Originally Posted by CarolMR
Tony Blair is a convert to Catholicism, isn't he? While I was watching Pope Benedict in Great Britain on the TV news here in the US, the caption under him kept reading, "Catholics are Forbidden to Claim the British Throne." Even though that's true, I thought it was a little unfair to keep reminding Americans of that. And the news also stated that this is the first "official" visit to Great Britain by a pope in 500 years, since breaking with Rome. How can that be true? Pope John Paul II visited during his Papacy.
Roman Catholic Pope has never paid an official state visit to the British Islands until Benedict XVI's. John Paul II was the first pope on the British soil, true, but this was only a pastoral visit, which he paid as a religous leader. Now, his successor was received also as a head of state. Protocol says, that such visits are marked by some ceremonial actions, such as an official state welcome at the receiving monarch's or presiden's official residence, a gun salute (I suppouse Benedict XVI was given one), inspeting the guards of honour, an audience with the monarch or president, exchange of gifts and meeting with the highest dignitaries of the welcoming state, such as head and members of the government and head and members of the parliament. State visits may be paid only on the highest level of the structure of power, meaning only a head of state may pay a state visit to another head of state. It is a tradition that a reigning monarchs should pay a state visit to a country only one time during his reign. As far as I know, Elizabeth II does so, with the exception of visits to the Commonwealth member-states. One more thing about the representation during the state visits, I think Benedict XVI should be welcomed at the airport in Edinurgh by the Queen herslef, and not the Duke of Edinburgh on her behalf. But, It is still a higher person welcoming the pope at his arrival than it was at John Paul II's arrival, when he was welcomed by the Duke of Norfolk on behalf of The Queen. But, as I said, it was not a state visit.
Tony Blair has converted to Catholicism in 2007, after his premiership. His wife Cherie Blair nee Booth is a Catholic. The UK has never been governed by a Catholic prime minister. Queen Victoria's PM Benjamin Disraeli was Jewish by birth, but converted to Anglicanism before becoming PM.
Succession in the United Kingdom is also governed by the Act of Union 1800
, which restates the provisions of the Act of Settlement 1701
and the Bill of Rights
(1689). These laws stipulate that those who are not legitimate descendants of Sophia, Electress of Hanover
and those who have ever been Roman Catholics
, or who have married Roman Catholics, are disbarred from succeeding to the Crown. The descendants of those who are disbarred for becoming or marrying Roman Catholics, however, may still be eligible to succeed.