Succession to the Crown Act 2013
|Long title||An Act to make succession to the Crown not depend on gender; to make provision about Royal Marriages; and for connected purposes.|
|Chapter||2013 c. 20|
|Introduced by||Nick Clegg|
|Territorial extent||United Kingdom, Crown dependencies and British Overseas Territories|
|Royal Assent||25 April 2013|
|Commencement||Section 5: 25 April 2013
Rest of Act not in force
Status: Not fully in force
|History of passage through Parliament|
|Text of statute as originally enacted|
The Succession to the Crown Act 2013 (c. 20) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. When brought into effect it will alter the laws of succession to the British throne in accordance with the 2011 Perth Agreement. It had been published as a bill on 13 December 2012 and, after passing both Houses of Parliament, it received Royal Assent on 25 April 2013, immediately before the prorogation of Parliament that day.
- 1 Background
- 2 Provisions
- 3 Commentary
- 4 Bill stages
- 5 Notes
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Under the Act of Settlement 1701 the throne of England was settled on the "heirs of the body" of Electress Sophia of Hanover, the phrase "heirs of the body" being understood under English common law to imply male preference primogeniture, meaning that brothers precede sisters in the line of succession. It also required the monarch to be Protestant, and banned those who had married Catholics from the succession.
These provisions were unaffected by the treaties that created the Kingdom of Great Britain and the United Kingdom. Article II of Acts of Union 1707 stated the "Succession of the Monarchy" is settled by the Act of Settlement 1701, and the ban of Catholics to the throne continues according to the Bill of Rights 1689. Article 2 of Acts of Union 1801, on the other hand, maintained the succession rules in place in the United Kingdom should be "continued limited and settled as present."
From the time of Queen Anne (died 1714), male preference primogeniture has operated only twice to displace a living female descendant by a younger brother: when Princess Augusta of Great Britain's younger brother became George III on the death of their grandfather George II (1760); and when Victoria, Princess Royal's, younger brother became Edward VII on the death of their mother Queen Victoria (1901). The present Princess Royal is the younger sister of the heir apparent. Her place in the line of succession will not be affected by the provisions of the Act relating to male preference, in that she will remain head of the line following next after those headed by her younger brothers, whose lines will continue to precede hers under male preference.
On 28 October 2011, at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting held in Perth, Western Australia, the heads of government of the sixteen Commonwealth realms that share Elizabeth II as head of state had announced that they would introduce legislation in all sixteen countries to end the system of male preference primogeniture and the disqualification of persons married to Catholic spouses in the succession to the Crown.
In a letter to the other realms' heads of government, prior to the Perth Agreement, British Prime Minister David Cameron had additionally proposed to limit the requirement to obtain the monarch's permission to marry to the first six people in line to the throne.
On 4 December 2012, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced:
"[T]he Government has received final consent from all the Commonwealth realms to press ahead with a landmark bill to end the centuries-old discrimination against women in line to the British throne at the soonest possible opportunity.
This confirmation means that the Government would seek to introduce the Succession to the Crown Bill in the House of Commons at the earliest opportunity allowed by the parliamentary timetable."
The bill was published on 13 December 2012. After the bill as amended in the House of Commons had passed the report stage in the House of Lords, an assenting bill of the Canadian parliament received Royal Assent on 27 March 2013 as the Succession to the Throne Act, 2013.
The purpose of the Succession to the Crown Act is to give effect in the United Kingdom to the agreement between heads of government, and the government announced that the act's provisions were not intended to come into force before the appropriate domestic arrangements were in place in the other Commonwealth realms.
When the provisions of the act altering the law have been brought into force the following will apply:
Males born after 28 October 2011 no longer precede their elder sisters in the line of succession. The relative positions in the line of succession of the currently living members of the immediate royal family remain unchanged.[note 1]
Marriage to Roman Catholics
Marrying a Roman Catholic will no longer disqualify a person from succeeding to the Crown. The explanation published when the bill had been introduced mentioned that those who had lost their places in the line of succession by marrying a Roman Catholic would regain their places, but that those "with a realistic prospect of succeeding to the Throne" would not be affected.[note 2] The provision of the Act of Settlement requiring the monarch to be a Protestant continues.
Sovereign's consent to royal marriages
The Royal Marriages Act 1772 is repealed. Instead, only the first six persons in line to the throne require the sovereign's approval to marry. Marriage without the sovereign's consent would disqualify the person and the person's descendants from the marriage from succeeding to the Crown. However, the lack of the Royal Marriages Act's "null and void" clause means the marriage would be legally valid.
