By Jonathan Isaby
As Royal Wedding fever increases by the day, the Daily Telegraph splashes this morning on the story that Nick Clegg is "actively pursuing" a plan to alter the law relating to Royal succession which currently gives a Monarch's younger son precedence over an elder daughter.
At present, the rules of male primogeniture apply so that a Monarch can give birth to numerous daughters, but their first son to be born automatically leapfrogs the line of succession.
This is an historical anomaly and needlessly discriminatory towards women and I fully favour changing the law on the matter.
Although this would obviously change the current line of succession to bring the Princess Royal into fourth place (from tenth), this is an issue which is realistically only going to become relevant if WiIliam and Catherine's first-born is a daughter.
And I would venture that it is far better to change the rules now before they have children than when the potential individuals concerned have arrived on this earth.
The Telegraph points out that the biggest stumbling block to reform would appear to be the fact that since the British Monarch is the Head of State of a further fifteen countries (Antigua & Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent & the Grenadines, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu), the law would therefore need to be changed in every single one of these countries:
"The Prime Minister is said to believe that to achieve this would be complex and time-consuming at a time when the Government’s full attention should be on tackling the deficit and enacting the Coalition agenda."
Whilst this should clearly not be the Government's biggest priority, I can't see why the UK should not take a lead and pass a one-line law making the change, thereby putting the ball into the court of those other nations to make the necessary changes themselves.
In any case, this is not going to become a live issue until the death of William – in about seventy years' time if he inherits his great-grandmother's longevity.
This would therefore give those other countries plenty of time to make the necessary changes and avoid what I'm presuming would be the absurd anomaly of a sister and brother reigning over different parts of the realm – if one of more of those countries did not then change the law and William and Catherine's first-born was indeed a daughter and they subsequently had a son..
Or perhaps some constitutional lawyer reading will tell me that my Saturday afternoon ramblings are far too simplistic and explain the complicated process actually involved…