Act of Settlement 1701

The Act of Settlement is an Act of the Parliament of England that was passed in 1701[5] to settle the succession to the English and Irish crowns on Protestants only. The next Protestant in line to the throne was the Electress Sophia of Hanover, a granddaughter of James VI of Scotland and I of England. After her the crowns would descend only to her non-Roman Catholic heirs.

The act was prompted by the failure of King William III and Queen Mary II, as well as of Mary's sister Queen Anne, to produce any surviving children, and the Roman Catholic religion of all other members of the House of Stuart. The line of Sophia of Hanover was the most junior among the Stuarts, but consisted of convinced Protestants. Sophia died on 8 June 1714, before the death of Queen Anne on 1 August 1714. On Queen Anne's death, Sophia's son duly became King George I and started the Hanoverian dynasty in Britain.

The act played a key role in the formation of the Kingdom of Great Britain. England and Scotland had shared a monarch since 1603, but had remained separately governed countries. The Scottish parliament was more reluctant than the English to abandon the House of Stuart, members of which had been Scottish monarchs long before they became English ones. English pressure on Scotland to accept the Act of Settlement was one factor leading to the parliamentary union of the two countries in 1707.

Under the Act of Settlement anyone who became a Roman Catholic, or who married one, became disqualified to inherit the throne. The act also placed limits on both the role of foreigners in the British government and the power of the monarch with respect to the Parliament of England. Some of those provisions have been altered by subsequent legislation.

Along with the Bill of Rights 1689, the Act of Settlement remains today one of the main constitutional laws governing the succession not only to the throne of the United Kingdom, but to those of the other Commonwealth realms, whether by assumption or by patriation.[6] The Act of Settlement cannot be altered in any realm except by that realm's own parliament and, by convention, only with the consent of all the other realms, as it touches on the succession to the shared crown.[7]

The original copy of the act is held in Hanover, Germany, in the State Archive of Lower Saxony.[8]

Following the Perth Agreement in 2011, legislation amending the act came into effect across the Commonwealth realms on 26 March 2015, and removed the disqualification arising from marriage to a Roman Catholic.

The Act of Settlement[1]
Long titleAn Act for the further Limitation of the Crown and better securing the Rights and Liberties of the Subject
Citation12 and 13 Will 3 c. 2
Territorial extent
England and Ireland initially
Royal assent1701
Other legislation
Amended by
Relates toBill of Rights 1689
Status: Amended
Revised text of statute as amended

Original context

Following the Glorious Revolution, the line of succession to the English throne was governed by the Bill of Rights 1689, which declared that the flight of James II from England to France during the revolution amounted to an abdication of the throne and that James' daughter Mary II and her husband, William III (who was also James' nephew),[9] were James' successors. The Bill of Rights also provided that the line of succession would go through their descendants, then through Mary's sister Anne and her descendants, and then to the issue of William III by a possible later marriage. During the debate, the House of Lords had attempted to append Sophia and her descendants to the line of succession, but the amendment failed in the Commons.[10]

Mary II died childless in 1694, after which William III did not remarry. In 1700, Prince William, Duke of Gloucester, who was Anne's only child to survive infancy, died of a fever at the age of 11. Thus, Anne was left as the only person in line to the throne. The Bill of Rights excluded Catholics from the throne, which ruled out James II and his descendants. However, it did not provide for the further succession after Anne. Parliament thus saw the need to settle the succession on Sophia and her descendants, and thereby guarantee the continuity of the Crown in the Protestant line.

With religion and lineage initially decided, the ascendancy of William of Orange in 1689 would also bring his partiality to his foreign favourites that followed. By 1701 English jealousy of foreigners was rampant, and action was considered necessary for correction.[11]


The Act of Settlement provided that the throne would pass to the Electress Sophia of Hanover – a granddaughter of James VI and I and a niece of King Charles I – and her descendants, but it excluded "for ever" "all and every Person and Persons who ... is are or shall be reconciled to or shall hold Communion with the See or Church of Rome or shall profess the Popish Religion or shall marry a Papist". Thus, those who were Roman Catholics, and those who married Roman Catholics, were barred from ascending the throne. Eight additional provisions of the act would only come into effect upon the death of both William and Anne:[12]

  • The monarch "shall join in communion with the Church of England". This was intended to ensure the exclusion of a Roman Catholic monarch. Along with James II's perceived despotism, his religion was the main cause of the Glorious Revolution of 1688, and of the previous linked religious and succession problems which had been resolved by the joint monarchy of William III and Mary II.
  • If a person not native to England comes to the throne, England will not wage war for "any dominions or territories which do not belong to the Crown of England, without the consent of Parliament". This was far-sighted, because when a member of the House of Hanover ascended the British throne, he would retain the territories of the Electorate of Hanover in what is now Lower Saxony, then part of the Holy Roman Empire. This provision has been dormant since Queen Victoria ascended the throne, because she did not inherit Hanover under the Salic Laws of the German-speaking states.
  • No monarch may leave "the dominions of England, Scotland, or Ireland", without the consent of Parliament. This provision was repealed in 1716, at the request of George I who was also the Elector of Hanover and Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg within the Holy Roman Empire; because of this, and also for personal reasons, he wished to visit Hanover from time to time.[13]
  • All government matters within the jurisdiction of the Privy Council were to be transacted there, and all council resolutions were to be signed by those who advised and consented to them. This was because Parliament wanted to know who was deciding policies, as sometimes councillors' signatures normally attached to resolutions were absent. This provision was repealed early in Queen Anne's reign, as many councillors ceased to offer advice and some stopped attending meetings altogether.[13]
  • No foreigner ("no Person born out of the Kingdoms of England Scotland or Ireland or the Dominions thereunto belonging"), even if naturalised or made a denizen (unless born of English parents), can be a Privy Councillor or a member of either House of Parliament, or hold "any Office or Place of Trust, either Civill [sic] or Military, or to [sic] have any Grant of Lands, Tenements or Hereditaments from the Crown, to himself or to any other or others in Trust for him".[11] Subsequent nationality laws (today primarily the British Nationality Act 1981) made naturalised citizens the equal of those native born, but otherwise this provision still applies. It has however been disapplied in particular cases by a number of other statutes.
  • No person who has an office under the monarch, or receives a pension from the Crown, was to be a Member of Parliament. This provision was inserted to avoid unwelcome royal influence over the House of Commons. It remains in force, but with several exceptions. (As a side effect, this provision means that members of the Commons seeking to resign from parliament can get round the age-old prohibition on resignation by obtaining a sinecure in the control of the Crown; while several offices have historically been used for this purpose, two are currently in use: appointments generally alternate between the stewardships of the Chiltern Hundreds and of the Manor of Northstead.[14])
  • Judges' commissions are valid quamdiu se bene gesserint (during good behaviour) and if they do not behave themselves, they can be removed only by both Houses of Parliament (or in other Commonwealth realms the one House of Parliament, depending on the legislature's structure.) This provision was the result of various monarchs influencing judges' decisions, and its purpose was to assure judicial independence. This patent was used prior the 1701 but did not prevent Charles I from removing Sir John Walter as Chief Baron of the Exchequer.
  • That "no Pardon under the Great Seal of England be pleadable to an Impeachment by the Commons in Parliament". This meant in effect that no pardon by the monarch was to save someone from being impeached by the House of Commons.


