Thursday, 24 January 2013

Royal succession

Constitutional discussions always raise some historical sidelights. This interchange came about in the debate on the Succession to the Crown Bill last Tuesday:

Wayne David: Let me refer to an issue that is, in some ways, particular to the people of Wales: the title of Princess of Wales. Since 1301 the eldest male heir has usually been invested with the title of Prince of Wales, and as I understand, that position is bestowed at the discretion of the monarch. Edward II did not invest his eldest son, the future Edward III, with the title, but investiture later became custom and practice. The position confers no automatic rights or responsibilities, but it follows that if there is to be no gender discrimination in the royal succession, consideration ought to be given to the title of Princess of Wales being given to a female heir apparent.

Paul Flynn: My hon. Friend is being extremely generous in giving way. He will recall from history that the title of Prince of Wales was the result of a promise that the people of Wales would have a King who could not speak a word of English. He could not speak a word of any language, including a word of Welsh. Is it sensible, with the pride of Wales at heart, to continue to perpetuate that royal confidence trick?

Wayne David: My reading of history is that when Llywelyn was defeated by Edward I, a promise was indeed made. The King of England at that time could not, of course, speak Welsh, but he could not speak English either. He spoke Norman French. It is important to make that point when considering such issues because it is easy for some people to translate modern ideas of nationality into mediaeval situations. It is important that the historical reality of the United Kingdom is recognised, and there is a specific niche for Wales with regard to the Prince of Wales, and hopefully, in future, for the Princess of Wales. If it were appropriate to have a Princess of Wales I hope that people in Wales would welcome such a development, and I ask the Minister whether she would welcome such a move.

Later, Nicholas Soames contributed:
"Consequent to the Bill—this is why my hon. Friend the Member for North East Somerset [Jacob Rees-Mogg] was completely right to ask for the House to have more time to deal with the matter—a large number of Acts will require the House’s attention and amendment, including the Bill of Rights 1689; the Act of Settlement 1701; the Union with Scotland Act 1706; the Coronation Oath Act 1688; Princess Sophia’s Precedence Act 1711; the Royal Marriages Act 1772; the Union with Ireland Act 1800; the Accession Declaration Act 1910; and the Regency Act 1937. Those are not things to be consigned to the dustbin of history at the flick of a pen;"

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