Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, began work towards repealing the 1701 Act of Settlement, under which heirs to the throne must renounce their claim on marrying a Roman Catholic, in order to introduce full equality between the faiths. However, the plan to abolish the Act of Settlement was quietly shelved after the Church raised significant objections centring on the British sovereign’s dual role as Supreme Governor.

Church leaders expressed concern that if a future heir to the throne married a Roman Catholic, their children would be required by canon law to be brought up in that faith. This would result in the constitutionally problematic situation whereby the Supreme Governor of the Church of England was a Roman Catholic, and so ultimately answerable to a separate sovereign leader, the Pope, and the Vatican. There is no similar prohibition on the Royal family marrying members of other faiths such as Islam and Judaism, or those who are openly agnostic or atheist.

COMMENT: Unless we remove the role of head of state from the monarchy then a Roman Catholic can never be allowed to be our monarch for the reasons the Church of England states and for the one other very important reason. Our head of state has to sign all acts of parliament before they actually become law. This is, at present, a symbolic act as convention (and the threat of the abolition of the monarchy) dictates that the monarch signs everything. But this is powerful symbolism for the British because it makes the point that politicians are subject to a non-politician. As our monarch is regarded as the person who represents all the citizens of Britain this means that politicians are subject to all of us. It's also, in theory, the last resort for stopping our government from becomming despotic. However, if the monarch was a Roman Catholic and our government passed a law stating that lesbians could have an abortion up to nine months of pregnancy, a Roman Catholic monarch could not sign that act without being excommunicated from their church. For the sake of that hypothetical Roman catholic monarch a Roman catholic should never be put into that position. For the sake of our monarchy, a Roman catholic cannot be allowed to be put into that position because if such a monarch was to refuse to sign such legislation because of her or his faith, then there would be a constitutional crisis that could only end in the abolition of the monarchy.



  1. Or abolish the monarchy.

    I note that many Catholic politicians in the US don’t follow the dictates of the Roman Catholic church much to the dismay of certain bishops.

  2. So abolish the monarch from having to sign laws? Isn’t that the simplest solution?

    Then they would not be the monarch and, for the reasons I stated in the post, that would change who we are. Heck, we’d become even more like the America.

  3. Well I think we should elect our leaders and be able to get rid of them: the monarch was never the people, but only ever ‘married to the people’ (not that the people had the chance to refuse).

    But the logic of your position is that the Church of England has no ethical position that would force the monarch to behave in any manner like it would if a Roman Catholic, that any law signed could make a mockery of any Church belief, doctrine or whatever.

    Not only should the monarchy go, but there should be no established Church.

  4. But seriously…all sarcasm aside…

    Don’t do it, Britain. Hold the line. Henry VIII was right. For a LOT of reasons, even above and beyond those that Jonathan cited here.

  5. The monarch actually doesn’t sign any laws. A ceremony in the House of Lords has a couple of officials cry “La Reine le vult” meaning “The Queen agrees” and that is when the law takes effect. The Queen doesn’t have anything to do with it; it’s done in her name.

    Were the Queen to be Roman Catholic, and a law making test tube fertilisation easier were to be passed, for example, she could plead before the Inquisition that it was signed in her name only and she couldn’t have prevented it even if she wanted to.

    The last monarch to try to veto a law was Queen Anne, and that’s why monarchs now have nothing to do with signing bills into law.

  6. But the logic of your position is that the Church of England has no ethical position that would force the monarch to behave in any manner like it would if a Roman Catholic

    The Church of England has plenty of ethical positions – one being that it advises but does not compel with blackmail.

  7. “Then they would not be the monarch”


    I think of the monarchy as how we can SEE them (behold, the Royal Wedding!). They troop the colors, open Parliament, are seen keeping the upper lip stiff.

    I don’t think of the monarchy (in 2011) for what papers they sign.

    But then I just watched my Head of State read children a picture book, while other kids pushed Easter eggs on the “palace” lawn. So what do I know? [Aw, I saw Bo too! :-)]

  8. So if you do get disestablished and removed from the House of Lords, what will you do? Pout? Write a long letter to the “Guardian” complaining that the poor have lost an important voice?
    There is nothing you could do. It’s like a 90 year-old paraplegic threatening kids to get off his lawn.