For different reasons, various constitutionalists have praised the Act of Settlement: Henry Hallam called the Act "the seal of our constitutional laws" and David Lindsay Keir placed its importance above the Bill of Rights of 1689.[15] Naamani Tarkow has written: "If one is to make sweeping statements, one may say that, save Magna Carta (more truly, its implications), the Act of Settlement is probably the most significant statute in English history".[16]

Kingdom of Great Britain

Act of Settlement 3323
Facsimile of the Act of Settlement sent to Electress Sophia of Hanover
Kurfuerstin Sophie
Sophia, Electress of Hanover

The Act of Settlement was, in many ways, the major cause of the union of Scotland with England and Wales to form the Kingdom of Great Britain. The Parliament of Scotland was not happy with the Act of Settlement and, in response, passed the Act of Security in 1704, through which Scotland reserved the right to choose its own successor to Queen Anne. Stemming from this, the Parliament of England decided that, to ensure the stability and future prosperity of Great Britain, full union of the two parliaments and nations was essential before Anne's death.

It used a combination of exclusionary legislation (the Alien Act 1705), politics, and bribery to achieve this within three years under the Act of Union 1707. This success was in marked contrast to the four attempts at political union between 1606 and 1689, which all failed owing to a lack of political will in both kingdoms. By virtue of Article II of the Treaty of Union, which defined the succession to the throne of Great Britain, the Act of Settlement became part of Scots Law as well.

Succession to the Crown

In addition to James II (who died a few months after the act received royal assent) and his Roman Catholic children, Prince James and the Princess Royal, the act also excluded the descendants of King James's sister, Henrietta, the youngest daughter of Charles I. Henrietta's daughter, Anne, was then the Queen of Sardinia and a Roman Catholic; Jacobite pretenders after 1807 are descended from her.

With the legitimate descendants of Charles I either childless (in the case of William III and Anne) or Roman Catholic, Parliament's choice was limited to the Protestant descendants of Sophia of Hanover, the daughter of the late Elizabeth of Bohemia, who was the only other child of King James I not to have died in childhood. Elizabeth had borne nine children who reached adulthood, of whom Sophia was the youngest daughter. However, in 1701, Sophia was the senior Protestant with a legitimate claim to the English throne; Parliament passed over senior living representatives of lines which included Elizabeth Charlotte, Duchess of Orléans; Louis Otto, Prince of Salm, and his sisters; Anne Henriette, Princess of Condé; Benedicta Henrietta, Duchess of Brunswick-Lüneburg; and Sophia's sister, Louise Hollandine of the Palatinate because they were all Roman Catholic.

Removal from the succession due to Catholicism

Since the Act's passing the most senior living member of the royal family to have married a Roman Catholic, and thereby to have been removed from the line of succession, is Prince Michael of Kent, who married Baroness Marie-Christine von Reibnitz in 1978; he was fifteenth in the line of succession at the time. He was restored to the line of succession in 2015 when the Succession to the Crown Act 2013 came into force, and became 34th in line.[17]

The next most senior living descendant of the Electress Sophia who had been ineligible to succeed on this ground is George Windsor, Earl of St Andrews, the elder son of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, who married the Roman Catholic Sylvana Palma Tomaselli in 1988. His son, Lord Downpatrick, converted to Roman Catholicism in 2003 and is the most senior descendant of Sophia to be barred as a result of his religion. In 2008 his daughter, Lady Marina Windsor, also converted to Catholicism and was removed from the line of succession. More recently, Peter Phillips, the son of Anne, Princess Royal, and eleventh in line to the throne, married Autumn Kelly; Kelly had been brought up as a Roman Catholic, but she converted to Anglicanism prior to the wedding. Had she not done so, Phillips would have forfeited his place in the succession upon their marriage.

Excluding those princesses who have married into Roman Catholic royal families, such as Marie of Edinburgh, Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg and Princess Beatrice of Edinburgh, one member of the Royal Family (that is, with the style of Royal Highness) has converted to Roman Catholicism since the passage of the Act: the Duchess of Kent, wife of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent who converted on 14 January 1994, but her husband did not lose his place in the succession because she was an Anglican at the time of their marriage.

Present status

As well as being part of the law of the United Kingdom, the Act of Settlement was received into the laws of all the countries and territories over which the British monarch reigned. It remains part of the laws of the 16 Commonwealth realms and the relevant jurisdictions within those realms. In accordance with established convention, the Statute of Westminster 1931 and later laws, the Act of Settlement (along with the other laws governing the succession of the Commonwealth realms) may only be changed with the agreement of all the realms (and, in some federal realms, the constituent members of those federations).

Amendment proposals

Challenges have been made against the Act of Settlement, especially its provisions regarding Roman Catholics and preference for males. However, changing the Act is a complex process, since the Act governs the shared succession of all the Commonwealth realms. The Statute of Westminster 1931 acknowledges by established convention that any changes to the rules of succession may be made only with the agreement of all of the states involved, with concurrent amendments to be made by each state's parliament or parliaments. Further, as the current monarch's eldest child and, in turn, his eldest child, are Anglican males, any change to the succession laws would have no immediate implications. Consequently, there was little public concern with the issues and debate had been confined largely to academic circles until the November 2010 announcement that Prince William was to marry. This raised the question of what would happen if he were to produce first a daughter and then a son.

The Times reported on 6 November 1995 that Prince Charles had said on that day to Tony Blair and Paddy Ashdown that "Catholics should be able to ascend to the British throne". Ashdown claimed the Prince said: "I really can't think why we can't have Catholics on the throne".[18] In 1998, during debate on a Succession to the Crown Bill, Junior Home Office Minister Lord Williams of Mostyn informed the House of Lords that the Queen had "no objection to the Government's view that in determining the line of succession to the throne, daughters and sons should be treated in the same way."[19]


In October 2011 the Australian federal government was reported to have reached an agreement with all of the states on potential changes to their laws in the wake of amendments to the Act of Settlement.[20] The practice of the Australian states—for example, New South Wales and Victoria[21][22]—has been, when legislating to repeal some imperial statutes so far as they still applied in Australia, to provide that imperial statutes concerning the royal succession remain in force.

