‘Nations stumble upon establishments, which are indeed the result of human action,
but not the execution of any human design.’
Adam Ferguson, An Essay on the History of Civil Society (1767)

04 May 2011

Tradition Is the Anchor of Royal Succession

The Royal Wedding last week between Prince William and Kate Middleton has led to renewed interest in the line of succession, which has hitherto followed the example of primogeniture, with the Crown passed onto the eldest son. This practice has been criticised as antiquated and sexist; reforms have been proposed whereby the first-born becomes first-in-line, whether the child is male or female.

Yet as innocuous as this change in the royal succession may appear, there are inherent dangers. Tradition is one of the Crown’s greatest assets, and this reform strikes at the heart of Britain’s (and the Royal Commonwealth’s) constitutional strength: the stability which the Crown imparts to political life which, in turn, is a key raison d’ĂȘtre for the monarchy itself.

In an essay written for the independent British think-tank ResPublica, I examine some of the ramifications and unintended consequences to reform of the royal succession and urge caution before any such innovations are undertaken — with apropos quotations from Edmund Burke and Benjamin Disraeli.

Thanks to Phillip Blond and Adam Schoenborn for allowing me an opportunity to express opinions that run counter to the prevailing zeitgeist, but which I believe deserve a hearing before reforms to the royal succession are implemented.

Click here for my full argument.