A century ago, women still couldn’t vote in the United States. Today, assorted experts lament that despite considerable gains over the last half century, a “glass ceiling” still blocks many American women from higher workplace status.
And yes, though last month’s election lifted South Carolina out of last place nationally in the percentage of women in state legislatures, we’re still way down there in 49th place, with our 12.9 percent topping only Louisiana’s 11.1 percent.
So Britain’s looming removal of male priority in the royal line of succession represents another welcome step toward gender equity. A bill that Parliament’s expected to pass soon by an overwhelming margin would designate the first-born child of the reigning monarch, regardless of sex, as first in line to the throne.
This change coincides with the news that Prince William’s wife Kate is expecting a baby who could grow up to be the king — or queen.
But before forgetting that women have long wielded considerable clout from thrones and other bases of considerable power, check out this historical review from columnist Richard Evans last week in The Guardian, a British newspaper: “It is striking how often English monarchs have descended through the female line. And the three most successful monarchs since personal leadership in battle ceased to be the major qualification for successful rule, as it was in the Middle Ages, have all been women: Elizabeth I and II and Victoria.”
Indeed, Queen Victoria ruled particularly long (1837-1901) and well as the British Empire expanded to unprecedented vastness.
And while Queen Elizabeth II’s ongoing tenure doesn’t cover nearly as much territory, her subjects rightly celebrated the 60th anniversary of her benevolent reign this year.
So if the Duchess of Cambridge delivers a baby girl next spring, that future queen will have some feminine-monarch impressive examples to follow.
And as for the persisting dearth of women in our General Assembly, hey, at least we have a woman governor.