Tudor, Stuart, Hanover, Windsor, Smith, Jones, Khan and Singh
Suppose the Prince of Wales’s elder child had been a girl. Suppose she had married the male equivalent of Kate Middleton... This would mean that for several generations the Royal Family would take its name and pedigree from a pair of party planners. Many of us are not snobs and wouldn’t mind. Many others are snobs and would (look at the viewing figures for Downton Abbey if you doubt me, and ask whether a drama about Edwardian tradesmen would be quite so riveting to the public). Some people are republicans and find it hard to make way against the tide of opinion that likes a royal family rooted in ancient lineage. One re-based in the middle class wouldn’t last ten minutes.Some may ask ‘What’s in a name?’. The answer is, of course, quite a lot. While a rose by any other name would certainly smell as sweet, ultimately, being a Montague or a Capulet heralds an inescapable fate. Queen Victoria ceased being a Hanover and took the name of her husband to establish the Royal Dynasty of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. This was considered altogether too German and unacceptably foreign while their cousins were bombing our boys to kingdom come, so the name was changed in 1917 to Windsor. On marrying Prince Philip, the present Queen retained that name, though her children have the theoretical option of Mountbatten-Windsor. Had she married a Muslim, the picture above gives an illustration of how she and her consort may now appear: one may be left in no doubt as to who would have been in charge of the affairs of state, and in what faith their children would have been brought up.
Simon Heffer’s speculation is interesting insofar as the proposal to abolish primogeniture could feasibly lead to the Royal dynasty of Smith or Jones. But class aside, since Mr Cameron is concerned with matters of equality, there would be absolutely no reason why Prince William’s eldest first-born daughter could not marry a certain Mohammed Khan and establish a new Islamic dynasty, or a Sikh one, or a Hindu one... In fact, if the Royal Family came under the sort of pressure to make their House as inclusive as David Cameron is trying to make the Conservative Party – ‘representative of the nation’ – royal princes and princesses could feel obliged not only to take partners of other faiths, but to convert in the process, and sport turbans and hijabs as an outer manifestation of that inclusivity.
Nothing wrong with that, of course. Except that the equality precept could not also apply to the Monarch, who must remain a member of the Church of England. Contrary to popular belief (and the Prime Minister’s apparent understanding), the Monarch is not free to be any religion or marry into any religion except the Roman Catholic one. For the Act of Settlement requires the Monarch and his or her consort to be ‘in communion with’ the Church of England. While His Grace could write more than a few pages on the meaning of ‘koinonia’ in this context, it must be noted that it is not only Roman Catholics who are prohibited by their own Magisterium from taking bread and wine in Anglican churches: Jews and Muslims would also find this unacceptable, and so adherents to many other faiths bar themselves from being ‘in communion with’ the State Church.
The Act of Settlement was forged during an era of intolerable foreign interference in the governance of England. Like Magna Carta, it is a foundational treaty between the Monarch and his/her subjects which defines our liberties and asserts our sovereign independence from all foreign princes and potentates. And its provisions are ‘for ever’: our forebears made sure it was watertight. If, indeed, Parliament were once again to permit the Monarch to be or to marry a Roman Catholic, they would find a considerable hurdle in the clause which states: 'in all and every such case and cases the people of these realms shall be and are thereby absolved of their allegiance'. The Prime Minister appears to be oblivious to the fact that the Oath of Allegiance is contingent upon the Act of Settlement, not to mention the Act of Union.
An amendment which admits Roman Catholics into the Royal fold effectively absolves all citizens of their allegiance, thereby opening the way for republican terrorists like Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness to take their seats in Parliament.
According to The Telegraph, the Church of England has already spoken out to oppose any amendment. We read:
...the plan to abolish the Act of Settlement was quietly shelved after the Church raised significant objections centring on the British sovereign’s dual role as Supreme Governor.And His Grace has two final questions:
Church leaders expressed concern that if a future heir to the throne married a Roman Catholic, their children would be required by canon law to be brought up in that faith. This would result in the constitutionally problematic situation whereby the Supreme Governor of the Church of England was a Roman Catholic, and so ultimately answerable to a separate sovereign leader, the Pope, and the Vatican.
...Mr Clegg was initially attracted to the idea of repealing the Act but is said to have been persuaded that the difficulties raised by the Anglican Church were insurmountable.
...A spokesman for the Anglican Church said that although the Act of Succession appeared “anomalous” in the modern world, while the Church of England remained the established religion, the monarch and Supreme Governor could not owe a higher loyalty elsewhere.
He went on: “The prohibition on those in the line of succession marrying Roman Catholics derives from an earlier age and inevitably looks anomalous, not least when there is no prohibition on marriage to those of other faiths or none. But if the prohibition were removed the difficulty would still remain that establishment requires the monarch to join in communion with the Church of England as its Supreme Governor and that is not something that a Roman Catholic would be able to do consistently with the current rules of that church.”
If the Prime Minister’s primary concerns are to eradicate historical anomaly and ensure greater equality, why is he not proposing to abolish the Church of England, which is a far greater historical anomaly? And, far more importantly, will this Blairite ‘modernisation’ of the Constitution permit the Heir to Throne to marry someone of the same sex? Surely, if one is amending the Act of Settlement 1701 today in order to address the remote possibility 30 years from now of a yet unborn heir to the Throne wanting to marry a Roman Catholic, it would be rather remiss of the Government not to amend the Royal Marriages Act 1772 in order to provide for ‘gay marriage’ within the future Royal House of Khan or Fayad. Indeed, such an omission would be offensive – if not bigoted – to approximately the same number who protest against the ‘anti-Catholic’ provisions in the Act of Settlement.