Princess becomes Catholic, loses place in line to British throne

Becoming a Catholic has cost Princess Alexandra of Hanover her place in the line of succession to the British throne.

Although the British 2013 Succession to the Crown Act allows heirs to the throne to marry Catholics, the law also says the acting British sovereign cannot be a Catholic. This is because the British monarch is also the head of the Church of England.

Catholics have been barred from the English throne since the Act of Settlement 1701.

Alexandra’s place in the British line of succession came through her father’s family, who are descendants of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s eldest child, Victoria.

Like her father, Prince Ernst August of Hanover, 19-year old Alexandra was originally baptised into the Lutheran church.

In changing her religion, Alexandra will be joining her mother, Princess Caroline of Monaco, who was brought up as a Catholic by her parents, Prince Ranier and Princess Grace (formerly Grace Kelly) of Monaco.

When they decided to marry in 1999, Caroline’s Catholic faith meant her husband, Ernst August, had to ask Queen Elizabeth II for permission, because the British monarch (a title Ernst August or his descendants could potentially inherit) is head of the Church of England.

On 11 January 1999, the Queen issued the following Declaration in Council:

“My Lords, I hereby declare My Consent to a Contract of Matrimony between His Royal Highness Prince Ernst August Albert of Hanover, Duke of Brunswick-Luneburg and Her Serene Highness Princess Caroline Louise Marguerite of Monaco …”

Without the Queen’s consent he would have been removed from the line until the Succession to the Crown Act 1999 came into force in 2015.

Alexandra is also 12th in the line of succession to the Monegasque throne.


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