British officials discuss succession to the British Throne

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, MAY 10TH 2013 (CUOPM) – The Succession to the Crown Act 2013 which was passed by both the House of Commons and the House of Lords in the United Kingdom was the subject of discussion in Basseterre.

St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas held talks with a four man British team, led by the Rt. Hon. Lord Wallace of Tankerness QC, who has been charged with exploring the implementation of the agreement in the Houses of Parliament and the 16 Realms.

Prime Minister Douglas, who was supported by Attorney General, the Hon. Jason Hamilton,; Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, the Hon. Patrice Nisbett and Cabinet Secretary, Mr. Joseph Edmeade, noted that the Agreement was made by Commonwealth Heads of Government during the meeting in Perth, Australia.

(Left to right) – St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas; Lord Wallace; Mr. Phil Culligan; Mr. David Willis; Mr. Nicholas Hodgson; Mr. Joseph Edmeade; Hon. Patrice Nisbett and Hon. Jason Hamilton.

Lord Wallace, Advocate General for Scotland, was supported by Deputy High Commissioner to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Mr. Phil Culligan; Head of the Constitutional Reform Team, Cabinet Office, Mr. David Willis and Government Lawyer, Cabinet Office, Mr. Nicholas Hodgson.

During the talks, the way forward was discussed including either a short piece of legislation or an amendment to the Interpretation Act.

Lord Wallace also visited other Commonwealth countries in the Caribbean including Grenada, Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth is the present Sovereign and her heir apparent is her eldest son, Charles, Prince of Wales. Next in line is Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, the Prince of Wales’s eldest son.

The first four individuals in the line of succession who are twenty-one years or older, along with the Sovereign’s consort, may be appointed Counsellors of State. Counsellors of State perform some of the Sovereign’s duties whilst he or she is abroad or temporarily incapacitated. Otherwise, individuals in the line of succession need not have specific legal or official duties (though members of the royal family often do).

The monarch of the United Kingdom is also the monarch of 15 other sovereign states including St. Kitts and Nevis, within the Commonwealth of Nations. By convention iterated in the preamble to the Statute of Westminster 1931, the line of succession cannot be altered without the agreement of all 16 Commonwealth realms.

At the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2011, it was announced that the 16 heads of government had agreed unanimously that laws governing the succession would be changed, so that males would no longer take precedence in the order of succession over their older sisters.

This change will not, however, apply retroactively to people born before October 2011. It was also agreed that the ban on the monarch being married to a Roman Catholic would be lifted, although the monarch would still need to be in communion with the Church of England.

Individual realms will need to enact legislation before the succession changes take effect. In the UK, the Succession to the Crown Act 2013 received royal assent on 25 April 2013, having been passed by both Houses of Parliament.

There are 15 Commonwealth Realms in addition to the United Kingdom: Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Papua New Guinea, St. Christopher and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Tuvalu, Barbados, Grenada, Solomon Islands, St. Lucia and The Bahamas.

St Christopher and Nevis, often known as St. Kitts and Nevis, has a constitutional monarchy with The Queen as Sovereign.

As a constitutional monarch, The Queen, by convention, is not involved in the day-to-day business of St. Christopher and Nevis’s Government, but she continues to play important ceremonial and symbolic roles.

The Queen’s relationship to St. Christopher and Nevis is unique. In all her duties, she speaks and acts as Queen of St. Christopher and Nevis, and not as Queen of the United Kingdom.

The Queen’s Royal style and title in St Christopher and Nevis is Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of St. Christopher and Nevis and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth.

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