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Bill would allow U.K. royalty to marry Catholics without forfeiting crown
Peter Phillips and Autumn Kelly
Peter Phillips and Autumn Kelly

.- A plan proposed by an MP would change two long-standing British laws by allowing daughters to be placed in line for the throne and by permitting members of the Royal Family to marry Catholics without sacrificing the right to royal succession.

According to the Daily Telegraph, Evan Harris, a Liberal Democrat MP for Oxford West and Abingdon proposed the bill “to reverse centuries of discrimination against Catholics.”

“It is wrong that anti-Catholic discrimination is written into the U.K.'s constitution,” Harris further explained.

Currently, the constitution bars British monarchs and their heirs from becoming or marrying Catholics according to the 1701 Act of Settlement. 

Last year, the law made international headlines when Autumn Kelly, a Catholic woman now married to Peter Phillips, Queen Elizabeth II’s eldest grandson, renounced her Catholicism so her husband could remain in the running for the royal crown.

Phillips is currently 11th in line for the throne.

Archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor lent his support to the bill saying, “This is an anomaly in the law which I am sure will be repealed in the future."

In addition to ending what he termed, “anti-Catholic discrimination,” Harris’ bill would also allow a woman to succeed her father as Queen.  The MP argued, “It is not acceptable that our law continues to relegate women down the succession to the Crown, at a time when no sane politician would argue in its favor."

The U.K. currently follows the common law of “primogeniture,” the right of a first-born son of a family to inherit the entire estate. 

Harris noted that the new bill, which is scheduled to be debated in March, would not impact the religion of the Monarch who “as head of the established Church is required to be in communion with the Church of England."

The Daily Telegraph reports that this is thought to be the first time the change has been proposed by MPs as legislation.

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