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Sunday, 16 October 2011

Primogeniture

David Cameron, apparently with the blessing (or, according to some sources,
even encouragement) of his monarch is intent on abolishing primogeniture
(sic). This may have something to do with his newly discovered notion that
half the electorate are female.

For those of you not familiar with this concept (and who were not force fed
Shakespeare's Henry V), it is an adaptation of Salique (or Salic) law as
used in Gaul (France), part of which enshrined succession laws. The main
tenet was that land property could only be passed to male successors

The British monarchy, as regards title succession, works under the principle
of male-preferred primogeniture. This means that the title of monarch passes
to the first born son of the monarch (primogeniture on its own merely
implies the first born), and then through that lineage.

The suggestion is that the rule be changed so that primogeniture is
maintained (notice that this is exactly the opposite of what is being
advocated!). This would mean that the first in line would remain Prince
Charles (being the eldest, and coincidentally a son), followed by Prince
William (again the first born and again, coincidentally a son). The change
would take place when Price William fathers a child; that first born would
be next in line to the throne, regardless of sex.

Is this of any importance? It probably depends on your choice of tradition
over fairness. Nowadays, The monarchy only exists through tradition (it's
difficult to imagine the queen having recalcitrant subjects beheaded on a
whim), so equality (of the sexes) seems to be more important.

Equality is, of course, quite another matter. The monarch can be of either
sex and of any religion except if he or she is, becomes, or even marries a
Catholic then he (or she) is debarred from succession; so much for equality.

I suspect that this is really just an act of political expediency,
instigated by what was seen as a sexist gaffe in the House of Commons. Mr
Cameron was labelled a chauvinist after telling Angela Eagle, in a
'winneresque' outburst, to "calm down, dear, calm down". Had this been
directed at a male member of parliament it would have been laughed off.

My advice: don't get your undergarments (this sex equality thing seems to be
catching) in a twist and don't change tradition, there's not much of it
left, or to paraphrase, heritage ain't what it used to be.

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