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SUCCESSION TO THE THRONE.
“ And, countrymen, my loving followers,
Plead my successive title with your swords ;
Titus Andronicus, act i. sc. I.
The main foundation upon which the right of succession to the throne in these realms appears to rest is, that the Crown by custom and common law is bereditary, with some peculiarities of descent; but that the right of inheritance may be modified by act of parliament, under which modifications the Crown still continues hereditary.
The succession to freehold estates very nearly corresponds with the course in which the Crown is inherited: thus there is a preference of males to females, and a right of primogeniture among the males; on failure of the male issue, too, the throne is filled by the issue female. But amongst the peculiarities of this inheritance, is one respecting the title of the female lines. On failure of the male line in ordinary inheritances, the title becomes vested in all the daughters at once; but with the Crown, the right of primogeniture is equally applied to the female as to the male representatives, and the eldest daughter and her issue succeed. In France, and some other coun. tries, the SALIQUE LAW, as it is called, prevails; this was a code of regulations established, it is said, by the Franks when they entered Gaul, and consisting of twenty-four heads; the 6th article, speaking of freeholds, says, " that no part of the Salique lands shall be inherited by females, but that the males must always succeed ;” whence it has been concluded that the custom of refusing the crown of France to females was founded on this article. But to return to Eng. land; the title to the throne derived through persons deceased holds good as in all other inheritances. The daughter of a son, therefore, succeeds in preference to the son of a daughter, merely on account of the superior claim of the deceased son over the deceased daughter. On a failure of lineal descendants, the collateral relatives inherit, provided they are lineally descended from the royal stock in which the Crown was first vested, or to whose descendants the succession to the throne had been limited.
But in another respect a difference was till recently observed between royal and common descents; in the former, kinsmen of the half-blood can succeed, which, till 1834, was not the case with the latter; that is to say, when the relationship is derived not from the same couple of ancestors (which constitutes a kinsman of the whole blood)--but from the same father by a different mother, and vice versa. This, until January 1834, did not hold with respect to inheritance according to the common descents. But from that time forward the law of ordinary inheritance
was assimilated in this respect to that which regulates the descent of the Crown.
The hereditary succession to the throne is liable to changes which the parliament can effect, in order to provide for all cases of idiotcy, lunacy, and other unforeseen occurrences which may render necessary the interference of the legislature. The Crown, howsoever transferred, still continues hereditary, or rather retains its descendible qualities, as far as regards the heirs of the new possessor, unless the transfer be accompanied by limitations. Hence the king is said never to die, because the Crown is instantly in
the death of one monarch by his legal heir and successor.
The power of limiting the succession to the throne, which has been stated to reside in the two houses of parliament and the reigning prince, is considered of so much importance to the well-being of the state, that by the statute 6th Anne, cap. 7, it is enacted, that whoever maintains in writing or print that the king, with the authority of parliament, is incompetent to make laws binding the crown and its descent, shall be guilty of high treason ; and that whoever maintains such a doctrine orally, and not in writing, shall incur the penalties of a præmunire, that is to say, shall be “out of the king's protection,” his property forfeited to the king, and his person imprisoned during the king's pleasure.
The following list comprehends the present heirs to the throne of the United Kingdom in the natural order of succession :
The Prince of Wales (the Queen's eldest son).
Ernest, King of Hanover (the Queen's uncle).
The Duke of Cambridge }(the Queen's uncles).
Prince George of Cam
(the Queen's cousins).
of Gloucester (the Queen's aunts).
daughter of George III. and cousin to the
Queen). The legitimate issue of any individual in the above list will of course succeed in preference to all whose names follow that of his parent; and there are seve. ral foreign princes who, in right of their descent from the Electress Sophia, would be entitled to succeed the last-mentioned in the above list, so long as they continued to profess the protestant religion.
ACCESSION TO THE THRONE.
Though in common with other men the king is subject to mortality, yet he is said never to die, because the kingly office survives in his successor, and immediately on the death of one sovereign, the next heir succeeds instantly, the sovereignty