Marriages legally void under the Royal Marriages Act 1772 will be treated as never having been void, except for purposes relating to the succession to the Crown, provided all the following conditions are met:
- Neither party to the marriage was one of the six persons next in the line of succession to the Crown at the time of the marriage.
- No consent was sought under section 1 of that Act, or notice given under section 2 of that act, in respect of the marriage.[note 3]
- In all the circumstances it was reasonable for the person concerned not to have been aware at the time of the marriage that the act applied to it.
- No person acted before the coming into force of section 3 on the basis that the marriage was void.[note 4]
Provisions in the Acts of Union 1707, between England and Scotland, and in the Acts of Union 1800, between Great Britain and Ireland, that involve the Crown were to be "subject to provisions of" the Act. Several sections in the Bill of Rights 1689[note 5][note 6] and the Act of Settlement 1701[note 7][note 8][note 9] involving marriages with "papists" (Catholics) will be repealed. Any references to provisions relating to "the succession to, or possession of, the Crown" will also include, by reference, the provisions of this act.
However, the sections that ban Catholic succession were not repealed. Catholics are still officially termed as being "naturally dead and deemed to be dead" in terms of succession. This discrimination was first legislated in the Bill of Rights 1689. Jacob Rees-Mogg (Con) also confirmed “the Act of Settlement deems somebody who has been a Catholic for a minute to be 'dead' in terms of the succession, and it passes over them 'as if they were dead'. It is an absolute. If at any moment in their whole life they were in communion with Rome, they are excluded from the throne, deemed to be dead”. Mark Durkan (SDLP) compared this with McCarthyism, “In effect, it is the McCarthyite question: 'Are you now or have you ever been a Catholic?' For anybody who has ever been a Catholic in any shape or form, that is it, they are out; they count as dead for these purposes”.
As the monarch's eldest son will no longer automatically be heir apparent, the Treason Act 1351 will also be amended, such that an act or attempt to murder the monarch's "eldest Son and Heir" will become "eldest child and Heir", while "if a Man do violate [...] the Wife the King's eldest Son and Heir" would become "... son if the heir". The result of the second amendment is that intercourse with the eldest son's wife would only be high treason if that son is the heir apparent. The Treason Act already provides for high treason in the case of "if a Man do violate [...] the King's eldest Daughter unmarried".
None of the provisions of the act altering the law, including those which will or may affect any direct or collateral line of succession to the British throne, will come into force until a day has been appointed for it by a commencement order made by the Lord President of the Council.[note 10] When publishing the bill the government had announced that it was expecting to bring the provisions into force at the same time as the other realms would be bringing into force any changes to their legislation or other changes necessary for them to implement the Perth agreement.
The act extends to the whole United Kingdom. It has no provision on extent, but by necessary implication it will extend to the Crown dependencies and British Overseas Territories, following the precedent of other Acts affecting the Sovereign such as the Accession Declaration Act 1910 and the Regency Acts of 1937, 1943 and 1953. However, Jersey passed its own Succession to the Crown (Jersey) Law 2013 to give effect to the provisions in Jersey law.
On 6 January 2013, the Daily Mail reported that the Prince of Wales had "serious concerns" about the proposed legislation:
"[I]n a meeting with Richard Heaton, permanent secretary at the Cabinet Office, the Prince is said to have raised concerns about what will happen if his grandchild is allowed to marry a Roman Catholic (under canon law 1125 of the Catholic Church).... [and] the potential impact of changing the rules of Royal succession for other titles that are currently passed down the male line."
A spokesman for the Cabinet Office and a spokesman for the Prince declined to comment on the Daily Mail report. On 9 January 2013, Prime Minister David Cameron said in regards to the proposals that "there has been very thorough contact between No. 10 Downing Street and the palace, and all the issues are settled and agreed."
Church of England
On 21 January 2013, the Church of England published a briefing endorsing the bill's provisions and stating, "The use of fast-tracking procedures [for the bill] is acceptable." The same day, the Telegraph reported that the Church of England had written to MPs to express its official backing for the proposed changes.