The legal process required at the federal level remains, theoretically, unclear. The Australian constitution, as was noted during the crisis of 1936, contains no power for the federal parliament to legislate with respect to the monarchy.[23] Everything thus turns upon the status and meaning of clause 2 in the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900, which provides: "The provisions of this Act referring to the Queen shall extend to Her Majesty's heirs and successors in the sovereignty of the United Kingdom."[24]

Anne Twomey reviews three possible interpretations of the clause.[23]

  • First: it "mandates that whoever is the sovereign of the United Kingdom is also, by virtue of this external fact, sovereign of Australia"; accordingly, changes to British succession laws would have no effect on Australian law, but if the British amendment changed the sovereign, then the new sovereign of the United Kingdom would automatically become the new sovereign of Australia.
  • Second, it is "merely an interpretative provision", operating to ensure that references to "the Queen" in the Constitution are references to whoever may at the time be the incumbent of the "sovereignty of the United Kingdom" as determined with regard to Australia, following the Australia Act 1986, by Australian law.
  • Or, third, it incorporates the United Kingdom rules of succession into the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act, which itself can now be altered only by Australia, according to the Australia Act 1986; in that way, the British rules of succession have been patriated to Australia and, with regard to Australia, are subject to amendment or repeal solely by Australian law.

However, Twomey expresses confidence that, if the High Court of Australia were to be faced with the problems of covering clause 2, it would find some way to conclude that, with regard to Australia, the clause is subject solely to Australian law.[25] Canadian scholar Richard Toporoski theorised in 1998 that "if, let us say, an alteration were to be made in the United Kingdom to the Act of Settlement 1701, providing for the succession of the Crown... [i]t is my opinion that the domestic constitutional law of Australia or Papua New Guinea, for example, would provide for the succession in those countries of the same person who became Sovereign of the United Kingdom."[6]

In practice, when legislating for the Perth Agreement (see below), the Australian governments took the approach of the states requesting, and referring power to, the federal government to enact the legislation on behalf of the states (under paragraph 51(xxxviii) of the Australian Constitution) and the Commonwealth of Australia.


In Canada, where the Act of Settlement (French: Acte d'établissement) is now a part of Canadian constitutional law, Tony O'Donohue, a Canadian civic politician, took issue with the provisions that exclude Roman Catholics from the throne, and which make the monarch of Canada the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, requiring him or her to be an Anglican. This, he claimed, discriminated against non-Anglicans, including Catholics, who are the largest faith group in Canada.[26] In 2002, O'Donohue launched a court action that argued the Act of Settlement violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but, the case was dismissed by the court.[27] It found that, as the Act of Settlement is part of the Canadian constitution, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as another part of the same constitution, does not have supremacy over it. Also, the court noted that, while Canada has the power to amend the line of succession to the Canadian throne, the Statute of Westminster stipulates that the agreement of the governments of the fifteen other Commonwealth realms that share the Crown would first have to be sought if Canada wished to continue its relationship with these countries. An appeal of the decision was dismissed on 16 March 2005.[28] Some commentators state that, as a result of this, any single provincial legislature could hinder any attempts to change this Act, and by extension, to the line of succession for the shared crown of all 16 Commonwealth realms.[29][30][31][32][33] Others contend that that is not the case, and changes to the succession instituted by an Act of the Parliament of Canada "[in accord] with the convention of symmetry that preserves the personal unity of the British and Dominion Crowns".[34]

With the announcement in 2007 of the engagement of Peter Phillips to Autumn Kelly, a Roman Catholic and a Canadian, discussion about the Act of Settlement was revived. Norman Spector called in The Globe and Mail for Prime Minister Stephen Harper to address the issue of the act's bar on Catholics, saying Phillips' marriage to Kelly would be the first time the provisions of the act would bear directly on Canada—Phillips would be barred from acceding to the Canadian throne because he married a Roman Catholic Canadian.[26] (In fact, the Earl of St Andrews had already lost his place in the line of succession when he married the Roman Catholic Canadian Sylvana Palma Tomaselli in 1988. But St Andrews' place in the line of succession was significantly lower than Phillips'.) Criticism of the Act of Settlement due to the Phillips–Kelly marriage was muted when Autumn Kelly converted to Anglicanism shortly before her marriage, thus preserving her husband's place in the line of succession.

United Kingdom

From time to time there has been debate over repealing the clause that prevents Roman Catholics, or those who marry one, from ascending to the British throne. Proponents of repeal argue that the clause is a bigoted anachronism; Cardinal Winning, who was leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, called the act an "insult" to Catholics. Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England, pointed out that Prince William (later the Duke of Cambridge) "can marry by law a Hindu, a Buddhist, anyone, but not a Roman Catholic."[35] Opponents of repeal, such as Enoch Powell and Adrian Hilton, believe that it would lead to the disestablishment of the Church of England as the state religion if a Roman Catholic were to come to the throne. They also note that the monarch must swear to defend the faith and be a member of the Anglican Communion, but that a Roman Catholic monarch would, like all Roman Catholics, owe allegiance to the Pope. This would, according to opponents of repeal, amount to a loss of sovereignty for the Anglican Church.

When in December 1978 there was media speculation that Prince Charles might marry a Roman Catholic, Powell defended the provision that excludes Roman Catholics from ascending the throne, claiming his objection was not rooted in religious bigotry but in political considerations. He stated a Roman Catholic monarch would mean the acceptance of a source of authority external to the realm and "in the literal sense, foreign to the Crown-in-Parliament ... Between Roman Catholicism and royal supremacy there is, as Saint Thomas More concluded, no reconciliation." Powell concluded that a Roman Catholic crown would be the destruction of the Church of England because "it would contradict the essential character of that church."

He continued:

When Thomas Hobbes wrote that "the Papacy is no other than the ghost of the deceased Roman Empire sitting crowned upon the grave thereof", he was promulgating an enormously important truth. Authority in the Roman Church is the exertion of that imperium from which England in the 16th century finally and decisively declared its national independence as the alter imperium, the "other empire", of which Henry VIII declared "This realm of England is an empire" ... It would signal the beginning of the end of the British monarchy. It would portend the eventual surrender of everything that has made us, and keeps us still, a nation.[36]

The Scottish Parliament unanimously passed a motion in 1999 calling for the complete removal of any discrimination linked to the monarchy and the repeal of the Act of Settlement.[37] The following year, The Guardian challenged the succession law in court,[38] claiming that it violated the European Convention on Human Rights, which provides,

The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in this Convention shall be secured without discrimination on any ground such as sex, race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth, or other status.

As the Convention nowhere lists the right to succeed to the Crown as a human right, the challenge was rejected.

