Succession rules a right royal mess

It’s good that John Key, on

TVNZ’s Breakfast programme

, committed New Zealand to changing royal succession rules that discriminate against a female heir.

British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg

restarted the constitutional debate

over the weekend by saying that “If Prince William and Catherine Middleton were to have a baby daughter as their first child, I think most people would think it is perfectly fair and normal that she would eventually become Queen of our country.”

Presently, a second-born male child would have preference, and if any of Will and Kate’s children became a Catholic (or even married a Catholic), they would be excluded from consideration.

Such rules shouldn’t remain on our statute books because they offend provisions in our Human Rights Act prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender or religion.

The danger is that politicians will continue to criticize the succession laws, but do little about them. Downing Street is quoted as saying that the issues are “

difficult and complex


They are in a right royal mess. For example, if Britain reformed its law, but couldn’t convince all of the other 16 other nations declaring allegiance to the Crown to do likewise, the consequences could be farcical. If Kate had a daughter then a son, we could see daughter reigning as Queen of England at the same time as the son was King of Canada or Jamaica or whatever.

Another problem is that the monarch is the official head of the British Anglican church, which could present difficulties for a Catholic King or Queen.

Hopefully, John Key will see there are less complications in New Zealand having its own home-grown head of state, democratically chosen by New Zealanders, and recommit my

Head of State Referenda Bill

to a parliamentary vote.