Prince William-Kate girl could be monarch

Prince William and his fiancee, Kate Middleton

Prince William and his fiancee, Kate Middleton (Credit: Getty)

LONDON -- Britain's government said Saturday it has begun reviewing the ancient, discriminatory rules of royal succession, so that if Prince William and Kate Middleton's first child were a girl she would eventually become queen.

The current rule that puts boys ahead of their sisters "would strike most people as a little old-fashioned," Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said.

It is just two weeks until the prince and Middleton get married at London's Westminster Abbey, and Clegg said many people may agree that the rules should be changed so that if the couple's first child were a girl, she would eventually inherit the throne -- even if she had a younger brother.

"I think most people in this day and age would think it's worth considering whether we change the rules so that baby girl could become the future monarch," he said. "I think that would be in keeping with the changes that are happening with society as a whole."

The Cabinet Office said the government accepts that some aspects of the succession rule "could be discriminatory."

It said the government has started discussions with British Commonwealth nations that would be directly affected by any change because they recognize the British monarch as their head of state, but declined to release details of those talks.

William is second in line to the throne after his father, Prince Charles, who is Queen Elizabeth II's firstborn child. Charles' sister Anne is lower in the line of succession than her younger brothers Andrew and Edward. Charles, in turn, had only sons, William and Harry.

Elizabeth II succeeded her father, King George VI, because he had no sons. If she had had a brother, however much younger he was, he would have jumped above her in the line of succession.

Clegg stressed that although he is "sympathetic" to an overhaul of the rule, the issue is complex and any change would take a long time.

Amending the succession law would require agreement and similar legal overhauls in the 15 Commonwealth countries where the British monarch is the head of state.

Buckingham Palace has always refrained from commenting on the issue, saying it's a matter for the government.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Newsday on social media

@Newsday

advertisement | advertise on newsday