House of Commons
A report on the rules of royal succession was prepared by the Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee of the House of Commons, chaired by Graham Allen, and was published in December 2011. The report welcomed the proposals, but drew attention to "connected issues that may be raised when the proposals are debated, depending on the scope of the bill, especially the future role of the Crown in the Church of England, and the continued ineligibility of women to succeed to the majority of hereditary peerages, which remains a matter of public interest for as long as it has an impact on gender balance in the House of Lords."
On 9 September 2012, the British government published a response to the report, reiterating that it intended to implement the Perth Agreement but had no plans to change the laws of succession to peerages or the established status of the Church of England.
House of Lords
On 21 January 2013, the House of Lords Constitution Committee published a report opposing the Government's plan to fast-track the bill, citing the legislation's "constitutional significance" and "possible unintended consequences."
In response, the Government expanded the time allocated for the bill's debate in the House of Commons from one day to two days, and it decided not to fast-track the bill in the House of Lords, where the normal time limits were observed.
The first reading (introduction) of the bill in the House of Commons took place on 13 December 2012. Passage of an Allocation of Time motion, the second reading, and the committee stage (in the form of a Committee of the Whole House) took place on 22 January 2013. The report stage and third reading (passage) took place on 28 January 2013. The only amendment made in the House of Commons was to insert the words "from the marriage" after the word "descendants" in section 3(3), which was passed without debate.
The first reading of the bill in the House of Lords took place on 29 January 2013. The bill passed second reading on 14 February 2013 and was reviewed by committee on 28 February 2013. The report stage was on 13 March 2013. The bill was passed at the third reading on 22 April. No amendments were made to the bill in the House of Lords, and it received the Royal Assent on 25 April 2013.
- As of January 2013[update], the person highest in the line of succession who would be displaced by this provision is Tane Lewis (b. 2012), who is 26th in the line of succession, ahead of his elder sister.
- If Protestants who married Catholics were not barred from the throne, the first such person in the line of succession as of January 2013 would be George Windsor, Earl of St Andrews (who was disqualified by his marriage to Sylvana Tomaselli in 1988), who would be 33rd in the line of succession.
- That is, this section does not apply to marriages for which prior consent was asked, but not given.
- That is, the section does not re-establish a marriage as valid if somebody already litigated on the grounds that the marriage was void.
- "And whereas it hath [been] found by Experience that it is inconsistent with the Safety [...] of this [...] [Kingdom] to be governed by a Popish Prince or by any King or Queene marrying a Papist [...]" (emphasis added)
- "That all and every person and persons that is [...] or shall profess the popish religion, or shall marry a Papist, shall be excluded and be for ever [uncapable] to inherit[...] the Crowne [...] of this Realme[...] and the said Crowne [...] shall [...] descend to [...] Protestants as should have inherited [...] the same in case the said person or persons soe reconciled [...] or Marrying as aforesaid [...] were naturally dead" (emphasis added)
- "[E]very Person [...] should professe the Popish Religion or marry a Papist should be excluded [...] to inherit [...] the Crown [...] of this Realm[...]" (emphasis added)
- [I]n case the said Person or Persons [...] or marrying as aforesaid were naturally dead." (emphasis added)
- "That all and every Person and Persons who shall or may take or inherit the said Crown [...] and is are [...] or shall profess the Popish Religion or shall marry a Papist shall be subject to such Incapacities[...]" (emphasis added)
- Section 5 only involves Commencement and Short title and does not involve any clause about succession. The person who will actually succeed will continue to be the person who at the time of the next demise of the Crown is the heir apparent or presumptive, and the act does not alter the Accession Council's responsibility to meet for the purposes of the Act of Settlement and Acts of Union and to direct a proclamation of accession to be read in public places, as in the case of the proclamation of accession of Elizabeth II.
- Line of succession to the British throne
- Monarchy of the United Kingdom
- Royal Succession Act 2013, New Zealand legislation to implement the Perth Agreement.
- Equality (Titles) Bill, related UK legislation pertaining to the succession of female heirs to hereditary titles and peerages
- "Bills before Parliament". parliament.uk.
- HL Deb, 25 April 2013 vol 744 c1563
- Bill stages – Succession to the Crown Act 2013
- Bogdanor, Vernon (1995). The Monarchy and the Constitution. Oxford: Clarendon Press. p. 42. ISBN 978-0-19-829334-7.
