The Basic Constitutional Rules: The Rules of Succession
Constitutional monarchy is a form of monarchy governed by rules. In Britain, these rules are of two kinds—non‐statutory rules governing hereditary succession and statutory rules laying down certain conditions that the holder of the throne must meet. Although descent is the main criterion of succession, the great constitutional struggles of the seventeenth century, culminating in the Bill of Rights of 1689 and the Act of Settlement of 1701, confirmed that the succession could be regulated by parliament. The British monarchy is a parliamentary monarchy. Indeed, the succession can only be altered by Act of Parliament. Provision is also made by Act of Parliament for cases when the sovereign is incapable or a minor, where a Regent acts in place of the sovereign. The rules regulating the royal consort and the heir to the throne and the Royal Marriages Act of 1772 are analysed. The rules of succession, being a product of the religious struggles of the seventeenth century, are now ripe for reform. So also is the Royal Marriages Act.
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