Why British Succession Law Would Not Lift Sanction on Catholics Becoming Heirs?

The Edwardian Crown. State crown of the British monarch

BECAUSE it would have sweeping consequences in the line of succession to the British throne and would validate the succession rights by bloodline of Franz, Duke of Bavaria to become British monarch.

This is one interesting part of royal history that's rarely discussed in public but something royal fans need to know for learning purposes.

Let's explain further.

The ancient provisions in the succession law of the British throne were repealed in 2013 and took effect in 2015, altering some provisions in accordance to the 2011 Perth Agreement.

Succession to the Crown Act of 2013 has three main refurbishments: 

1. The absolute primogeniture
, replacing the male-preference primogeniture law. It means that daughters of the sovereign are no longer displaced by younger brothers in the line of succession. The absolute primogeniture law means, the eldest child of the reigning monarch, irrespective of gender will be the heir-apparent.

2. Only the first six in the line of succession will be required to seek permission from the ruling sovereign when marrying. In the previous law, the Royal Marriages Act of 1772, requires all descendants of King George II to ask a marriage approval from the British sovereign, including foreign descendants.

3. Royal family members marrying Catholics are no longer disqualified to succeed. In the previous law (Royal Marriages Act of 1772), any members of the British royal family who married Roman Catholics will be automatically removed from the line of the succession.

A papist monarch is deemed impossible

These changes in the succession law have been praised as timely and in accordance with the call of times, however, there is one ancient provision that was not repealed - royals who are Roman Catholics are still barred from succeeding the British throne.

In layman's term, any royal family members who are papist (in communion with the Vatican) will never have a chance to succeed the throne of the United Kingdom.

This was the main purpose why the Act of Settlement of 1701 was established, to ban royal Catholics from claiming the British throne.

Under this Act, the British throne succession was settled on Princess Sophia of Hanover, the granddaughter of King James I, and to her protestant descendants.

And through this Act, Roman Catholic descendants of her uncle, King Charles I, were effectively barred from the line of succession.

After the last Stuart Monarch, Queen Anne (grand daughter of King Charles I) died without surviving children, the British throne was passed to Princess Sophia's eldest son, Prince George, who would become King George I, the first Hanoverian monarch of Britain.

At that time Prince George was farther from the throne, around 50th line. Ahead of him were the Stuart descendants, but all Roman Catholics.

This Act effectively displaced a Prince of Wales from succeeding the throne, the disinherited younger brother of Queen Anne, James Francis Edward, and Princess Henrietta's (younger daughter of King Charles I) offspring.

The Current Succession Law

Many were disappointed on the decision not to repeal this part of the provision in the Succession to the Crown Act of 2013.

It still did not address the core issue of faith reconciliation in the kingdom and it was even viewed as religion discrimination. 

The sanction was only for Catholics but never with other religion denominations like Lutheran, Methodist, etcetera.

But why the provision singled out Roman Catholics and not other religion? We will explain this topic further at the end of this article.

The decision of the parliament not to repeal this part of the provision is pointed to two reasons:

First, because the British sovereign will automatically become the Supreme Head of the Church of England, which is a protestant church.

Second, it will create a serious repercussion on the succession rights of royal family members from the Hanoverian line.

Should sanction on the Catholic faith be lifted, those in the current line of succession and all the Hanoverian descendants might be possibly displaced and the succession might be restored on the House of Stuart which is ahead in the line of succession than the House of Hanover.

The Queen and Prince Charles 
Descended from the Hanoverian line

This serious repercussion will put a German aristocrat in the British throne, Prince Franz,  Duke of Bavaria.

He is the titular King of Bavaria in Germany and the head of the Royal House of Wittelsbach, the former ruling family of the Kingdom of Bavaria.  

He is the most senior surviving male descendant of King Charles I, and the most senior male member of the House of Stuart, therefore the rightful British heir.

For the Jacobite succession, he is recognized as King Francis II of the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland.

Who is Prince Franz?

He was born on July 14, 1933, the great-grandson of the last Bavarian monarch, King Ludwig III.

The Duke of Bavaria is not married and no children, thus, his heir-presumptive is his younger brother, Prince Max, the father of Princess Sophie, Hereditary Princess of Liechtenstein.

The Duke directly descended from King Charles I of the United Kingdom through his youngest daughter, Princess Henrietta, who married Philippe I, Duke of Orleans.

