Conundrum for PM on changes to royal succession rules

Prime Minister Key said this morning he was “

not uncomfortable

” with a suggestion that he was leading Commonwealth discussions on ending discrimination in the laws of royal succession.

He implied he is more likely to get agreement to remove discrimination based on gender (that is, the current preference for male heirs) than discrimination based on religion (that is, the prohibition on Catholic heirs, or those who marry a Catholic).

The reason is that the British government is reluctant to allow Catholic heirs because the monarch is automatically head of the British Anglican Church.

Rather than give way on this, our government could draft legislation removing all discrimination in succession rules based on gender and religion. It would challenge the British government, but this would be a good thing. There’s no way a Bill that didn’t allow an heir to be a Catholic would be acceptable to the New Zealand people – or consistent with our Bill of Rights and Human Rights Act.