Adrian Hilton, writing in The Spectator in 2003, defended the Act of Settlement as not "irrational prejudice or blind bigotry", but claimed that it was passed because "the nation had learnt that when a Roman Catholic monarch is upon the throne, religious and civil liberty is lost." He points to the Pope's claiming universal jurisdiction, and Hilton argues that "it would be intolerable to have, as the sovereign of a Protestant and free country, one who owes any allegiance to the head of any other state" and contends that, if such situation came about, "we will have undone centuries of common law." He said that because the Roman Catholic Church does not recognise the Church of England as an apostolic church, a Roman Catholic monarch who abided by their faith's doctrine would be obliged to view Anglican and Church of Scotland archbishops, bishops, and clergy as part of the laity and therefore "lacking the ordained authority to preach and celebrate the sacraments." (Hilton noted that the Church of Scotland's Presbyterian polity does not include bishops or archbishops.) Hilton said a Roman Catholic monarch would be unable to be crowned by the Archbishop of Canterbury and notes that other European states have similar religious provisions for their monarchs: Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, whose constitutions compel their monarchs to be Lutherans; the Netherlands, which has a constitution requiring its monarchs be members of the Protestant House of Orange; and Belgium, which has a constitution that provides for the succession to be through Roman Catholic houses.[39]

In December 2004, a private member's bill—the Succession to the Crown Bill—was introduced in the House of Lords. The government, headed by Tony Blair, blocked all attempts to revise the succession laws, claiming it would raise too many constitutional issues and it was unnecessary at the time. In the British general election the following year, Michael Howard promised to work towards having the prohibition removed if the Conservative Party gained a majority of seats in the House of Commons, but the election was won by Blair's Labour Party. Four years later, plans drawn up by Chris Bryant were revealed that would end the exclusion of Catholics from the throne and end the doctrine of agnatic (male-preference) primogeniture in favour of absolute primogeniture, which governs succession solely on birth order and not on sex.[40] The issue was raised again in January 2009, when a private member's bill to amend the Act of Succession was introduced in parliament.

Across the realms

In early 2011 Keith Vaz, a Labour Member of Parliament, introduced to the House of Commons at Westminster a private member's bill which proposed that the Act of Settlement be amended to remove the provisions relating to Roman Catholicism and change the primogeniture governing the line of succession to the British throne from agnatic to absolute cognatic. Vaz sought support for his project from the Canadian Cabinet and Prime Minister Stephen Harper, but the Office of the Prime Minister of Canada responded that the issue was "not a priority for the government or for Canadians without further elaboration on the merits or drawbacks of the proposed reforms". Stephenson King, Prime Minister of Saint Lucia, said he supported the idea and it was reported that the government of New Zealand did, as well.[41] The Monarchist League of Canada said at the time to the media that it "supports amending the Act of Settlement in order to modernize the succession rules."[42]

Later the same year, the Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Nick Clegg, announced that the government was considering a change in the law.[43][44] At approximately the same time, it was reported that British Prime Minister David Cameron had written to each of the prime ministers of the other fifteen Commonwealth realms, asking for their support in changing the succession to absolute primogeniture and notifying them he would raise his proposals at that year's Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Perth, Australia.[45] Cameron reportedly also proposed removing the restriction on successors being or marrying Roman Catholics; however, potential Roman Catholic successors would be required to convert to Anglicanism prior to acceding to the throne. In reaction to the letter and media coverage, Harper stated that, this time, he was "supportive" of what he saw as "reasonable modernizations".[46]

At CHOGM on 28 October 2011, the prime ministers of the other Commonwealth realms agreed to support Cameron's proposed changes to the Act.[47][48][49] The bill put before the Parliament of the United Kingdom would act as a model for the legislation required to be passed in at least some of the other realms, and any changes would only first take effect if the Duke of Cambridge were to have a daughter before a son.[20][50][51]

The British group Republic asserted that succession reform would not make the monarchy any less discriminatory.[47] As it welcomed the gender equality reforms, the British newspaper The Guardian criticized the lack of a proposal to remove the ban on Catholics sitting on the throne,[52] as did Alex Salmond, First Minister of Scotland, who pointed out that "It is deeply disappointing that the reform [of the Act of Settlement of 1701] has stopped short of removing the unjustifiable barrier on a Catholic becoming monarch."[37] On the subject, Cameron asserted: "Let me be clear, the monarch must be in communion with the Church of England because he or she is the head of that Church."[37]

The disqualification arising from marriage to a Roman Catholic was removed by the Succession to the Crown Act 2013.[53]