Prince Franz, Duke of Bavaria descended from the Stuart line

But her descendants, together with those of the Prince of Wales, James Francis Edward, son of King James II, were removed from the line of succession because they were all Roman Catholics.

However, the line of Prince James Francis Edward became extinct when his two sons died without living descendants.

Had Catholics not barred from succeeding the British throne, the reigning British monarch today would be the Prince Franz, Duke of Bavaria. 

Why Roman Catholics were barred from the throne?

It's quite a long story and history had so many twists and turns since the 18th century, but let's just simplify the saga.  

In the middle of the 18th century, English ministers were determined never to repeat the bloodshed that happened during the reign of Queen Mary Tudor were many protestants were killed.

It was due to Queen Mary's effort to restore Roman Catholicism as the established religion in Britain after it was abolished by her father, King Henry VIII.

Queen Mary was the only surviving child of King Henry VIII from his first wife, Princess Catherine of Aragon whom he divorced to marry Anne Boleyn.

Pope Clement VII refused to annul his marriage with Queen Catherine, in part due to the pope's fear of compromising the relationship between the Vatican and the Holy Roman Empire. 

At that time the reigning Holy Roman Emperor was King Charles I of Spain, the nephew of Queen Catherine.

King Henry VIII was so furious he cut all his ties with the Vatican and abolished the monasteries in Britain, he then established the Church of England and made himself Supreme Governor.

However, his daughter, a deeply devoted Catholic, wished to steer back England to Catholicism. The effort was marred with years of clashes between protestants and Catholics. Many had died as a consequence.

Thus, Mary I was known in history as Bloody Mary. 

The unrest was settled when she died five years later and her half-sister, who was raised an Anglican, ascended the throne as Queen Elizabeth I.

But Elizabeth didn't marry, or refused to marry, so after her death, the throne passed to her nearest relative, King James VI of Scotland.

He reigned in England as James I, paving the way for the personal union between Scotland and England, forming the geographical name of Great Britain. 

But King James I's eldest surviving son who would reign later as Charles I, married a Catholic princess, Henrietta Maria of France. Not only that, his heir, Charles II also married a Catholic princess, Catherine of Braganza.

These circumstances allowed a possibility that a Catholic heir would rise in the British throne someday. The fear of English ministers to have a Catholic monarch had some basis.

The horror of the Bloody Mary period still giving them nightmares, and the Huguenots rebellion in France and other religious persecution elsewhere in the continent made them wary of a papist monarch. 

The parliament however, did not bother creating any laws to ban Catholic claimants because King Charles II remained loyal to continue the protestant succession. Though his wife, Queen Catherine, did not covert to Anglican, his future children were believed to be raised in the Church of England.

The nightmare of the ministers, however, began when King Charles II did not have legitimate children with Queen Catherine.

When he died in 1685 without direct successors, the throne passed to his Catholic brother, Prince James, the Duke of York, who gad a Catholic wife, Princess Mary of Modena.

He ascended the British throne as James II, but the ministers considered this as a temporary anxiety as James II's daughters, who were next in line to succeed, Mary and Anne, were both protestants.

But the action of James II as monarch would later cement the plan of the parliament to effectively ban Roman Catholics from mounting the British throne.

During the early year of James II's reign, it was marked with religious tolerance. Within nine months after he ascended the throne, he dismissed the English parliament, followed by the Scottish parliament, for refusing to pass measures removing legal restrictions on both Catholics and Protestants nonconformists.

The king tried to impose the measures through a decree which led to political unrest in the kingdom. Eventually, antagonism between Catholics and Protestants developed.

In 1688, the fear of the ministers to have a Catholic dynasty in the British throne grew when King James II's second wife gave birth to a son, the king's heir-apparent, James Francis Edward, Prince of Wales.

This event, coupled with the sedition libel filed against the seven bishops of the Church of England and the widespread anti-Catholic riot across England and Scotland, convinced the court ministers that only the abdication of the king could prevent a bloody civil war.

Failed Attempt to Recover the Throne

Outnumbered by supporters of the group that wanted to remove him, King James II was forced to abdicate and fled to France with his wife for the safety of their infant son, the Prince of Wales.

English political class then invited the king's eldest daughter, Princess Mary, and her husband, Prince William of Orange, to take over the throne.

