.- Peter Phillips, the Queen of Great Britain’s eldest grandson, may have to give up his place in the line of succession for the throne because his fiancée is Roman Catholic.
This past week Buckingham Palace announced the engagement between Peter Phillips and Autumn Kelly, a Canadian management consultant, but no mention of a date for their marriage was made.
Even more interesting, is the fact that Autumn Kelly is Catholic. Ms. Kelly’s Catholicism brings to the light of day the 1701 Act of Settlement which bars any member of the Royal family from becoming or marrying Catholics. If Mr. Phillips has to renounce his rights to inherit the throne, it would be an embarrassment to the royal family and to the government.
Catholics have repeatedly called for a repeal of the act but thus far attempts to change the law have failed. Under the act, Mr. Phillips will be required to renounce his right to the throne -- he is 10th in line at present-- or Ms. Kelly will have to formally renounce her Catholic faith.
Buckingham Palace said yesterday that a wedding date had not been set and "if a decision has to be made, it will be made at the time of the marriage." Little is known about Ms. Kelly, who moved to Britain shortly after meeting Mr. Phillips at the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal in 2003.
The Tablet, the Catholic weekly, has now established that she was baptized on June 18, 1978, at St. John Fisher parish church in Point-Claire, a suburb of Montreal. A spokesman for the church told the Daily Telegraph that Ms. Kelly's mother, Kitty, had authorized the information to be disclosed, saying that her daughter was proud of her religion.
Attempts to revoke the law have been made. John Gummer, a member of the Parliament who converted to Catholicism, tabled a Ten Minute Rule Bill in Parliament earlier this year in a bid to overturn the remaining anti-Catholic legislation.
Mr. Gummer said: "It is unacceptable that the part of the Christian church that has more active adherents than any other should be discriminated against in this way." In other comments, he slammed the law saying, "It is inhuman in the 21st century for anyone to demand this."
According to the Act, which discriminates uniquely against Catholics, there is nothing barring a monarch from marrying a Hindu, Muslim or someone from any other faith.