No Catholics Please, We’re British
Someone asked recently was “England” a democracy, given that it has a monarch. One trouble with this question is its sloppiness in assuming that “England” is the entirety of The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. In fact, of all the constituent nations of the UK, only England has no real, functioning national government. Scotland and Wales got their own legislatures recently, while Northern Ireland’s pops in and out of existence depending on levels of testosterone prevailing there. It’s interesting to note that unlike the UK’s national legislature in Westminster, Scotland and Wales’ devolved legislatures are elected using a vaguely proportional voting system, while Northern Ireland’s use an even more proportional voting system similar to that used in the Republic of Ireland.
The UK’s Crown Dependencies/tax dodge islands (Isle of Man, Jersey, and Guernsey) also have their own legislatures. The Isle of Man’s legislature, in fact, predates all other governments within the UK by several hundred years. I’m anticipating Cornwall getting its own legislature sooner rather than later, because devolution is all the rage in the UK at the moment.
All the nations and dependencies of the UK do though, of course, acknowledge Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor as Head of State by virtue of her direct legal descent from Electress Sophia, Princess Palatine of the Rhine (1630-1714).
The Act of Settlement (1701) defines who can be Head of State of the UK. Basically, you can be any religion but Roman Catholic and can not have married a Roman Catholic or be descended from any union where a Catholic was involved. This Catholic exclusion defines the legal descendents of the above-mentioned Sophia, a relative of William and Anne of Orange, the victors of the last successful military coup within the UK (1688).
It’s a curious and discriminatory historical accident that Catholics are excluded from possibly becoming the UK’s Head of State. When written, the Act seems to have assumed there could only be “Protestants” and “Catholics”, and so the definitions are very strict about what constitutes a Roman Catholic, but very loose about what constitutes a “Protestant”.