See also


  1. ^ The citation of this act by this short title was authorised by the Short Titles Act 1896, section 1 and first schedule. Due to the repeal of that provision it is now authorised by the Interpretation Act 1978, section 19(2). The short title of this Act is unusual in that it does not contain the year in which it was passed.
  2. ^ Toffoli, Gary (9 February 2013), Is There a Canadian Law of Succession and Is There a Canadian Process of Amendment? (PDF), Canadian Royal Heritage Trust, pp. 3–4, archived from the original (PDF) on 27 November 2013, retrieved 12 February 2013
  3. ^ Macgregor Dawson, Robert (1970). The Government of Canada (5th ed.). Toronto: University of Toronto Press. p. 63.
  4. ^ Anne Twomey (18 September 2014). Professor Anne Twomey - Succession to the Crown: foiled by Canada? (Digital video). London: University College London.
  5. ^ The act received Royal Assent in 1701. However, it is formally dated as 1700 in official use, such as the listing for the act in the Chronological Table of the Statutes, because acts passed before the Acts of Parliament (Commencement) Act 1793 came into force are dated by the year in which the relevant parliamentary session began, which, in this case, was 1700 (OS).
  6. ^ a b Toporoski, Richard (1998). "The Invisible Crown". Monarchy Canada. Toronto: Monarchist League of Canada (Summer 1998). Archived from the original on 9 February 2008. Retrieved 16 May 2009.
  7. ^ UK Parliament. The Statute of Westminster 1931 as amended (see also enacted form), from
  8. ^ At "Cal. Or. 63, 1" in the Main State Archive, Hanover (Hauptstaatsarchiv Hannover—HStAH), within the State Archive of Lower Saxony (Niedersächsisches Landesarchiv (Standort Hannover)).
  9. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 July 2015. Retrieved 7 October 2014.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ Melville, Lewis (1908). The First George in Hanover and England. London: Isaac Pitman and Sons. pp. 130–131.
  11. ^ a b Henriques, H. S. (January 1907). "The Political Rights of English Jews". The Jewish Quarterly Review. 19 (2): 311–312. JSTOR 1451130.
  12. ^ "Act of Settlement 1700". BAILII. Retrieved 20 October 2011.
  13. ^ a b Naamani Tarkow, I. (1943). "The Significance of the Act of Settlement in the Evolution of English Democracy". Political Science Quarterly. 58 (4): 537–561 at p. 547. doi:10.2307/2144947.
  14. ^ "The Chiltern Hundreds" (PDF). House of Commons Information Office. 1 June 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 October 2008. Retrieved 12 June 2008.
  15. ^ Quoted in Tarkow, p. 537.
  16. ^ Tarkow, p. 561.
  17. ^ "What do the new royal succession changes mean?". Royal Central. 26 March 2015. Retrieved 30 March 2015.
  18. ^ "Article", The Times, 6 November 1995
  19. ^ "Queen backs historic change to who may rule". BBC News. 27 February 1998. Retrieved 5 July 2011.
  20. ^ a b Coorey, Phillip (29 October 2011). "Leaders abandon rule on male heir succession". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 29 October 2011.
  21. ^ Elizabeth II (1969). "Imperial Acts Application Act 1969". 6. Sydney: New South Wales Government Printer. Retrieved 30 October 2011.
  22. ^ Elizabeth II (1980). "Imperial Acts Act 1980". 6. Melbourne: Government Printer. Retrieved 30 October 2011.
  23. ^ a b Twomey, pp. 8–9
  24. ^ Victoria (1901). "Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900". 2. Westminster: Queen's Printer. Retrieved 31 October 2011.
  25. ^ Twomey, pp. 14–16
  26. ^ a b Spector, Norman (30 August 2007). "Why Canada must take on Britain over the 1701 Act of Settlement". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 29 October 2011.
  27. ^ O’Donohue v. Canada 2003 CanLII 41404 (26 June 2003), Superior Court of Justice (Ontario, Canada)
  28. ^ O'Donohue v. Canada 2005 CanLII 6369 (16 March 2005)
  29. ^ "Changing the Rules of Succession and the Problem of the Realms". University College London. Retrieved 9 January 2012.
  30. ^ "A few thoughts on the monarchy". On procedure and politics. 27 April 2011. Archived from the original on 11 October 2011. Retrieved 9 January 2012.
  31. ^ "Royal Succession rules: view from the Realms". Constitution Unit Blog. 20 October 2011. Retrieved 9 January 2012.
  32. ^ Bowden, James; Philippe, Lagassé (6 December 2012), "Succeeding to the Canadian throne", Ottawa Citizen, archived from the original on 10 January 2013, retrieved 6 December 2012
  33. ^ Vatican Insider, 23 January 2013. Retrieved 2013-01-23
  34. ^ Jackson, D. Michael (2013). "Reforming the Succession to the Throne". The Crown and Canadian Federalism. Toronto: Dundurn Press. ISBN 978-1-4597-0988-1.
  35. ^ "Let monarchy marry Catholics". BBC News Online. 2 June 2002. Retrieved 30 March 2010.
  36. ^ Heffer, Simon (1999). Like the Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell. London: Phoenix Giant. pp. 810–812. ISBN 0-7538-0820-X.
  37. ^ a b c "Catholics still barred from throne despite law change". The Scotsman. 28 October 2011. Retrieved 29 October 2011.
  38. ^ Dyer, Clare (6 December 2000). "A Challenge to the Crown: now is the time for change". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 January 2010.
  39. ^ Hilton, Adrian (8 November 2003). "The price of liberty". The Spectator. Archived from the original on 4 June 2007.
  40. ^ Wintour, Patrick (25 September 2008). "End of the Anglican crown – 300 year bar to be lifted". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 26 September 2008. Retrieved 25 September 2008.
  41. ^ Cecil, Nicholas (8 March 2011). "St Lucia backs change to laws of succession". London Evening Standard. Archived from the original on 28 May 2011. Retrieved 14 March 2011.
  42. ^ Boswell, Randy (21 January 2011). "Brit asks Canada for help rewriting the rules of the Crown". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 22 January 2011.
  43. ^ "Fresh bid to reform monarchy law". BBC News Online. 21 January 2009. Retrieved 29 October 2011.
  44. ^ "Royal succession reform is being discussed, Clegg says". BBC News Online. 16 April 2011. Retrieved 19 September 2011.
  45. ^ "David Cameron proposes changes to royal succession". BBC. 12 October 2011. Retrieved 14 October 2011.
  46. ^ Cheadle, Bruce (14 October 2011). "Harper 'supportive' of updating royal succession rules". Toronto Star. Retrieved 14 October 2011.
  47. ^ a b "Girls equal in British throne succession". BBC News Online. 28 October 2011. Retrieved 28 October 2011.
  48. ^ Kennedy, Mark (29 October 2011). "Commonwealth leaders agree to change archaic succession rules". Montreal Gazette. Retrieved 29 October 2011.
  49. ^ Office of the Prime Minister of Canada (28 October 2011). "PM welcomes proposal to amend rules governing the royal line of succession". Queen's Printer for Canada. Archived from the original on 30 October 2011. Retrieved 29 October 2011.
  50. ^ "Girls equal in British throne succession". BBC News. 28 October 2011. Retrieved 28 October 2011.
  51. ^ Watt, Nicholas (28 October 2011). "Royal succession gender equality approved by Commonwealth". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 October 2011.
  52. ^ Editorial Board (28 October 2011). "Royal succession: Queen and country". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 October 2011.
  53. ^ Succession to the Crown Act 2013, Explanatory Notes


  • Naamani Tarkow, I. (1943). "The Significance of the Act of Settlement in the Evolution of English Democracy". Political Science Quarterly. 58 (4): 537–561. doi:10.2307/2144947.
  • Stevens, Robert (2002). The English Judges. Oxford and Portland, Oregon: Hart Publishing. pp. 1–13. ISBN 1-84113-495-3.
  • Twomey, Anne (2011). "Changing the Rules of Succession to the Throne". Sydney Law School Legal Studies Research Paper. University of Sydney, Faculty of Law. 11 (71). SSRN 1943287.

External links

1701 in Ireland

Events from the year 1701 in Ireland.

Accession Council

In the United Kingdom, the Accession Council is a ceremonial body which assembles in St James's Palace upon the death of a monarch (Demise of the Crown), to formally proclaim the accession of the successor to the throne. Under the terms of the Act of Settlement 1701, a new monarch succeeds automatically. The proclamation merely confirms by name the identity of the heir who has succeeded.

The Council is made up of Privy Counsellors, Great Officers of State, members of the House of Lords, the Lord Mayor of the City of London, the Aldermen of the City of London, High Commissioners of Commonwealth realms, and other civil servants.

Act of Security 1704

The Act of Security 1704 (also referred to as the Act for the Security of the Kingdom) was a response by the Parliament of Scotland to the Parliament of England's Act of Settlement 1701. Queen Anne's last surviving child, William, Duke of Gloucester, had died in 1700, and both parliaments needed to find a Protestant successor. The English Parliament had settled on Electress Sophia of Hanover, granddaughter of King James VI and I, without consulting the Scottish Parliament.

The response of the Scottish Parliament was to pass a bill in 1703 requiring that, on the death of Queen Anne without issue, the three Estates of the Parliament were to appoint a Protestant successor from the descendants of the Scottish kings, but not the English successor unless various economic, political and religious conditions were met. The bill was refused Royal Assent by the Lord High Commissioner to the Parliament of Scotland.

