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§ 20. “Her Majesty's Heirs and Successors.”

The Succession to the Crown was, after the revolution of 1688, settled by the Bill of Rights, I. Wm. and Mary (2nd Sess.), c. 2. The throne being declared vacant by the abdication of James II., the Crown was settled on King William III., Prince of Orange, grandson of Charles I., and nephew and son-in-law of the deposed monarch, and on Queen Mary, eldest daughter of James II. and wife of William III., for their joint lives; then on the survivor of them; then on the issue of Queen Mary; upon failure of such issue it was limited to Princess Anne of Denmark, King James' second daughter, and her issue; and lastly, on the failure of that, to the issue of King William. Towards the end of King William's reign, when it became probable that neither he nor Princess


  ― 324 ―
Anne would leave issue to inherit the Crown, it became necessary to make other legislative provision for the succession, which was done by 12 and 13 William III. c. 2, commonly known as the Act of Settlement (1702). The first section of this Act declared that, after his Majesty King William III. and the Princess Anne of Denmark, and in default of issue of the said Princess Anne and of his Majesty respectively, the Princess Sophia, Electress of Hanover, grand-daughter of King James I., should be next in succession to the Imperial Crown and dignity “of the said realm of England, France, and Ireland, with the dominions and territories thereunto belonging,” and that after the decease of his Majesty William III. and her Royal Highness the Princess Anne, and in default of issue of the Princess Anne and of his Majesty respectively, the Crown and Regal Government of the “said Kingdom of England, France, and Ireland and of the dominions thereunto belonging, with the Royal State and dignity of the said realm and all honours, styles, titles, regalities, prerogatives, powers, jurisdictions, and authorities to the same belonging and appertaining, shall remain and continue to the said Most Excellent Princess Sophia and the heirs of her body being Protestants.” The fourth and last section of the Act recites that “whereas the laws of England are the birthright of the people thereof, and all the Kings and Queens who shall ascend the throne of this realm ought to administer the government of the same according to the said laws, and all their officers and ministers ought to serve them respectively according to the same; the said Lords Spiritual and Temporal and Commons do therefore further humbly pray. That all the laws and statutes of this realm for securing the Established Religion, and the rights and liberties of the people thereof, and all other laws and statutes of the same now in force, may be ratified and confirmed; and the same are by his Majesty by and with the advice and consent of the said Lords Spiritual and Temporal and Commons and by the authority of the same ratified and confirmed accordingly.”

Both William III., and Queen Anne after him, died without leaving issue; the Princess Sophia predeceased Queen Anne. The inheritance, therefore, descended to her son and heir, who became King George I. From him it descended to King George II., from whom it descended to George III.; then to George IV., who was succeeded by his brother, William IV.; and after him it descended to his niece Princess Victoria, our present Gracious Queen, daughter of Edward, Duke of Kent. (Stephen's Comment., vol, 2. p. 451.)

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