King James II tried several times, in the span of two years, to recover his lost throne but failed, in part because he lacked loyal supporters. His last attempt was in 1690 during the Battle of the Boyne where he was defeated.

He went back to France and spent his life in exile under the protection of his cousin, French king, Louis XIV. 

He died in 1701 without recovering his throne, but his cause to take back the British crown was continued by his son and heir, the Prince of Wales. 

But he too would lose all his campaigns.

Queen Mary II and her husband, King William III, jointly ruled Britain, they did not have children, when they died the throne passed to Queen Mary's younger protestant sister, Queen Anne.

Queen Anne, who had no surviving children with her husband, Prince George of Denmark, tried to resolve the succession dispute and  attempted to name her brother, the exiled Prince of Wales, as her successor provided he would abandon Catholicism and convert to Anglican.

Several attempts to convince James Francis Edward to accept Queen Anne's proposal were made but James, a devoted Catholic, declared he would never abandon his Catholic belief.

In his famous words, he declared: "I followed my course it's up to them to accept it".

It was the last strand that blew off his chances of rising on the British throne. 

An Act of Settlement 1701 was then established by the British parliament, settling the succession of the monarchy on the protestant descendants of Princess Sophia of Hanover, niece of King Charles I.

The Prince of Wales chose his religion over a kingdom but he would press his claims in the succeeding years, in a conflict that would later be known as the Jacobite Uprising.

He reasoned out that it was his birthright to claim the British crown and no need to betray his faith for the sake of mounting the throne.

All his campaigns to take back the lost throne of his father saw massive defeat on his part. He retreated to Rome, protected by the Vatican, and died a broken man.

The Hanoverian Family Tree

Sophia of Hanover's mother, Princess Elizabeth, was the eldest daughter of King James I and older sister of King Charles I.

After the negotiation between Queen Anne's ministers and James Francis Edward (convincing him to switch religion and inherit the British throne) had failed, Sophia was recognized as Queen Anne's heir-presumptive as her nearest protestant relative.

Sophia predeceased Anne by just two months, so the British throne passed to her eldest son who would later become King George I.

George I's great grandson, George III, was the grandfather of Queen Victoria.

The Rightful British King

Tracing the bloodline and birthright, and if Catholics were not barred from succeeding the throne, the monarch who would be occupying the British throne today certainly not Queen Elizabeth II, but Franz, Duke of Bavaria as King Charles I's most senior surviving male descendant.

Prince Franz, Duke of Bavaria 

However, his spokesperson maintained Prince Franz has no plan to press his birthright and succession right to the British throne, he is contented being the Duke of Bavaria.

He is pretender to two thrones, the Bavarian throne and the British throne.

The Duke is an avid art collector and he has an extensive collection of modern art on display in a museum in Munich.

Schleissheim Palace

He lived in splendid German castles and palaces he inherited from his father and uncle, the Schleissheim Palace, Hohenschwangau castle and Berg Castle where King Ludwig II mysteriously died at its nearby lake.

Franz did not marry and had no children, his heir presumptive is his younger brother, Prince Max. However, the prince has no sons, only five daughters, as no females can inherit the Bavarian throne, Max's successor would be their cousin, Prince Luitpold.

Princess Sophie, Hereditary Princess of Liechtenstein

But in the Jacobite succession of the House of Stuart in England and Scotland thrones, Prince Max's successor is his eldest daughter, Princess Sophie, wife of Prince Alois, the Hereditary Prince of Liechtenstein.

Prince Alois and Princess Sophie

Forever Sanction of Catholic Monarchs

So now it's becoming clear why the new Succession Act of 2013 did not repeal the sanction on Roman Catholics to succeed the British throne.

It would have a massive repercussion on the current line of succession to the British throne and might invalidate the Hanoverian descendants from succeeding the throne.

Four relatives of Queen Elizabeth II have been removed from the line of succession because of their Catholic faith.

Lord Nicholas Windsor, youngest son of the Duke of Kent, Edward Windsor, Lord Downpatrick and his younger sister, Lady Marina Charlotte Windsor, both grandchildren of the Duke of Kent.

It's quite sad that despite being in the 21st century and royalty's declaration to adopt modern changes in response to the call of times, the British monarchy still can't remove the discrimination on Catholic faith which is very medieval.

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