Made in Preston, the website about Preston, Lancashire

Succession to the Crown Bill

Ben Wallace MP (Wyre and Preston North) spoke during the Parliamentary debate about the effects of the bill on the succession of the Duchy of Lancaster. The following are parts of his contribution to the debate which contains a number of interesting points of history, although its accuracy isn't confirmed.

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Office 2:13 pm 22nd January 2013

Nick Clegg opened the debate.

"........................... The Bill does three specific things.

First, it ends the system of male-preference primogeniture so that, in the royal succession, older sisters will no longer be overtaken by their younger brothers.

Secondly, it removes the law that says that anyone who marries a Roman Catholic automatically loses their place in the line, a legal barrier that applies to Catholics and only Catholics—no other faith.

Thirdly, it replaces theRoyal Marriages Act 1772.

Under the 1772 Act, any descendent of George II must seek the reigning monarch’s consent before marrying, without which their marriage is void. That law, passed 240 years ago, is clearly now unworkable. George II’s descendants number in their hundreds. Many will be unaware of that arcane requirement and many will have only a tenuous link to the royal family.

The Bill proposes that the monarch need consent only to the marriages of the first six individuals in the line of succession, without which consent they would lose their place.


Ben Wallace (Wyre and Preston North, Conservative)

As the Member of Parliament for Wyre and Preston North, I represent huge tracts of Duchy of Lancaster land. 

Henry IV set up the Lancastrian inheritance separately from the Crown and its entities to follow through the male heirs, except where the monarch was a female. Under that separate arrangement for passing on the private possessions of the Duke of Lancaster, inheritance currently remains with the male heir where a male is a child of a monarch.

Therefore, if the Queen were to have both a boy and a girl, would we not be in danger of splitting an inheritance so that the changes ensured that the female inherited the position of monarch but the title of Duke of Lancaster went to the son?


Ben Wallace (Wyre and Preston North, Conservative)

I am not sure that my right hon. Friend understands. This measure, without such clarity, will disinherit the monarch of the lands that the monarch holds in the title of Duke of Lancaster, given that that is a separate division from the Crown.



Ben Wallace (Wyre and Preston North, Conservative)

I stand to be corrected, but my understanding is that there is a difference between the Duchy of Lancaster and the Duchy of Cornwall.

My understanding is that the latter comes into existence with the heir to the throne and effectively dissolves when the monarch dies. The Duchy of Lancaster goes back far longer. As far as we can see, it is a separate title and therefore cannot be excluded without excluding the assets that go with it (There was disagreement about this statement about Cornwall).

I do not expect the Minister to have the 1485 charter at her disposal, or that anyone will to be able to produce the answer instantly. I am sure it will take far greater legal brains to produce a clear, concise solution. There might be no problem at all: the charter may make it clear that it does not matter whether the heir is male or female, dealing only with definition of “sovereign”. That may be the answer, but we need clarity.

As ever, changes such as this are easier said than done. That shows how far back our historical ties go. For 700 years the Duchy of Lancaster has owned some of the land in my constituency. Some of my constituents are tenants of the Duchy of Lancaster and rely for their livelihoods on such things being made clear. They, like Her Majesty the Queen and her assets, deserve that clarity.


Ben Wallace (Wyre and Preston North, Conservative)

My hon. Friend’s point is well made, but the position is unclear. The Government want to get this right, so hopefully they will furnish the House with the clarity I seek.




23 January, 2013 Contact the site author