LONDON — In a majestic moment for gender equality, female members of the British royal family on Friday were granted the same rights as males to ascend to the British throne.
The 16 Commonwealth nations that acknowledge Queen Elizabeth II as their monarch announced that male heirs will no longer take precedence over their sisters in succession.
The historic reform overturns a 300-year rule stating that first-born sons inherit the British throne. The only way for a woman to ascend to the throne, as Queen Elizabeth did in 1952, had been if the previous monarch had no sons.
The Commonwealth leaders also scrapped the rule barring a potential monarch from marrying a Catholic, although the monarch will remain head of the decidedly non-Catholic Church of England.
The changes mean that, regardless of gender, any first-born child of Prince William, currently second in line to become king after his father, would eventually become the monarch.
"If the royal couple have a girl rather than a boy, then that little girl would be our queen," British Prime Minister David Cameron told the BBC.