- "Union with Scotland Act 1706", Acts of the English Parliament, Ann 6 (7), Sect. II,
That the Succession to the Monarchy of the United Kingdom of Great Britain [...] is settled by an Act of Parliament made in England in the Twelfth year of the reign of His late Majesty King William the Third intituled [long title of the Act of Settlement] And that all Papists and persons marrying Papists shall be excluded from and for ever incapable to inherit possess or enjoy the Imperial Crown of Great Britain [...] according to the Provision for the descent of the Crown of England made by another Act of Parliament in England in the first year of the reign of Their late Majesties King William and Queen Mary intituled [long title of Bill of Rights 1689].
- "Union with Ireland Act 1800", Acts of the Parliament of Great Britain, Geo. 3 39 & 40 (67), Section 2,
[T]he succession to the imperial crown of the said United Kingdom [...] shall continue limited and settled in the same manner as the succession to the imperial crown of the said kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland now stands limited and settled, according to the existing laws and to the terms of union between England and Scotland.
- "Succession to the Crown Act", Acts of the United Kingdom Parliament 2013 (20), 2013, Section 1, retrieved 2014-04-07,
In determining the succession to the Crown, the gender of a person born after 28 October 2011 does not give that person, or that person's descendants, precedence over any other person (whenever born).
- Official statement 28 October 2011 issued at Perth, as printed in UK House of Commons Committee report: Rules of Royal Succession, p.10 (Annex 1), published 7 December 2011 
- "Girls equal in British throne succession". BBC News. 28 October 2011. Retrieved 28 October 2011.
- "Royal family: Cameron begins process to allow first born daughters to accede throne". The Telegraph. 12 October 2011. Retrieved 23 January 2013.
- "Royal succession rules will be changed". Deputy Prime Minister's Office. 4 October 2012. Retrieved 5 February 2013.
- The Cabinet Office (2012-12-13), Succession to the Crown Bill--Explanatory Notes., para. 10, retrieved 2014-04-07,
It was agreed that the United Kingdom would be the first to draft legislation, but that this would not be introduced until the Government had secured the agreement of the other Commonwealth Realms to the terms of the Bill, and would not be commenced until the appropriate domestic arrangements were in place in the other Commonwealth Realms.
- The Cabinet Office (2012-12-13), Succession to the Crown Bill--Explanatory Notes., Para. 26, retrieved 2014-04-07,
An effect of the proposed change is that if the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were to have a daughter and then a son, the daughter would precede the son in the line of succession.
- "Succession to the Crown Act", Acts of the United Kingdom Parliament 2013 (20), 2013, Section 2, retrieved 2014-04-07,
(1) A person is not disqualified from succeeding to the Crown or from possessing it as a result of marrying a person of the Roman Catholic faith. (2) Subsection (1) applies in relation to marriages occurring before the time of the coming into force of this section where the person concerned is alive at that time (as well as in relation to marriages occurring after that time).
- Succession to the Crown Bill, Schedule paragraph 5 (as introduced)
- The Cabinet Office (2012-12-13), Succession to the Crown Bill--Explanatory Notes., para. 28, retrieved 2014-04-07,
However, this does not affect anyone with a realistic prospect of succeeding to the Throne.
- "Succession to the Crown Act", Acts of the United Kingdom Parliament 2013 (20), 2013, Section 3(4), retrieved 2014-04-07,
The Royal Marriages Act 1772 [...] is repealed.
- "Succession to the Crown Act", Acts of the United Kingdom Parliament 2013 (20), 2013, Section 3(1), retrieved 2014-04-07,
A person who (when the person marries) is one of the 6 persons next in the line of succession to the Crown must obtain the consent of Her Majesty before marrying.
- "Succession to the Crown Act", Acts of the United Kingdom Parliament 2013 (20), 2013, Section 3(3), retrieved 2014-04-07,
The effect of a person's failure to comply with subsection (1) is that the person and the person's descendants from the marriage are disqualified from succeeding to the Crown.
- "Royal Marriages Act 1772", Acts of the United Kingdom Parliament 1772 (11), 1772, Section 1, retrieved 2014-04-07,
[E]very marriage, or matrimonial contract [...] without such consent [...] shall be null and void to all intents and purposes whatsoever.
- "Succession to the Crown Act", Acts of the United Kingdom Parliament 2013 (20), 2013, Section 3(5), retrieved 2014-04-07
- "Succession to the Crown Act", Acts of the United Kingdom Parliament 2013 (20), 2013, Section 4(3), retrieved 2014-04-07,
The following enactments (which relate to the succession to, and possession of, the Crown) are subject to the provision made by this Act—Article II of the Union with Scotland Act 1706; Article II of the Union with England Act 1707; Article Second of the Union with Ireland Act 1800; Article Second of the Act of Union (Ireland) 1800.
