The centuries-old rule that recognizes male precedence in who takes the throne of the British monarchy has been overturned. Primogenture in royal terms states that the firstborn son will take the crown and after many years that is no longer true. The current rules date back to the late 1600s and were put in place in part to make sure that anyone in line to the throne married a Protestant. Sixteen nations that have Queen Elizabeth as their monarchy, including the U.K., Australia, and Canada, voted unanimously to overturn the rule, which also bans the spouse of a Roman Catholic from taking the crown. Only Catholics are barred, though. An heir can still marry someone of another religion or even an atheist. British Prime Minister David Cameron announced the change stating that the current rule was at odds with modernity. The throne is still reserved for Protestants, though.
The current line of succession will not be impacted by the overturning. Prince Charles and his son Prince William are still the heirs. The rule, however, will impact Kate Middleton and Prince William's future children. If their firstborn is a girl, she will automatically enter the line to the throne without having to go behind a younger brother, as the rules previously stated. The change comes after the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II's succession to the throne. Queen Elizabeth was strongly supportive of the change even though the rules go back almost 1,000 years. She supports the modernization of the British monarchy as a whole. Kate and William's nuptials this past spring seem to have brought the issue into focus, instigating the change. A group will soon be coordinated to set up legislation for the new rule.