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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Queen Mulls Reforms for Monarchy

LONDON -- Queen Elizabeth is contemplating making the royal family pay its own way and ditching ancient laws that make it harder for women to inherit the throne and forbid the British monarch marrying a Roman Catholic.


In a bid to modernize the tarnished image of the monarchy, the queen and her senior advisers have been looking at a range of options aimed at ensuring its survival into the 21st century.


Buckingham Palace on Monday confirmed newspaper reports that the queen had set up a strategic policy committee in the wake of what she described as her "annus horribilis" (horrible year). That was 1992, when the marriages of two of her sons collapsed and the high-spending, tax-free lifestyle of the royal family came under attack.


"One of the reasons the monarchy has lasted for over 1,000 years is that it is able to adapt and change as necessary, whilst retaining the enduring public support it enjoys," a palace spokeswoman said.


The committee is headed by the queen, her husband Prince Philip and the heir to the throne, Prince Charles. It meets twice a year for what royal-watchers call a "brainstorming session."


Buckingham Palace declined to give details. Newspapers said the reforms under consideration would include axing the state's 8.7 million pound ($13.5 million) annual payments to the royal family to make it financially self-supporting.


The royal family would also be streamlined, cutting out cousins and other distant relatives widely seen by the public as expensive "hangers-on" living off taxpayers money.


The committee is reported to be examining 11th-century rules which give priority to male children over girls in the right to succeed to the throne, and a 295-year-old ban on the British monarch marrying a Catholic.


The ban on marrying Catholics was enshrined in 1701 in a bid to prevent Papal interference in English life but it does not apply to any other religion and is now seen as offensive.


"The surprising thing is that it has not happened before. The heir to the throne can marry a Buddhist, a Jew, or a Moslem, but not a Catholic," said Catholic writer William Oddie.