Lib Dem peer: let the Royals marry Catholics

by Stephen Tall on August 4, 2007

This according to the Daily Telegraph:

Lord Lester, the Liberal Democrat peer drafted in by the Prime Minister to advise on constitutional issues, told The Daily Telegraph that the centuries-old ban was “an injustice” that should now go.

The outspoken comments from the respected peer came after it emerged that Peter Phillips, the Queen’s eldest grandson and 10th in line to the throne, might have to surrender his place in the succession. Mr Phillips, 29, the son of the Princess Royal, is now engaged to Autumn Kelly, 31, a Canadian management consultant who was baptised a Catholic. The fact was not mentioned in the Buckingham Palace announcement of the engagement last week.

But in a never-repealed provision of the 1701 Act of Settlement, which enshrined the Protestant ascendancy, British monarchs and their heirs are forbidden to become or even marry Catholics. The legislation means that either Mr Phillips must give up his place in the line of succession or Miss Kelly must formally renounce the faith into which she was baptised.

I’m neither a Royalist nor a Catholic, but this law is clearly an ass – the only reason the Telegraph identifies why it has not long since been consigned to the dustbin of archaic constitutional absurdities is, “that legislating now to end the ban on monarchs themselves being Catholics would raise the thorny issue of whether the Church of England should be disestablished”. To which the easy answer is: of course it should.