Mouthpiece: Time to end religious bias

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Self-rule debate is chance to end royal discrimination, says Norman Bonney

In the first week of July the Queen will be visiting Scotland as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

Now questions arise as to the implications of possible Scottish independence for the monarchy.

The SNP has said that it plans to retain the monarchy in an independent Scotland. But many questions remain about the precise constitutional situation around this.

The Scottish Parliament supported a motion in 1999 to abolish the Act of Settlement of 1700 which disqualifies Catholics and members of other religions from succeeding to the throne.

Given that negotiations for independence would require changes to the Acts of Union of 1707, this would provide an opportunity to remove the inherent religious discrimination built in to the UK monarchy.

Like her predecessors, the monarch had to make a declaration of her Protestant faith which involves a repudiation of Catholic doctrine.

So strong is this statement of core Protestant belief that it would probably not be acceptable in the Scottish Parliament’s Time for Reflection according to its guidelines.

Given some of the difficulties in Scotland associated with Protestant/Catholic differences among a minority of the population, steps to remove religious discrimination surrounding the monarchy could be a part of any negotiations towards Scottish independence in line with the expressed view of the Scottish Parliament.

To continue with a Protestant monarchy in the UK or Scotland would seem most anachronistic in the 21st century.

n Norman Bonney is emeritus professor at Edinburgh Napier University