A MOVE to allow female members of the Royal Family to be given equality with men in the rules of succession has been labelled “an anachronism”.
The decision to approve historic constitutional changes was taken by Commonwealth leaders.
But politics expert Pete Woodcock, of the University of Huddersfield, is convinced it is more of a move to show the monarchy in a modern light.
The move was agreed unanimously by the 16 nations of which Queen Elizabeth II is monarch.
The changes mean that if the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s first child is a girl, she will take precedence over any younger brothers in the order of succession.
The 16 “realms”, including the UK, Canada and Australia, also agreed to scrap outdated laws which ban the spouse of a Roman Catholic from taking the throne.
The changes were announced by Prime Minister David Cameron at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, attended by the Queen, in Perth, Australia.
Mr Cameron said the historic rules were “at odds with the modern countries that we have become”.
Announcing the proposed changes, he said: “Put simply, if the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were to have a little girl, that girl would one day be our queen.”
But Dr Woodcock, who admits he has no love for the monarchy system, insisted: “It shows how the good the House of Windsor is at moving with the times, trying to be modern.
“We should not regard this decision as a momentous change in history or a great move for gender equality. This is still an anachronistic system and a change like this makes it only slightly less so.
“I agree that the notion of a woman being inferior to a man is wrong after 300 years but it still relies on a person being able to inherit enormous power through an accident of birth.
“I think the Queen’s decision to involve the Commonwealth as a whole is to be applauded and her work within that system is one of her greatest strengths.”
The pressure for change became more urgent following the marriage of Prince William and Catherine Middleton in April, which raised the prospect of new additions to the line of succession in the near future.
Putting future princesses on an equal footing with their brothers will require amendments to a raft of historic legislation, including the 1701 Act of Settlement and 1689 Bill of Rights, as well as laws in a number of the Queen’s other realms including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Jamaica and Antigua.