Love may force Queen's grandson to give up throne

If he marries his Canadian Catholic fiancee, Queen Elizabeth II's grandson Peter Phillips may be disqualified from succession to the British Crown by a law which bars the monarch and heirs to the throne from marrying a Catholic.

The Times Online reports that Mr Phillips, who is the son of the Princess Royal and her first husband Captain Mark Philips, is tenth in line to the throne but his marriage could cost him his birthright because his fiancee, Autumn Kelly, is a Catholic.

The paper quotes The Tablet as revealing that Miss Kelly, the daughter of Brian and Kathleen "Kitty" Kelly, was baptised on 18 June 1978 at St John Fisher Parish church in Pointe-Claire, a suburb of Montreal in Quebec.

Although it is not clear whether she is still a practising Catholic, unless she agrees to renounce her religion the union will fall foul of the 1701 Act of Settlement, which bars the monarch or heirs to the throne from marrying a Catholic.

The Act discriminates uniquely against Catholics. Although a person must be in communion with the Church of England to succeed to the throne, there is nothing in the Act which would prevent a monarch or their heirs from marrying a Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim or Jewish person.

Mr Phillips would be the second Royal placed in this dilemma by the Act, which has for centuries been a cause of anguish to Catholics.

Prince Michael of Kent relinquished his place in the succession when he married a Catholic. He and Princess Michael raised their two children as Anglicans to ensure the same fate did not befall them.

There is growing anger in Catholic circles that Britain's increasingly trenchant anti-discrimination laws do not extend to their denomination.

Cardinal Keith O'Brien, Catholic Archbishop of Edinburgh, told The Tablet the Act was "scandalous" and said it was wrong for Mr Phillips to have to do this.

The engagement was announced last week but no date has yet been set for the marriage.

Cardinal O'Brien said he had every sympathy for Mr Phillips, who is as low-profile as it is possible for a member of Britain's Royal family to be, and who works for the Royal Bank of Scotland. He also sympathised with Miss Kelly.

"Whether a person be fortieth or second in line to the throne, it is wrong that they be deprived of that right because they have fallen in love and chosen to marry a Roman Catholic," he told The Tablet.

Queen's grandson could lose birthright to throne (Times Online, 2/8/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Peter Phillips (Wikipedia)
Peter Phillips (English Monarchs)
British monarchy (Wikipedia)

British Lib Dems call for end to Catholic monarch ban (CathNews, 28/5/07)
Time we can have a Catholic monarch, says new Ireland Anglican primate (CathNews, 19/1/07)
Royal Family member to wed at Vatican (CathNews, 1/11/07)
Catholic congratulations for Queen on 80th birthday (CathNews, 26/4/06)
British Cardinal makes history preaching to Queen (CathNews, 14/1/02)
Call for Queen to lose title as head of Church (CathNews, 16/6/03)

3 Aug 2007