The Wedding March: And Baby Makes Trouble
It’s a problem faced by most straight couples—you haven’t even tied the knot yet, and everyone is wondering whether you’ll have children. Or in this case, whether your eldest child will inherit the crown if it’s a girl. Like the nursery rhyme says: first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a debate about primogeniture that would overhaul the entire line of succession.
Primogeniture—the right of the first-born to inherit everything—is interpreted within the British monarchy to mean the right of the first-born male child to inherit the crown. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has suggested a reform to the Royal succession that would tackle the current system and allow Kate & Wills’ firstborn to take up the throne regardless of gender.
Clegg, who describes the current system as "a little old-fashioned” (just a little?) made the statement several months after Labour MP Keith Vaz introduced a bill to Parliament that would do just that. But even if the bill passes, will its changes make a difference?
The monarch has no real power except as a figurehead, so whatever attempts made to alter the line of succession will have little real impact on the daily lives of "their" citizens. A far fairer solution would be to scrap the entire system, and stop buying into this false hierarchy based on ancestry. But whilst I will continue to campaign for a British republic with an elected Head of State, I can’t see it happening in the immediate future.
If we have to have a monarchy, we should at least have one that no longer favors men. Ludicrous as their claim to represent Britain might be, it’s doubly so when the succession is built on sexist hypocrisy.
Misogynistic legislation needs to be tackled at all levels of society, no matter how seemingly trivial. The current system enshrines in law the idea that women are unfit to rule, even if they are ruling in name only. It reinforces the idea that we are unfit for positions of power—whilst Prince Andrew, currently fourth in line to the throne, is perpetually mired in scandal, he is still a better choice than his sister Anne purely on the basis of his gender.
I’m not convinced that overhauling the line of succession would have a trickle-down effect on British sexism, but it doesn’t have to. This is a law that is unfair to women, even if those women do enjoy nearly every privilege under the sun, and its continued existence is offensive. I never thought I’d treat a royal wedding as a call to arms for anything other than a (bloodless) revolution, but to overlook such an egregious piece of misogyny would be morally wrong no matter what my beliefs.
I sincerely hope that by the time the Middleton-Windsor offspring is ready to ascend the throne, there won’t be one to ascend to. But if there is, I want the same thing the whole country deserves: the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of gender.
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