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Nepal: Female Monarch Now Possible
New rules clear the way for 6-year-old Princess Purnika to inherit the throne
Umesh Shrestha (salokya)     Print Article 
Published 2006-08-01 13:27 (KST)   
The Shah dynasty has sat on the throne of Nepal for 237 years. In all that time there has never been a female monarch, but that is now set to change.

If the Nepalese monarchy is able to survive the political changes of the coming months the Crown Prince's eldest daughter Princess Purnika will become the Shah dynasty's first reigning Queen.

On July 31 the cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, amended a law relating to the succession, now making it possible for the eldest child of the reigning monarch to become first in line to the throne, regardless of whether they are a son or a daughter.

The decision does not change who is presently first in line to the throne. When King Gyanendra passes away, the crown will be inherited by his son Crown Prince Paras.

However, it does have a dramatic impact on the Crown Prince's children. Until now his 5-year-old son Hridayandra stood to inherit the throne after Paras's death, but he must now make way for his 6-year-old sister Purnika.

The amendment will be presented to the House of Representatives where it is expected that it will be passed.

At the same meeting the cabinet decided to reduce the amount of money going to the royal family. All in all it has not been a good week for little Hridayandra, who will lose the monthly allowance paid to him by the government.

Under the new law only the King, Queen, Crown Prince, Crown Princess and Queen Mother will be entitled to allowances.

However, it is surely the decision to allow a woman to be monarch that will have the greatest significance for people throughout Nepal. Many Nepalese women complain that they are discriminated against by a patriarchal society. This latest decision sends out clear signals that women are equal to men.

Nepal is not the only country where gender has affected the right to be monarch.

Queen Elizabeth II is the present monarch of Great Britain but according to the British law of succession she would not have inherited the throne if she had had an elder brother. England has only had six reigning queens since the 16th century.

Britain's neighbor, Denmark also uses the same system of male-preference primogeniture.

In recent years Sweden, Belgium, and the Netherlands have shown that they are significantly more advanced by changing their laws of succession to abolish male primogeniture.

In Japan at the moment the royal succession is under debate, and it is possible that women will soon be allowed to sit on the throne.
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Umesh Shrestha

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