Leaders of the 16 countries that recognize the British monarch as their head of state agreed Friday that a firstborn daughter ought to be able to ascend the throne even if she has younger brothers. The proposed change to the rules of royal succession that have prevailed for centuries will now make its way through the legal process of all 16 countries, among them Australia, Canada and a number of small island nations (Britain included).
The legislation would apply to all heirs of Prince Charles, the (firstborn) son of the reigning Queen Elizabeth II and the current heir to the throne. In effect, the change would begin with the children of Charles' son William, second in line to the throne, who married Middleton, his college sweetheart and a commoner, in April.
The leaders of the 16 countries also agreed that an embarrassing rule forbidding a monarch or heir to marry a Catholic ought to be scrapped.