Monday, August 23, 2010

York Princesses could occupy the throne together

August 23, 1930


The following is from the Associated Press, and based on reports in several British newspapers.

The Sunday Express reports that the newborn daughter of the Duke and Duchess of York is a "twilight sleep" baby. She has "dark hair and dark blue eyes, and at birth weighed seven pounds and two ounces. Her stature "was an inch below the average, masuring eighteen and a quarter inches."
Her characteristics are said to be more "of a Bowes-Lyon baby than a royal baby."
The infant princess' name is still under discussion, and the choice is "believed at present to lie between Cecilia Victoria Margaret and Cecilia Victoria Anne." The Scots are said to be "clamoring for Margaret."

The Daily Sketch points out that the birth of a daughter instead of a son "will necessitate passage of a special act of Parliament to put beyond a question the succession to the throne." The newspaper contends that the British law of primogeniture "does not apply to sisters." If there is no male heir, "two or more heiresses become coheiresses unless Parliament regulates their positions." Conceivably, Princess Elizabeth and her infant sister "may some day become coheiresses to the throne."
The paper noted that "this would create an impossible position, and the crown might even go into abeyance. The contingency is recognized as remote, but it is contended the provision against it is necessary."

The Daily Sketch was certainly wrong about the succession to the throne. Yes, it is based on primogeniture (sons before daughters, brothers before sisters), but the primogeniture is based on tradition. Moreover, there are only a very small number of peerages that allow for female succession, and even fewer that provide for the co-heiresses (which would require Parliament to decide the succession.) These latter titles are largely among the oldest of the English peerages.
Succession to the British throne is based on the Act of Settlement, which made no reference to primogeniture. The reporter for this article was grossly ill-informed.

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