THE daughter of former Edinburgh MP Michael Ancram is leading calls for a change in the law to allow female aristocrats to inherit their father’s titles.
Lady Clare Kerr is the eldest daughter of the former Tory deputy leader, but will not succeed to his title of Marquess of Lothian because of the centuries-old rules of male inheritance. Lady Clare has a sister, but no brother, so the title will pass to their uncle.
MPs are set to approve legislation to ensure that if William and Kate’s new baby is a girl she can become queen, but so far there has been no move to change the laws of succession to give the same precedence to the firstborn daughters of the gentry.
Lady Clare, 33, who is married to Cabinet Office minister Nick Hurd and has a seven-month-old daughter, said the aristocracy was “two steps behind” the Royal family because even at the moment daughters can inherit the throne if there are no sons.
She said she did not want to change the law for herself and she said there were good reasons for protecting a male line of inheritance to preserve names and families.
But she said: “There is certainly a conversation to be had with regard to moving even one step forward to where the royal family were before this recent change; in the absence of a son there should be no reason a daughter should not inherit – and once that has been established it is difficult to argue against girls inheriting if they are the first-born.
“There are more pressing issues demanding the attention of the government – but I am wholly supportive of equal rights.”
Lady Clare’s father was Conservative MP for Edinburgh South from 1979 until 1987 and served as a Scottish Office minister.
He later returned as MP for Devizes and was chairman of the Conservative Party and then deputy leader.
As the elder son of the 12th Marquess of Lothian, he was known from birth by the courtesy title the Earl of Ancram. He became the 13th Marquess on his father’s death in 2004 but was not disqualified from continuing as an MP because hereditary peers no longer have an automatic right to sit in the House of Lords. He was made a life peer in 2010.