On Thursday, the Succession To The Crown bill had its committee stage where amendments were considered and a more final (yet not fully final) bill was produced. Some very interesting amendments were added. This article summarises the contents of the bill so far and the amendments.
Firstly, Amendment 1 proposed by the house was quite a peculiar one, proposed by Lord Trefgarne which suggested that the bill, instead of coming into effect retrospectively (i.e. the bill is technically effective from 28th October 2011), that it become effective in 50 years time instead on 31 December 2060. His reasoning for this was, “I have never quite understood, and do not now understand, why it is thought so necessary that this Bill should be driven through with such speed.”
Once his amendment was debated for a short while, it was promptly withdrawn and does not stand as part of the bill.
The next amendment, called ‘Amendment 3′ is a much more interesting, logical and definitively needed change to British titles. The amendment, proposed by Lord Northbrook, proposed to make succession to the title of Duke of Cornwall and ownership of the Duchy of Cornwall gender-irrespective so that the eldest child of the Monarch, regardless of gender, would become Duke of Cornwall and have access to the Duchy’s profits and control over its activities.
The proposition wasn’t that a female heir should be a Duchess of Cornwall but should actually be a Duke of Cornwall. This sounds strange, but it is not uncommon in the Monarchy. In fact, Her Majesty The Queen also holds the title of Duke of Lancaster, not Duchess of Lancaster. This was the proposed way in which a female heir would hold the Duchy of Cornwall.
In the debate, the Principality of Wales was raised and it was confirmed that because the Principality of Wales isn’t an automatically assumed title and as it lies in the gift of the Sovereign, it remains a matter for the Sovereign to deal with, not an act of Parliament – saying that in theory the Principality could be issued to a female in her own right as ‘Princess of Wales’.
In the end the 3rd amendment was withdrawn, however only because Lord Northbrook said he wished to look further into the implications of the amendment before it becomes part of the bill.
The next stage for the succession to the crown bill is the report stage on 13th March, then the final reading [3rd reading] before amendments are considered and then the bill will be sent to The Queen to give Royal Assent.