The world's fascination with the Royal Baby is justified given that the baby will be the future of the British Monarchy. The unborn child of Prince William and Duchess Kate Middleton will be the third heir in line to the British throne regardless of gender.
Until recently, the future for the Royal Baby, if born a girl, was unclear. A law of male primogeniture, established in 1701, declared that male heirs were born with priority to the throne over female heirs regardless of birth order. In other words, according to Today.com, "a younger brother could leapfrog his older sister based on the law." In Oct 2011, however, a change in Britain's laws of succession solidified the Royal Baby's place — male or female — on the throne.
Following William and Kate's marriage, "leaders of the 16 Commonwealth countries that have Queen Elizabeth II as head of state unanimously agreed that sons and daughters of British monarchs will have an equal right to the throne," according to CNN.
The change applies to all countries over which Queen Elizabeth II reigns, which include numerous Caribbean Islands, Belize, Fiji, African Countries including Ghana and Kenya, Canada and Australia, among others. BBC reported that Australia's Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, was extremely enthusiastic about the extraordinary moment.
According to an article in the Daily Mail, Prime Minister David Cameron supported the legal change, calling the previous law "giving preference to male heirs is old-fashioned and discriminatory." The religious roots of the law, "designed to secure the protestant succession to the throne," will no longer dominate the Crown's desire for gender equality.
BBC reported that Cameron went on to call the previous law a "way of thinking is at odds with the modern countries that we have become."
With the reform, Britain will become a system of absolute primogeniture — succession based on birth order over gender — and will join the ranks of European countries of Sweden, the Netherlands, Spain, Norway, Belgium, Denmark and Luxembourg who have all adopted the inheritance policy.
The new British law, however, does not apply retroactively. In a turn of events, Prince Charles's eldest sibling, Anne, will not take the throne before her younger brothers Andrew and Edward for the throne regardless of the family's birth order, according to CNN.
While the world eagerly awaits William and Kate's anticipated birth announcement, it will still be decades at least before the Royal Baby's time to take the throne, especially given the family's historical longevity. The future monarch is currently third in line behind Prince Charles and his or her father, William. Charles is currently 64-years-old and has been waiting over 60 years to become the King of England making him "the longest-waiting successor in British history," according to Today.com. Not to mention that Queen Elizabeth is 86 but Queen Elizabeth, the Queen's mother, lived to be 101.
Nonetheless, this marks an exciting, pivotal moment for the history of Britain. If the Royal Baby is born a girl, she will usher in a new era for the British crown. Although the British monarchy has been progressive for hundreds of years — just look at the strength and influence of Queen Elizabeth — the new law represents a leap for gender equality.