Succession to the British throne is based upon male primogeniture, whereby male heirs take precedence and the right of succession belongs to the eldest son. Thus, the heir apparent has always been a male. A female heir to the throne could only be the heiress apparent, rather than the heiress presumptive (“presumptive” as she could be ousted at any time by the birth of a son to the reigning Monarch) if she were the sole, or eldest, surviving daughter of a dead heir apparent, who had no sons.(13)
In some realms the Salic law principle operates, whereby women are entirely excluded from the succession, such as in Belgium and Spain. Indeed, when King William IV, ruler of Britain and Hanover, died in 1837, the succession to the British throne by his niece, Victoria, meant the end of the Hanover connection, since by Hanoverian law a woman could not ascend to their throne.(14)
However, there is no reason why modern Britain could not have adopted a different system, as Sweden did in 1979, whereby the right of succession passes to the Sovereign’s eldest child, irrespective of sex.(15) This is especially relevant when the wide acceptance of women as British Monarchs is considered. Queen Elizabeth II and Queen Victoria are prime examples.
As we live in modern times of equal opportunity for women, it is outrageous that the highest office in the land is a bastion of sexual discrimination.
This is yet another instance of how outmoded the English Monarchy is.”