Changing the Line of Succession to the Crown

Changing the Line of Succession to the Crown

On October 28, 2011, representatives of the Commonwealth countries for which Her Majesty the Queen is the sovereign head of state, including Canada, agreed to support changes to the rules on royal succession. Prime Minister Stephen Harper signalled Canada’s support to end the practice of placing younger brothers before their elder sisters in the line of succession. Second, he signalled support to end the prohibition against heirs marrying Roman Catholics. In December 2012, the government of the United Kingdom introduced legislation to amend the laws governing succession along these lines. The bill has been passed by the United Kingdom House of Commons and the House of Lords. This article outlines the provisions of Canadian Bill C-53 intended to indicate Canada’s agreement with the principles in the United Kingdom legislation.

The purpose of Bill C-53 is to provide the Parliament of Canada’s assent to the changes to the law governing the succession to the throne that are proposed in the United Kingdom bill. The laws governing succession are United Kingdom laws. It is wholly within the legislative authority of the Parliament of the United Kingdom to alter the body of United Kingdom laws relating to royal succession, including the English Bill of Rights of 1688 and the Act of Settlement of 1700.