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Charles B. Sears Law Library SUNY Buffalo Law School

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Just Can’t Wait to Be King…or Queen

Posted on: | by Christine Anne George |

Catherine and Prince William looking how we all (obviously) felt when news broke of their pregnancy on Dec. 3.

By now I’m sure you’ve heard the news. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge otherwise known as William & Kate are having a baby. No word yet on a due date, but my money’s on some time in 2013.

Many of the reports have been highlighting the fact that, regardless of the child’s gender, it will follow William in the line of succession for the British throne. As anyone who has basked in the wonder that is Downton Abbey is aware, historically, British laws had a nasty habit of blocking women from inheriting. Although laws of male primogeniture have gone the way of the eight-track player for the most part, it wasn’t until last year that the process started to make sure that both the sons and daughters of a British monarch have an equal right to inherit the crown. (Queen Elizabeth snagged the crown because her father, George VI, did not have any male heirs and she was the elder of his children.)

Apparently the UK had been meaning to change the laws for years, but William & Kate’s wedding gave them the nudge needed to spring to action. In October 2011 the leaders of the sixteen Commonwealth countries—Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu in case you were wondering­—met in Perth, Australia and agreed to amend a slew of historic laws including the 1701 Act of Settlement, the 1689 Bill of Rights, and the Royal Marriages Act of 1772. The changes can’t be applied retroactively—sorry, Princess Anne, little brothers Andrew and Edward still trump you—so William & Kate’s bundle of joy will be the first affected. Although the legislation hasn’t been passed as of yet, the Queen confirmed in May that it’s well on its way. Parliment best step it up. The baby watch clock has begun the final count down.

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