfully married, and they have decided to adopt a child.

On the other hand, Keith Locke’s submission opposed the passage of the Royal Succession Bill.

Alf was momentarily delighted.

But then he spotted that the former Green MP and chronic grouch was arguing that rather than amend the laws of succession Parliament should be providing New Zealanders the opportunity to change the nature of our Head of State to enable the top position in our country to be held by a New Zealander.

This might be okay but only in the circumstance that we do have two queens as our king and queen, and they do adopt a child, and their child (a) is male and (b) a New Zealander.

If that was to happen, Alf might go along with it. But very grudgingly.

We could go on to address the matter of the monarch marrying a Roman Catholic.

The question of whether this would be worse than marrying a gay is a testing one.

But let’s put it aside for now. The bar is open and there are suds to be sunk.

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