On the 25 June at a special meeting of the Executive Council, the Governor-General of New Zealand promulgated the Royal Succession Act Commencement Order 2015.
The Royal Succession Act 2013 was passed in December 2013 to implement several important changes needed to modernise the monarchy. These changes included the introduction of gender equality and removed religious discrimination. However, the provisions of the legislation were left to be brought into force by an Order in Council at a later time. This was to ensure that the new laws were introduced simultaneously, so that the rules determining who assumes the Crown remained the same in all the Commonwealth Realms.
All of the countries which share Queen Elizabeth II as their head of state have now completed the necessary steps to bring the succession changes into force. These important updates took effect from 1 pm on 26 March 2015 (New Zealand daylight time). These much-needed changes to the royal succession remove gender discrimination by allowing women equal right to the throne of New Zealand. It is fitting that the nation which led the charge for women’s suffrage is now ensuring that men do not receive any special preference in the succession order. This means that, from now on, there will always be a 50/50 chance that our head of state will be a woman. That kind of parity is hard to find in any other nation.
The Act also ends the centuries-old prohibition on heirs to the throne marrying Catholics. This requirement came out of 17th century European conflicts and is completely unnecessary today. The religious divisions of the old world have no place in New Zealand. Anything that can be done to remove this discrimination is a positive step. New Zealanders can be proud of the changes that came in to effect on 26 March. They have modernised an ancient institution and will help keep our monarchy relevant far in to the future.