Being born into a royal family isn’t as awesome as it might seem. For one thing, most royals lives are predetermined before they are even born. That said, the British royal family is trying to change that — or, at the very least, make things better for future generations.
Up until 2015, the royal family followed strict, outdated laws set by former monarchs that were discriminatory and unfair to certain members of the family. But, the queen (and Parliament) finally put her foot down with the Succession to the Crown Act 2013.
Ahead, we share why the act is one of the best changes the royal family has seen in centuries, including the one thing it protects Princess Charlotte against now that she has a younger brother (page 5), why she’s the only one who benefits from it right now (page 6), and the real reason the royal family agreed to these once uncanny changes (page 7).
1. The Succession to the Crown Act 2013
It went into effect in 2015. | Chris J Ratcliffe/AFP/Getty Images
- The Succession to the Crown Act 2013 called for a few drastic changes.
In an effort to make some long overdue changes to the royal family’s rule book, the Succession to the Crown Act was published on December 13, 2012, received the queen’s approval on April 25, 2013, and went into effect on March 26, 2015.
The act called for a few drastic changes — including one that would change Princess Charlotte’s life forever (page 5) — to some instrumental royal family traditions.
Next: The act ended centuries old discrimination against this religion.
2. Marrying Roman Catholics
It used to be against the law. | Warren Allott-WPA Pool/Getty Images
- Marrying a Roman Catholic was against royal law before 2015.
While it is still against the law for a Roman Catholic to succeed the throne, members of the royal family are allowed to marry Roman Catholics under the Succession of the Crown Act. That said, if the children of the couple are raised Roman Catholic, they forfeit their place in line to the throne.
Prior to the act, those who married Roman Catholics were forced to give up their spot in line to the throne.
Next: Can you believe the queen considers anyone who does this dead?
3. Catholic succession
Royals still lose their spot in succession if they convert to Catholicism. | Chrisdorney/iStock/Getty Images
- If a member of royalty converts to Catholic, the queen considers them dead.
One thing that didn’t change was the rules about Catholic succession, which state if any true member of the royal family becomes Catholic (even for a minute!) they are considered dead in terms of succession and lose their spot in line to the throne forever. Talk about a harsh punishment.
Next: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle almost missed this important cut off.
4. The queen’s approval to marry
Prince Harry needed approval. | Irsty Wigglesworth/AFP/Getty Images
- The first six people in line to the throne must receive the queen’s approval to marry.
In addition to royal succession, the act changed marriage rules. Before the Succession to the Crown, members of the royal family would need the sovereign’s approval to marry. Failure to do so resulted in a legal marriage, but forfeit of the crown. The new act replaces the Royal Marriages Act 1772, and now only the first six people in line to the throne need the queen’s approval.
At the time of his engagement Prince Harry was fifth in line to the throne, therefore he needed the queen’s approval to marry Meghan Markle.
Next: The one thing that won’t change for Princess Charlotte now that she has a younger brother.
5. Princess Charlotte will keep her spot in line to the throne
Despite having a younger brother, Princess Charlotte still keeps her spot. | HRH/Getty Images
- The Succession of the Crown Act 2013 allows Princess Charlotte to keep her spot in line to the throne, despite having a younger brother.
Prior to 2013, all royal men had precedence over their older female siblings. However, the Succession of the Crown Act allows Princess Charlotte to keep her spot in line, despite having a younger brother.
Next: Why the law only benefits Princess Charlotte.
6. Not everyone benefits
Princess Charlotte was the first to benefit. | Kensington Royal via Instagram
- The law only applies to those born after October 28, 2011.
The law states that a royal male does not have precedence over an older female sibling. However, at this time, Princess Charlotte is the only one who benefits, as it only applies to those born after October 28, 2011.
With that said, if Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have kids — specifically an older daughter and younger son — it will affect them, too.
Next: The real reason for the act.
7. The act brought the royal family into the 21st century
It helped to modernize the family. | Chris Jackson/Getty Images
- The Succession to the Crown Act 2013 ends centuries old discrimination and gives the royal family a more modern appeal.
With the ending of some centuries-long laws, the Succession to the Crown Act 2013 helped modernize the royal family and bring them into the 21st century. This not only creates a more constitutional monarchy, it makes the royal family — and their rules — more relevant and ends centuries old discrimination against certain religions and genders.
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