- "Succession to the Crown Act", Acts of the United Kingdom Parliament 2013 (20), 2013, Schedule, retrieved 2014-04-07
- "Succession to the Crown Act", Acts of the United Kingdom Parliament 2013 (20), 2013, Section 4(2), retrieved 2014-04-07,
References (however expressed) in any enactment to the provisions of the Bill of Rights or the Act of Settlement relating to the succession to, or possession of, the Crown are to be read as including references to the provisions of this Act.
- "Text of Bill of Rights". Avalon Law. Yale University.
- "House of Commons Debates. 28 January 2013, c695". Parliament UK.
- "Succession to the Crown Act", Acts of the United Kingdom Parliament 2013 (20), 2013, Section 5(1)-5(2), retrieved 2014-04-07,
(1)This section comes into force on the day on which this Act is passed.(2)The other provisions of this Act come into force on such day and at such time as the Lord President of the Council may by order made by statutory instrument appoint.
- The Cabinet Office (2012-12-13), Succession to the Crown Bill--Explanatory Notes., para. 42, retrieved 2014-04-07,
The government expects to bring the rest of the Bill into force at the same time as the other Realms bring into force any changes to their legislation or other changes which are necessary for them to implement the Perth agreement.
- The Cabinet Office (2012-12-13), Succession to the Crown Bill--Explanatory Notes., para. 14, retrieved 2014-04-07,
The Bill has no provision on extent but it will extend to the Crown Dependencies and British Overseas Territories by necessary implication. This follows the precedent of other Acts affecting the Sovereign, such as the Accession Declaration Act 1910 and the Regency Acts of 1937, 1943 and 1953.
- "Succession to the Crown (Jersey) Law 2013". States of Jersey. Retrieved 24 November 2013.
- "The Duchess of Cambridge and the right royal baby battle", London Evening Standard, 10 January 2013, retrieved 14 January 2013
- "My fears on rushed new laws over Kate's baby, by Charles: Shake-up to let a daughter succeed to the throne 'has not been thought through', says Prince". Daily Mail. 6 January 2013. Retrieved 22 January 2013.
|chapter-url=missing title (help). Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). United Kingdom: House of Commons. 9 January 2013. col. 310.
- "Church of England Briefing – Succession to the Crown Bill".
- "Nick Clegg urges 'equal rights' for royal girls as MPs prepare to debate rules of succession". The Telegraph. 21 January 2013. Retrieved 22 January 2013.
- House of Commons Political and Constitutional Reform Committee, Rules of Royal Succession: Eleventh Report of Session 2010–12, 7 December 2011. Retrieved 3 December 2012
- Rules of Royal Succession: Government Response to the Committee's Eleventh Report of Session 2010–12. Mark Harper MP, Minister for Political and Constitutional Reform, 10 September 2012.
- Constitution Committee. "11th Report: The Succession to the Crown Bill". House of Lords.
|chapter-url=missing title (help). Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). United Kingdom: House of Commons. 22 January 2013. col. 201.
|chapter-url=missing title (help). Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). United Kingdom: House of Lords. 14 February 2013. col. 829.
|chapter-url=missing title (help). Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). United Kingdom: House of Commons. 13 December 2012. col. 471.
|chapter-url=missing title (help). Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). United Kingdom: House of Commons. 22 January 2013. col. 186.
|chapter-url=missing title (help). Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). United Kingdom: House of Commons. 28 January 2013. col. 695.
- Chloe Smith MP, Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office) (22 January 2013). http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmhansrd/cm130122/debtext/130122-0004.htm
|chapter-url=missing title (help). Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). United Kingdom: House of Commons. col. 273.
|chapter-url=missing title (help). Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). United Kingdom: House of Lords. 29 January 2013. col. 1439.
- "Succession to the Crown Bill: Report". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). United Kingdom: House of Lords. 13 March 2013. col. 267.
- "Succession to the Crown Bill: Third Reading". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). United Kingdom: House of Lords. 22 April 2013. col. 1216.
- Full text of the Act
- Full text of the bill as introduced to the House of Commons
- Explanatory notes of the bill as introduced to the House of Commons
- Research paper by the House of Commons Library (.pdf file)