The following year, 1704, the bill became an Act after the Scottish Parliament refused to raise taxes and sought to withdraw troops from the Duke of Marlborough's army in the War of the Spanish Succession unless Royal Assent was given.

The English Parliament retaliated with the Alien Act 1705, threatening to cut trade and free movement between the two countries, unless negotiations opened leading either to the repeal of the Act of Security, or (as in the event happened) to the Act of Union in 1707. The end result was the Union of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain, approximately one hundred years after the Union of the Crowns.

The Parliament of Great Britain passed an Act (Repeal of Certain Scotch Acts 1707 6 Ann. c. 32) explicitly repealing this Act together with the Act anent Peace and War.

Act of Settlement (disambiguation)

Act of Settlement most commonly refers to the Act of Settlement 1701, an Act of the Parliament of England.

Act of Settlement or Settlement Act may also refer to:

Act for the Settlement of Ireland 1652, in response to the Irish Rebellion of 1641

Act of Settlement 1657, ratifying previous decrees from the Act for the Settlement of Ireland 1652

Act of Settlement 1662, a partial reversal of the Act of Settlement of 1652

Poor Relief Act 1662 ("the Settlement Act"), clarifying which parishes were responsible for Poor Relief

Act of Settlement 1703, clarifying the status of the population of the Isle of Man

Alien Act 1705

The Alien Act was a law passed by the Parliament of England in 1705, as a response to the Parliament of Scotland's Act of Security of 1704, which in turn was partially a response to the English Act of Settlement 1701. Lord Godolphin, the Lord High Treasurer, was instrumental in the Union of 1707 and all the Acts leading up to it. The Alien Act was passed to prevent the inconveniences that would occur hastily if these two Kingdoms were not to become one Union.The Alien Act provided that Scottish nationals in England were to be treated as aliens (foreign nationals), and estates held by Scots would be treated as alien property, making inheritance much less certain. It also included an embargo on the import of Scottish products into England and English colonies – about half of Scotland's trade, covering goods such as linen, cattle and coal. Faced with the economic pressure the Scottish decided to unionize, something England had wanted for over a century. With the Union in 1707 free trade was established along with a single parliament.

The Act contained a provision that it would be suspended if the Scots entered into negotiations regarding a proposed union of the parliaments of Scotland and England. The Act demanded that a settlement of succession or authorize union negotiation by December of 1705. Combined with English financial offers to refund Scottish losses on the Darien scheme, the Act achieved its aim, leading to the Acts of Union 1707 uniting the two countries as the Kingdom of Great Britain.

Anne, Queen of Great Britain

Anne (6 February 1665 – 1 August 1714) was the Queen of England, Scotland and Ireland between 8 March 1702 and 1 May 1707. On 1 May 1707, under the Acts of Union, two of her realms, the kingdoms of England and Scotland, united as a single sovereign state known as Great Britain. She continued to reign as Queen of Great Britain and Ireland until her death in 1714.

Anne was born in the reign of her uncle Charles II, who had no legitimate children. Her father, Charles's younger brother James, was thus heir presumptive to the throne. His suspected Roman Catholicism was unpopular in England, and on Charles's instructions Anne and her elder sister, Mary, were raised as Anglicans. On Charles's death in 1685, James succeeded to the throne, but just three years later he was deposed in the Glorious Revolution of 1688. Mary and her husband, the Dutch Protestant William III of Orange (a cousin to Anne and Mary), became joint monarchs. Although the sisters had been close, disagreements over Anne's finances, status and choice of acquaintances arose shortly after Mary's accession and they became estranged. William and Mary had no children. After Mary's death in 1694, William reigned alone until his own death in 1702, when Anne succeeded him.

During her reign, Anne favoured moderate Tory politicians, who were more likely to share her Anglican religious views than their opponents, the Whigs. The Whigs grew more powerful during the course of the War of the Spanish Succession, until 1710 when Anne dismissed many of them from office. Her close friendship with Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough, turned sour as the result of political differences. The Duchess took revenge in an unflattering description of the Queen in her memoirs, which was widely accepted by historians until Anne was re-assessed in the late 20th century.

Anne was plagued by ill health throughout her life, and from her thirties, she grew increasingly ill and obese. Despite seventeen pregnancies by her husband, Prince George of Denmark, she died without surviving issue and was the last monarch of the House of Stuart. Under the Act of Settlement 1701, which excluded all Catholics, she was succeeded by her second cousin George I of the House of Hanover.

Bill of Rights 1689

The Bill of Rights, also known as the English Bill of Rights, is an Act of the Parliament of England that sets out certain basic civil rights and clarifies who would be next to inherit the Crown. It received the Royal Assent on 16 December 1689 and is a restatement in statutory form of the Declaration of Right presented by the Convention Parliament to William III and Mary II in February 1689, inviting them to become joint sovereigns of England. The Bill of Rights lays down limits on the powers of the monarch and sets out the rights of Parliament, including the requirement for regular parliaments, free elections, and freedom of speech in Parliament. It sets out certain rights of individuals including the prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment and reestablished the right of Protestants to have arms for their defence within the rule of law. Furthermore, the Bill of Rights described and condemned several misdeeds of James II of England.These ideas reflected those of the political thinker John Locke and they quickly became popular in England. It also sets out – or, in the view of its drafters, restates – certain constitutional requirements of the Crown to seek the consent of the people, as represented in Parliament.In the United Kingdom, the Bill of Rights is further accompanied by Magna Carta, the Petition of Right, the Habeas Corpus Act 1679 and the Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949 as some of the basic documents of the uncodified British constitution. A separate but similar document, the Claim of Right Act 1689, applies in Scotland. The Bill of Rights 1689 was one of the inspirations for the United States Bill of Rights.

Along with the Act of Settlement 1701, the Bill of Rights is still in effect in all Commonwealth realms. Following the Perth Agreement in 2011, legislation amending both of them came into effect across the Commonwealth realms on 26 March 2015.

Coronation Oath Act 1688

The Coronation Oath Act 1688 (1 Will & Mary c 6) is an Act of the Parliament of England. It was passed in 1689 (New Style; 1688 Old Style). The preamble noted that "by the Law and Ancient Usage of this Realm" the monarchs of England had taken a solemn oath at their coronation to maintain the statute laws and customs of the country and of its inhabitants, but the text of this oath had become partly meaningless over time, "framed in doubtful Words and Expressions with relation to ancient Laws and Constitutions at this time unknown". It established a single uniform oath to be taken by future monarchs at their coronation, and also established that this oath was to be taken by William III and Mary II when they were crowned. The oath was fundamentally different from the traditional coronation oath which recognized laws as being the grant of the King whereas the Act's oath sought to bind the King to rule according to the law agreed in parliament. The oath was shorter than the one used in 1660, removing a number of awkward phrases and references to past monarchs; a significant alteration was the explicit inclusion of an oath to maintain "the true Profession of the Gospel and the Protestant Reformed Religion Established by Law", rather than the somewhat more vague promise to "Protect and Defend the Bishops and Churches under [my] Government."

