Monarchy, primogeniture and the law


Sister act made clear

Under the Act of Settlement 1701, the throne of England was settled on the "heirs of the body", which under English common law implies male-preference primogeniture.

The act also required the monarch to be Protestant and banned those who had married Roman Catholics from ascending to the throne.

The vote to end male primogeniture took place on 28 October 2011 at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Australia. It was also agreed that marrying a Roman Catholic should no longer disqualify a person from ascending to the throne.

The actual monarch, however, must continue to be a Protestant - that provision in the Act of Settlement has not been repealed. UK prime minister David Cameron said: "The monarch must be in communion with the Church of England because he or she is the head of that Church."

The Royal Marriages Act 1772 has been repealed: only the first six persons in line to the throne now require the sovereign's approval to marry. And as the monarch's eldest son will no longer automatically be heir apparent, the Treason Act 1351 will be amended to reflect the severity of attempting to murder the monarch's heir - male or female.


Place your Beths

Queen Elizabeth I was sometimes known as the Virgin Queen, but whether that was true is still debated today. It is more feasible that the idea that she would never be cowed by any man was cultivated as part of the powerful propaganda of her reign.

Start history lessons on the Tudor queen by looking at the films that have been made about her. Actors from American Bette Davis to Australian Cate Blanchett and Briton Judi Dench have played Elizabeth I. Why do students think that she remains such a fascinating figure today?

Another British queen - or, more accurately, queen consort - in focus this summer is Elizabeth I's great-grandmother Elizabeth Woodville, who is the subject of BBC television series The White Queen (pictured). Portrayed in novels as a romantic figure who married for love, she experienced danger and skulduggery in real life. She was embroiled in the Wars of the Roses, which were fought over the throne by the houses of Lancaster and York.

The series has received mixed reviews and has attracted attention for its wardrobe gaffes. Historical purists have spotted incorrect armour, padded trousers and even zips on costumes based on clothes of the 15th century.


Baby blues are in the blood

Researchers at the University of Warwick have developed a test that can identify which women are vulnerable to post- natal depression. A new baby is a cause for celebration but one in seven new mothers in the UK suffers from depression. The blood test, carried out in early pregnancy, identifies genes that make a woman more susceptible to the condition.

Studies of 200 pregnant women found that those who had two flawed stress genes were three to five times more likely to develop post-natal depression. The flawed genes mean that women's normal hormonal balance does not return immediately at the end of their pregnancy. The National Health Service says that wider-ranging studies are required but the researchers at Warwick believe that women could be screened at a cost of about #163;10 per patient.

Use the news to spark a discussion on the broader issue of pregnancy. Lesson plans on the TES Connect website will help you to raise awareness of the physical and emotional aspects of pregnancy, as well as the demands of parenthood.


- Introduce Elizabeth I with video clips, portraits and activities in this lesson for 11- to 14-year-olds. bit.lyElizabethI

- Show students why it wasn't clear who the heir to the throne was in 1066 with this PowerPoint and poster task. bit.ly3heirs1066

- This resource considers the responsibilities of parenthood and the attributes that a parent should have. bit.lyparenth00d

- How are laws made and changed? This resource explores the roles of courts, Members of Parliament and the Queen. bit.lymakelaws


- Debate the media coverage of the royal baby with this news article and suggested activities. bit.lyroyalBaby

- This video explores the signs, symptoms and treatment of post-natal depression. bit.lypostNatal

- Introduce your class to the basics of news writing. bit.lyNews Report Writing.

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