Conservatives should resist the Left’s assault on the Act of Settlement
Well, why not?
Is it not blatant homophobia that, should the Monarch be homosexual, that their partner may not be crowned at their side and granted a royal title to reign with them? Is it not unacceptably discriminatory in the 21st century that, should Prince William choose to enter into a civil partnership with his best friend from Eton, his lawful partner shall not also be king?
Why not have two queens upon the Throne?
This is surely a logical corollary of removing all ‘offensive discrimination’ from the institution of Monarchy. If the Monarch may not be and may not marry a Roman Catholic, it is undoubtedly ‘disgusting’ or ‘insulting’, as might be said in another place. But if one is legislating to end sexism and Catholophobia within the Monarchy, why not simultaneously end ageism (for why should the eldest of either gender automatically inherit the Throne?) and homophobia?
All of this reduces Monarchy to conformation to the European Convention on Human Rights. If ever there were legislation which establishes that Her Majesty is no longer sovereign in her Realm, it is the subjection of the Head of State and Supreme Governor of the Church of England to the effects of ‘Human Rights’ conventions, laws, regulations and diktats. The moment Her Majesty became a citizen of the EU, by virtue of the Maastricht Treaty, she was reduced to vassal status and became subject to the foreign princes of Brussels and the potentates of Strasbourg.
It is no accident that the campaign for repeal or reform of the Act of Settlement was led by The Guardian. And while the Guardianistas are fixated upon the discriminatory ‘anti-Catholic’ provision of the Constitution, the rabid secularists have jumped upon the bandwagon, as they spy the very mechanism by which they may purge the land of all Christian expression. They seek to cleanse the temple of Jehovah and Jesus and install an idol to the god of secularism; they wish to eradicate chaplaincies from the NHS and Her Majesty’s prisons; they want to end Religious Education and the compulsory provision of an act of collective worship in schools; the Apostles’ Creed must give way to their atheistic creed; and their ultimate goal is the removal of all religious symbols from public buildings and institutions, including crosses, Christmas trees, sacred imagery and paintings. It is no coincidence that the Royal Mail now issues two sets of Christmas stamps – one religious and one secular.
According to the Left, the Act of Settlement is bigoted, otiose and irrelevant. The history is forgotten, the battles are long gone, and it is time to ‘modernise’ the institution of Monarch to ‘make it fit for the 21st century’.
But the Act of Settlement is not only right, it is Right. It seeks to conserve all that Conservatives should desire to conserve, being acutely concerned with the supremacy of Parliament; guarding against foreign interference in domestic affairs; and being guarantor of the liberties of the people.
It is not simply a statute which may be arbitrarily amended or repealed simply because of the vicissitudes and vagaries of popularism or because Parliament may not bind its successors. It is part of the contract between the Monarch and her subjects. Her Majesty the Queen, with her hand upon the Holy Bible, swore at her Coronation to govern the Peoples of the United Kingdom (and the Commonwealth) ‘according to their respective laws and customs’.
The Archbishop of Canterbury asked her: ‘Will you to the utmost of your power maintain the Laws of God and the true profession of the Gospel? Will you to the utmost of your power maintain in the United Kingdom the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law? Will you maintain and preserve inviolably the settlement of the Church of England, and the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government thereof, as by law established in England? And will you preserve unto the Bishops and Clergy of England, and to the Churches there committed to their charge, all such rights and privileges, as by law do or shall appertain to them or any of them?’
To which Her Majesty responded: ‘All this I promise to do,’ adding later: ‘The things which I have here before promised, I will perform and keep. So help me God.’
This oath is binding on Parliament because each and every MP takes an oath of loyalty to Her Majesty, her heirs and successors. If Her Majesty were to renege on her Coronation Oath to maintain the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law, then, according to the provisions of the Act of Settlement, her subjects are thereby absolved of their allegiance to her and to her heirs and successors.
Parliament is indeed sovereign. But Parliament has no right to cause Her Majesty to break an oath she has sworn before God.
New Labour continues to fumble and fiddle with the constitution as though it were their personal plaything. They are meddling in ignorance, oblivious to the consequences, solely to divert attention from the appalling mess they have made of the economy. And perhaps also to try to win back those Roman Catholic voters who have become disillusioned with Labour’s offensive and virulent anti-Christian agenda.
The impetus for reform of the Act of Settlement came from the Human Rights Act 2000 which the Conservative Party is pledged to repeal (whatever the consequences for the UK’s membership of the EU). The Human Rights Act introduced an explicit ‘human rights’ dimension into the decision-making and actions of all public bodies, government and legal system, such that they are obliged to ensure that every aspect of their functioning is compatible with the Convention rights. It requires UK courts and tribunals to take account of Strasbourg case-law (ie the case-law of the Court and the Commission in Strasbourg, and the Committee of Ministers). They are also bound to develop the common law compatibly with the Convention rights. It is only in the context of this Act that the Act of Settlement becomes an offence against diversity and a transgression of the statutory requirement for equality irrespective of religion.
Those Conservatives who support amendment ought to be aware of the European dimension of the agenda, and ask themselves why The Guardian has led the cause for reform and the secularists are supporting it.
The 26 bishops in the House of Lords are opposed to disestablishment, which is precisely where any reform will lead. The Bishop of Winchester, the Right Rev Michael Scott-Joynt, is right when he says that the proposed amendment to the Act would mean the end of the Crown in Parliament under God. He said that in the 18th century, when the Act was introduced, Catholics were viewed as ‘the Taleban of their day’.
He said: "Its repeal would have implications for the Acts of Union, and so for the Union itself between Scotland and England. A Roman Catholic marriage would be likely to produce, a generation on, a Roman Catholic monarch who could not, as things are, formally recognise the Church of Scotland, or the Church of England, as churches, or their clergy and bishops, or their sacraments, as true ministers and true sacraments. Nor could the Archbishop of Canterbury crown such a monarch until the re-union of the Western Church has been given to us – still less a Muslim or any other person unable to ‘join in Communion with the Church of England’, the requirement of the Act of Settlement.
"There would be a cutting of the mutual commitment of Church and Crown – and so in time the governance of the UK would cease to be by ‘the Crown in Parliament under God’.
"We cannot know what may prove to be the effects, on all this, of the eventual accession to the throne of Charles III, in whatever political situation that takes place."
But Cranmer has a question.
While it is not likely that two men (or women) may wish to reign as gay co-monarchs, it is far more likely that Parliament may eventually present a Bill for Royal Assent to which a (loyal) Roman Catholic could not, in conscience, grant such assent.
Since in the United States politicians are not infrequently excommunicated for failing to adhere to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church on such issues as abortion and homosexual marriage (though there is no consistency), could one of Cranmer’s faithful and loyal Catholic communicants please explain the consequences of a Catholic Queen granting Royal Assent to (for example) such abhorrent legislation as the Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, which caused problems for so many Roman Catholic MPs?
For Her Majesty to refuse Assent would doubtless precipitate a constitutional crisis which could and probably would bring about the end of the Monarchy. But if she were to grant Assent, would this not lead to the (Cardinal) Archbishop of Westminster excommunicating Her Majesty, if only to save her soul?