Page last updated at 00:22 GMT, Tuesday, 29 April 2008 01:22 UK

Swift royal law reforms ruled out

Prince Charles, Prince Edward and Prince Andrew
Princess Anne's younger brothers would succeed the throne ahead of her

The government has said it has no immediate plans to scrap a 300-year-old law that gives males precedence in the royal line of succession.

In a newspaper interview earlier this month, Solicitor General Vera Baird said the male right to succeed ahead of an older sister was "unfair".

It was reported MPs would use new equality legislation to change the law.

But the Attorney General's office has now ruled out any immediate reform, saying such a move would be complex.

"We are ready to consider arguments in this complex area, but there are no immediate plans to legislate," he said.

"To bring about changes to the law on succession would be a complex undertaking involving the amendment or repeal of a number of items of related legislation, as well as requiring the consent of the legislatures of a number of nations of the Commonwealth."

Head of state

The solicitor general made the call for the law to be rewritten in an interview with the Sunday Times earlier this month and MPs from all the main political parties gave the proposal a cautious welcome.

Currently male heirs take precedence over the British throne.

When Princess Anne was born in 1950 she was third in line to the throne, behind her mother the Queen - then Princess Elizabeth - and her older brother Prince Charles.

As her brothers Andrew and Edward were born, she dropped down the line of succession behind them and their children and is now currently 10th.

Under the Statute of Westminster 1931 any change to the law would have to be agreed by the parliaments in all countries which have the Queen as head of state.

The Queen is head of state of the UK and 15 other Commonwealth realms, including Australia and Canada.




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