Given my previous posts on the subject of the monarchy, I suspect my regular reader would be surprised if I wasn't to offer my two penn'orth on this story, which has been widely reported in today's papers, on television and, of course, across the internet.
To come to the point quickly, I wholeheartedly agree with the proposal that our future monarchs should be the eldest child of his or her predecessor, irrespective of their gender; and I would regard any suggestion that the status quo, (where the eldest son inherits, regardless of his possibly having an elder sister or sisters), should be maintained as being offensive to women in general and not least to our present Queen, who has performed the role in an exemplary fashion for the last fifty-seven years.
Indeed, her present majesty aside, haven't some of our best, or at least best known monarchs been women?
Who can argue that Elizabeth I was not at least as good a monarch as her father Henry VIII, or that he is better known to both posterity and history than she is? And yes, there have been bad queens - Elizabeth's elder sister Mary (known to history as 'Bloody' Mary, as a result of her enthusiasm for burning protestants to death) for one - but then again, Kings John, Charles I, his son James II (and VII) and George IV, were hardly star turns, either.
So far, then, so good.
I would not, however, make any such change in the line of succession retrospective, because there is no need to do so. Barring an unforseen disaster, we know that our next and next-but-one monarchs will be men, in the form of Prince Charles and Prince William respectively, so why bother shifting Princess Anne up the pecking order, when - barring that cataclysm - she is as unlikely to ascend the Throne as either of her younger brothers, or their children?
Moving on, some have argued that there is little point in making this change now, because we have bigger fish to fry in the shape of the gathering financial storm and further, that the reason this story has emerged now is simply that The Idiot is keen to keep coverage of the economic situation off the front pages. I have a degree of sympathy with both those propositions, but I would like to see the 'rule' changed as soon as it can reasonably be done, irrespective of the fact that the male line is secured for the next two generations.
Simply this. It is entirely possible, indeed probable, that Prince William will marry and have children within the next five years. I would like to see the change brought in before those children are born, because by doing so, everyone will know that irrespetive of their gender, his eldest child will become the heir apparent to the crown; a position which would avoid our going through the confusing and unsatisfactory procedure the Swedes did in 1980, when the then one-year-old Crown Prince Carl Philip was dislodged from the succession by his elder sister, the then three-year-old Princess Victoria, by a change in Swedish law.
Much better, in my view, to have the situation resolved before any of William's children are born, then everybody - including the Royal Family - knows exactly where the eldest child stands, irrespective of the gender of any subsequent children.
Turning to the position that the Monarchy finds itself in vis-a-vis the Roman Cathlic Church, the situation is a little trickier.
I agree that it seems unsustainable that anyone in the line of succession to the Throne who chose to marry a Catholic would lose his or her right to accede, when such a prohibtion does not apply to followers of any other religion, whether it be Islam, Hinduism, Judaism or Jedi Knight.
The problem, if indeed it is one in these increasingly secular times, is that the Monarch is also ex officio the Supreme Governor of the Church of England and as such, it is inconceivable that an individual who was a practising member of another relgion (or version of it in this case) could lead a second one of which he or she was not a practising member.
The upshot would be the disestablishment of the Church of England, a possibility recently described by that weird druid currently masquerading as the Archbishop of Canterbury, as 'not being the end of the world'. Then again, with his churches as empty as a hermit's address book and half his clergy unable to decide whether they are Arthur or Martha, I don't suppose disestablishment would be more than a hiccup on the CoE's catastrophic journey into irrelevant oblivion.
Then again, if Prince William were to marry his long-term girlfriend, Kate Middleton, herself a member of the Church of England, any urgency in having to address what would then be a theoretical problem in respect of the person of the monarch himself would be removed for at least the next fifty years.
Problem solved, then...