As Britain celebrates the diamond jubilee of Queen Elizabeth's 1952 ascension to the throne, it can also assess her legacy in balancing the monarch's duty as 'supreme governor' of the Church of England with being head of state.
Kate Middleton could be the first British royal in centuries to see an eldest daughter become Queen instead of a younger brother. Under the century-old tradition of male primogeniture, if the eldest child was a girl she would only become queen if none of her younger siblings were boys. Now, with the assent of 16 countries in the Commonwealth, girls will be just as eligible as their brothers, meaning the eldest child will always ascend to the throne. The change in law, which is expected to soon be formalized in the British parliament, also lifts a ban on Catholic heirs – a move British Prime Minister David Cameron and Catholic leaders have praised. Here are five would-be queens who were leap-frogged by their brothers for the throne:
British royal succession rules set in 1700 favored sons over daughters. Commonwealth leaders Friday agreed to drop the royal gender discrimination.
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And here you thought your wedding was a bit on the stressful side. At least you're not Kate Middleton, whose every step – especially any misstep – will be broadcast live to the world. It won't get any easier if she ever becomes the consort of the king. On the bright side, she's marrying a handsome and energetic young man. Then again, Henry VIII's first queen did the exact same thing. As for the five that followed her, well, as the old rhyme puts it: "Divorced, beheaded, died. Divorced, beheaded, survived." As she figures out her strategy to keep her position (and her man), "Waity Katie" might be wise to sit back and read these instructive books about Henry VIII's queens. This time around, let's hope only the lessons roll, with everyone's heads staying right where they belong.
Our fascination with the romance between Prince William and Kate Middleton is nothing new. The world has always loved a royal love story and a stack of books from over the ages proves that to be true. Here are 10 of the most interesting.