Roughly coincident with the birth of a child to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Parliament is set to make changes to the Act of Succession, allowing females to be directly in the line. The problem is that countries other than the UK have the English monarch as their soverign heads - including Canada, Australia, and others.

Obviously, if they decided they didn't like, say, Prince Charles, I'm assuming they could disassociate themselves - but do they have any other recourse if they don't like the proposed changes?

  • Can you clarify whether you are only asking about countries for whom this impacts their Head of State, or all Commonwealth countries with regards to the Head of the Commonwealth? Dec 8, 2012 at 11:32
  • I am asking about those countries for whom it impacts their titular head of state. Dec 8, 2012 at 13:27

2 Answers 2


A bill has to be passed in all commonwealth realms to allow the new rules of succession. All the countries have already decided they agree with this change but it needs to go though each country's parliament as a bill before it can happen. Should any countries disagree about implementing this change (which I doubt as it would appear extremely sexist to their populations) then either the whole thing would not happen, or more likely they would choose to/be expelled from the Commonwealth or step down from being a commonwealth realm to a normal commonwealth member.

  • Is this documented in some Commonwealth documents officially?
    – user4012
    Dec 6, 2012 at 19:24
  • I am not completely sure on that. My sources are mostly from news broadcasters such as the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation - Public Sector Media Corporation for the UK). But the commonwealth does need to agree for changes such as this to take place, this has happened but parliaments are not bound to the decisions of their high commissioners and Prime Ministers (Or other types of delegates) as it requires a bill which a premier cannot create and agree too alone. It therefore requires a mix of executive/government authority to get the ball moving, then it requires parliamentary assent.
    – UKB
    Dec 6, 2012 at 19:34
  • It requires a bill for individual countries because the succession (and likely powers) of the monarchy is bound in legislation which is specific to each country. As such they all need to agree to make a change.
    – UKB
    Dec 6, 2012 at 19:38
  • Technically this is true only of countries that have the British Monarch as their head of state. Not all Commonwealth countries do that. And there would be no need for them to be expelled from the Commonwealth. Jan 2, 2013 at 20:16
  • @DJClayworth True. I'v edited it to be more specific and to refer to commonwealth realms which is what I originally intended.
    – UKB
    Jan 2, 2013 at 23:15

Any change to the laws of succession to the British throne require the agreement of all those countries which have the British monarch as their head of state (the Commonwealth Realms).

This is set out in the Statute of Westminster 1931, whose preamble states:

any alteration in the law touching the Succession to the Throne or the Royal Style and Titles shall hereafter require the assent as well of the Parliaments of all the Dominions as of the Parliament of the United Kingdom:

All affected countries have now given their consent, though they may still need to pass legislation to put this into effect.

(See also Wikipedia article.)

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