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Press Release: Will the Royal baby definitely be next in line of succession?

15 July 2013

Commenting on the imminent birth of the royal baby, Professor Robert Hazell, Director of the Constitution Unit in the School of Public Policy at UCL, said:

“The British Parliament has changed the law to ensure that the eldest child will succeed, whether a boy or a girl. But that law has not yet been brought into force. The UK government has said it won’t come into force until the 15 other Commonwealth countries of which the Queen is head of state (the Realms) have made the necessary changes to their own laws.

That may take another 6-12 months. In the meantime the royal baby will be next in line, because it is the eldest (and only) child. It is not until a second child is born – and only if the first child is a girl, and the second a boy – that the new law will be required.

This whole process does highlight the peculiar difficulties in changing the law of succession. It has taken almost two years, and a lot of diplomatic effort, to bring the Realms along with us. The British constitution has been criticised for being too easy to change; but in this respect it has proved exceptionally difficult”.

Notes for Editors

  1. Professor Hazell has written a more detailed Blog about the legal difficulties on the Constitution Unit Blog website: see http://constitution-unit.com/2013/07/15/the-royal-baby-the-rules-of-succession-and-the-realms/
  2. The new UK law is the Succession to the Crown Act 2013.
  3. The 15 other Realms agreed to change their laws at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Perth, Australia in October 2011.
  4. Professor Hazell is available for interview this week and next. Contact constitution@ucl.ac.uk or phone 020 7679 4977.

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