Queen Elizabeth II is the queen of 54 Commonwealth countries. 16 of these countries are called Commonwealth Realm countries and Canada is one of them.
When Elizabeth steps down or dies, her son, Prince Charles will become King. Ifhe steps down or dies, his first-born son, Prince William will become King–even though Princess Anne is the Queen’s only daughter and is next in age to Prince Charles.
In other words, because she is female, the crown wouldn’t go to Princess Anne.
Since the beginning of the British monarchy, men have been chosen first to become the next ruler.
A woman can only be chosen when there are no men in the monarch’s direct line, (like a brother or a brother’s sons).
That is how Elizabeth became queen. Her father, King George VI, had two daughters and no sons.
Last October, Commonwealth countries agreed that this centuries-old tradition was old-fashioned and should change.
Last week, at the opening of British Parliament in London, the Queen proposed a law to allow women to become Queen if that woman is next in line.
The Queen proposed other changes, as well.
She proposed that monarchs in Britain should be able to marry Roman Catholics.
This has been forbidden since the time of Henry VIII, who wanted to get a divorce (which was not allowed by the Catholic Church).
Henry VIII split the church into two parts — the Church of England (Anglican) and the Roman Catholic church. Since then no King or Queen of England has been allowed to marry a Catholic.
Stephen Harper has said Canada’s government approves of these changes but doesn’t consider them a priority for Canada.
He said he doesn’t believe there should be much time in Parliament spent debating them when there are other issues that are more important.