Section 2 of the Act of Settlement 1701 reiterated the oath. This Act mostly remains in force as of 2016. (Section 4, from "bee it" to "enacted that" was repealed by section 1(1) of, and Part I of the Schedule to, the Statute Law Revision Act 1888.)The Scottish Claim of Right Act 1689 says that the monarch cannot "exercise the regall power untill he or she swear the Coronation Oath."

Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg

The Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg (German: Kurfürstentum Braunschweig-Lüneburg) was an Electorate of the Holy Roman Empire, located in northwestern Germany. It was colloquially known as the Electorate of Hanover (German: Kurfürstentum Hannover or simply German: Kurhannover), after its capital city of Hanover. For most of its existence, the electorate was ruled in personal union with Great Britain.

The Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg had been split in 1269 between different branches of the House of Welf. The Principality of Calenberg, ruled by a cadet branch of the family, emerged as the largest and most powerful of the Brunswick-Lüneburg states. In 1695, the Holy Roman Emperor elevated the Prince of Calenberg to the College of Electors, creating the new Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg. The fortunes of the Electorate were tied to those of Great Britain by the Act of Settlement 1701 and Act of Union 1707, which settled the succession to the British throne on Queen Anne's nearest Protestant relative, the Electress Sophia of Hanover, and her descendants.

The Prince-Elector of Hanover became King of Great Britain in 1714. As a consequence, a reluctant Britain was forced time and again to defend the King's German possessions. However, Hanover remained a separately ruled territory with its own governmental bodies, and the country had to sign a treaty with Great Britain whenever Hanoverian troops fought on the British side of a war. Merged into the Napoleonic Kingdom of Westphalia in 1807, it was re-established as the Kingdom of Hanover in 1814, and the personal union with the British crown lasted until 1837.

Great Peace of Montreal

The Great Peace of Montreal (French: La Grande paix de Montréal) was a peace treaty between New France and 39 First Nations of North America. It was signed on August 4, 1701, by Louis-Hector de Callière, governor of New France, and 13 hundred representatives of 39 aboriginal nations.The French, allied to the Hurons and the Algonquians, provided 16 years of peaceful relations and trade before war started again. Present for the diplomatic event were the various peoples; part of the Iroquois confederacy, the Huron peoples, and the Algonquian peoples.This has sometimes been called the Grand Settlement of 1701, not to be confused with the unrelated Act of Settlement 1701 in England.

Heirs of the body

In English law, heirs of the body is the principle that certain types of property pass to a descendant of the original holder, recipient or grantee according to a fixed order of kinship. Upon the death of the grantee, a designated inheritance such as a parcel of land, a peerage, or a monarchy, passes automatically to that living, legitimate, natural descendant of the grantee who is most senior in descent according to primogeniture, males being preferred, however, over their sisters regardless of relative age; and thereafter the property continues to pass to subsequent descendants of the grantee, according to the same formula, upon the death of each subsequent heir.

Baronies created by writ of summons to Parliament usually descend to heirs of the body of the grantee, and may thus be inherited by females. By the terms of the Act of Settlement 1701 and the Acts of Union 1707, the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland descends to heirs of the body of the Electress Sophia of Hanover who are not Catholics or married to Catholics, subject to subsequent modification by Parliament (e.g. His Majesty's Declaration of Abdication Act 1936 and the Succession to the Crown Act 2013).

In property law, a conveyance by the owner O "To A and heirs of the body", without more, creates a fee tail for the grantee (A) with a reversion in the grantor (O) should the natural, lawful descendants of the grantee all die out. Each person who inherits according to this formula is considered an heir at law of the grantee. Since the inheritance may not pass to someone who is not a natural, lawful descendant of the grantee, the heir is necessarily also "of the body" of the grantee. Collateral kin, who share some or all of the grantee's ancestry, but do not directly descend from the grantee, may not inherit. When there are no more heirs of the body, the terms of the original grant are expired, and the property becomes extinct (e.g. peerage), or some other criterion for allocating the property to a new possessor must be applied. If the original grant stipulated an alternative formula for succession upon exhaustion of heirs, that formula is immediately applicable. Thus, if a peerage is granted to "heirs of the body of John Smith, failing which, to heirs general", the title would pass to a descendant of John Smith's sibling when all of John Smith's descendants die out.

Thus property settled upon someone and the heirs of their body—whether male, female, or generally—will pass to children, grandchildren and so on, but not to nephews of the grantee, his or her sisters, uncles and their descendants. Nor will a limitation in a grant to someone's "heirs" carry the property to collateral heirs in England, since the law presumes that "heirs of the body" are meant though a grant to the grantee and his heirs male will.

There are other kinds of formulae for inheritance than heirs of the body, such as heirs male, heirs of the line, heirs portioners, heirs general, etc.

House of Stuart

The House of Stuart, originally Stewart, was a European royal house of Scotland with Breton origin. They had held the office of High Steward of Scotland since Walter FitzAlan in around 1150. The royal Stewart line was founded by Robert II whose descendants were kings and queens of Scotland from 1371 until the union with England in 1707. Mary, Queen of Scots was brought up in France where she adopted the French spelling of the name Stuart.

In 1503, James IV married Margaret Tudor, thus linking the royal houses of Scotland and England. Elizabeth I of England died without issue in 1603, and James IV's great grandson James VI of Scotland succeed the thrones of England and Ireland as James I in the Union of the Crowns. The Stuarts were monarchs of the British Isles and its growing empire until the death of Queen Anne in 1714, except for the period of the Commonwealth between 1649 and 1660.In total, nine Stewart/Stuart monarchs ruled Scotland alone from 1371 until 1603. The last ruler of Scotland alone was James VI, who became the first dual monarch of England and Scotland in 1603. Two Stuart queens ruled the isles following the Glorious Revolution in 1688: Mary II and Anne. Both were the Protestant daughters of James VII and II by his first wife Anne Hyde and the great-grandchildren of James VI and I. Their father had converted to Catholicism and his new wife gave birth to a son in 1688, who was brought up a Roman Catholic and preceded his half-sisters; so James was deposed by Parliament in 1689, in favour of his daughters. But neither had any children who survived to adulthood, so the crown passed to the House of Hanover on the death of Queen Anne in 1714 under the terms of the Act of Settlement 1701 and the Act of Security 1704.

Jacobite line of succession to the English and Scottish thrones in 1714

The following is the Jacobite line of succession to the English and Scottish thrones as of the death of Anne, Queen of Great Britain, on 1 August 1714. It reflects the laws current in England and Scotland immediately before the Act of Settlement 1701, which disqualified Catholics from the throne.

