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Major shake-up of royal succession laws ends male bias

A major shake-up of the laws surrounding royal succession to the throne have come into force, meaning first-born females will no longer take second place to their younger brothers.

The Succession to the Crown Act was rushed through Parliament and passed in 2013, ahead of the birth of Prince William and Kate's first-born - though it proved unnecessary when they delivered a boy, King George.

The legislation was rushed through in case Prince William and Kate's first child was a girl - though was not needed when they gave birth to a boy, Prince George Credit: PA

Under the ancient rules favouring males, royal sons took precedence over any elder sisters.

It means if William and Kate's second child is a girl, she will take her place in line to the throne behind George, even if more brothers follow.

The new law also means a member of the royal family can become monarch even if they marry a Roman Catholic spouse - which was previously banned - though a Roman Catholic royal still cannot be king or queen.

Rees-Mogg: Charles letters decision 'unconstitutional'

The Supreme Court have reached an "unconstitutional decision" by allowing letters written by the Prince of Wales to government ministers to be published, Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg has said.

The MP for North East Somerset said the ruling would make it very difficult for Prince Charles to do his job.

"It is the job of the Prince of Wales to interest himself in what his majesty's government is doing that's his role, that's his job", he said.

Letters ruling 'a good day for transparency in government'

Alan Rusbridger, Editor-in-Chief, Guardian News & Media Credit: PA Wire

The Supreme Court ruling on the release of letters written by Prince Charles to government ministers "is a good day for transparency in government", Alan Rusbridger, Editor-in-Chief, Guardian News & Media has said.

In a statement, Rusbridger said: "We are delighted the Supreme Court has overwhelmingly backed the brilliant 10-year campaign by Guardian reporter Rob Evans to shine daylight on the letters Princes Charles has been writing to ministers.

"The government wasted hundreds of thousands of pounds trying to cover up these letters, admitting their publication would 'seriously damage' perceptions of the Prince's political neutrality. Now they must publish them so that the public can make their own judgment.

"This is a good day for transparency in government and shows how essential it is to have a fully independent judiciary and free press."

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Cameron: Charles letters ruling 'disappointing'

David Cameron Credit: PA Wire

Prime Minister David Cameron has said the Government will now consider how to release the Prince of Wales's letters following the "disappointing" ruling by the Supreme Court.

Cameron said: "This is a disappointing judgment and we will now consider how to release these letters. This is about the principle that senior members of the Royal Family are able to express their views to government confidentially. I think most people would agree this is fair enough.

He added: "Our FOI laws specifically include the option of a governmental veto, which we exercised in this case for a reason. If the legislation does not make Parliament's intentions for the veto clear enough, then we will need to make it clearer."

Guardian editor praises Evans for Charles 'black memos' fight

Guardian Editor in chief Alan Rusbridger today praised reporter Rob Evans for his 10-year campaign to allow the letters to be published.

Evans originally made an application under the Freedom of Information act to see the Prince's 2004 and 2005 letters to Government ministers.

When he was refused, he went to an Freedom of Information Tribunal who ruled they could be published in 2012.

But the Attorney General made a ruling preventing the publication of the letters by the Guardian.

Prince Charles 'black spider' letters can be made public

Prince of Wales Credit: PA Wire

The Supreme Court has ruled a series of letters written by the Prince of Wales to government ministers can be published.

The decision overturns an earlier ruling made by the Attorney General, which was upheld by the High Court, preventing the publication of the so-called 'Black Spider' memos.

Supreme Court President Lord Neuberger said there was a "fundamental composite principle" behind the court's reasons for dismissing the appeal.

He announced: "That principle is that a decision of a judicial body should be final and binding and should not be capable of being overturned by a member of the executive."

A Freedom of Information Tribunal had ruled in 2012 that the letters, so named after the Prince's distinctive handwriting and abundant use of underlining and exclamation marks, could be published but the Attorney General had prevented the publication.

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