James Anderson (lawyer)

James Anderson (5 August 1662 – 3 April 1728), Scottish antiquary and historian, was born at Edinburgh. His father was Patrick Anderson of Walston, a church minister, who was for some time imprisoned on the Bass Rock on the Firth of Forth in Haddingtonshire.He was educated for the law, and became a writer to the signet (Scottish solicitor or attorney) in 1691. His profession gave him the opportunity of gratifying his taste for the study of ancient documents; and just before the Act of Union 1707 the Parliament of Scotland commissioned him to prepare for publication what remained of the public records of the Kingdom of Scotland, and in their last session voted a sum of £1940 pound Scots to defray his expenses.At this work he laboured for several years with great judgment and perseverance; but it was not completed at his death in 1728. The book was published posthumously in 1739, edited by Thomas Ruddiman, under the title Selectus Diplomatum et Numismatum Scotiae Thesaurus. Ruddiman also produced a translation into Scots. The preparation of this great national work involved the author in considerable pecuniary loss; and soon after his death, the numerous plates, engraved by John Sturt, were sold for £530. These plates are now lost, and the book has become exceedingly scarce.

Anderson was appointed in 1715 Postmaster General for Scotland, as some compensation for his labours; but in the political struggles of 1717 he was deprived of this office, and never again obtained any reward for his services.

He published, during the controversy about whether Scotland was bound by the Act of Settlement 1701 or not, An Historical Essay showing that the Crown and Kingdom of Scotland is Imperial and Independent (Edinburgh, 1705), and later Collections relating to the History of Mary Queen of Scotland (in 4 vols, Edin., 1727–1728), both of which were later used extensively by his great-nephew, the historian William Robertson.

Katharine, Duchess of Kent

Katharine, Duchess of Kent, (born Katharine Lucy Mary Worsley; 22 February 1933) is a member of the British royal family. Her husband, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, is a first cousin of Queen Elizabeth II.

The Duchess of Kent gained attention for her conversion to Catholicism in 1994, the first member of the royal family to convert publicly since the passing of the Act of Settlement 1701. The Duchess of Kent is strongly associated with the world of music and has performed as a member of several choirs.

Princess Sophia's Precedence Act 1711

The Princess Sophia's Precedence Act 1711 (10 Ann c 8) is an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain.

It reiterated the Act of Settlement 1701, that the line of succession to the British throne, in the absence of any children of Queen Anne, passed directly to Electress Sophia of Hanover and "the heirs of her body being Protestants". As such, Sophia was heir presumptive, followed by her children.

This being so, it provided that the formal order of precedence be modified to reflect this; Sophia was given precedence after Queen Anne, followed by her son George; any other Protestant heirs of Sophia were to take precedence before the Archbishop of Canterbury, the great officers of state and the nobility, effectively ranking them with the royal family.

This Act was wholly in force in Great Britain at the end of 2010.

Sophia Naturalization Act 1705

The Act for the Naturalization of the Most Excellent Princess Sophia, Electress and Duchess Dowager of Hanover, and the Issue of her Body was an Act of the Parliament of England (4 & 5 Ann. c. 16.) in 1705. It followed the Act of Settlement 1701 whereby Dowager Electress Sophia of Hanover and her Protestant descendants were declared to be in the line of succession to the throne (her son George I later became king).

Sophia, a granddaughter of James VI of Scotland and I of England, was not considered to be an Englishwoman as she had not been born in England. This Act naturalized her and "the issue of her body", as English subjects, providing that they were not a Catholic. Any person born to a descendant of Sophia could also claim to be the "issue of her body".

This was first tested between 1955 and 1957 when Prince Ernest Augustus of Hanover successfully claimed British nationality on this basis after considerable litigation. See the thorough discussion by A. Lyon at Statute Law Review 20:2 (1999) 174-84. In 1947 Prince Frederick of Prussia also succeeded in his claim.

The Act was repealed by section 34 of, and Part II of Schedule 4 to, the British Nationality Act 1948. However, any non-Catholic descendant of the Electress who had already been born when the repealing statute was enacted had already automatically acquired the status of a British subject, and so there are still people alive today who can claim British nationality under the Sophia Naturalization Act. That was the case of Ernest Augustus himself, who was only recognized by the courts as a British subject in 1957, years after the repeal of the Sophia Naturalization Act; because he was born and was a Protestant when the Act was still in force, the courts recognized that by that fact he had already acquired citizenship, so that the repeal of the statute did not affect his status.

Also Alexander, Crown Prince of Yugoslavia was given British citizenship using the Sophia Naturalization Act.

However, in the present time, most people concerned who would claim citizenship would basically only reach the status of British Overseas citizen.

Sophia of Hanover

Sophia of Hanover (born Sophia of the Palatinate; 14 October 1630 – 8 June 1714) was the Electress of Hanover from 1692 to 1698. As a granddaughter of James I, she became heir presumptive to the crowns of the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Ireland under the Act of Settlement 1701. After the Acts of Union 1707, she became heir presumptive to the unified throne of the Kingdom of Great Britain. She died less than two months before she would have become queen succeeding her first cousin once removed, Queen Anne, and her claim to the throne passed on to her eldest son, George Louis, Elector of Hanover, who ascended as George I on 1 August 1714 (Old Style).

Born to Frederick V of the Palatinate, a member of the House of Wittelsbach, and Elizabeth Stuart, in 1630, Sophia grew up in the Dutch Republic, where her family had sought refuge after the sequestration of their Electorate during the Thirty Years' War. Sophia's brother Charles Louis was restored to the Lower Palatinate as part of the Peace of Westphalia. Sophia married Ernest Augustus of Brunswick-Lüneburg in 1658. Despite his jealous temper and frequent absences, Sophia loved him, and bore him seven children who survived to adulthood. Initially a landless cadet, Ernest Augustus succeeded in having the House of Hanover raised to electoral dignity in 1692. Therefore, Sophia became Electress of Hanover, the title by which she is best remembered. A patron of the arts, Sophia commissioned the palace and gardens of Herrenhausen and sponsored philosophers, such as Gottfried Leibniz and John Toland.

Treason Act 1702

The Treason Act 1702 (1 Anne Stat. 2 c. 21) is an Act of the Parliament of England, passed to enforce the line of succession to the English throne (today the British throne), previously established by the Bill of Rights 1689 and the Act of Settlement 1701.

The Act makes it treason to "endeavour to deprive or hinder any person who shall be the next in succession to the crown for the time being ... from succeeding after the decease of her Majesty (whom God long preserve) to the imperial crown of this realm and the dominions and territories thereunto belonging".

Originally a capital offence, the penalty was reduced in 1998 to life imprisonment.

Although the Act was passed by the English Parliament, it was later extended to Scotland by the Treason Act 1708, following the Union of the two kingdoms in the previous year. The Parliament of Ireland passed a law to the same effect in 1703, the Treason Act (Ireland) 1703 (c.5). This is still in force in Northern Ireland.


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