The Royal Marriages Act of 1772 made it illegal for any member of the British royal family (defined as all descendants of King George II, excluding descendants of princesses who marry foreigners) under the age of 25 to marry without the consent of the ruling monarch. Any member of the Royal Family over the age of 25 who has been refused the sovereign's consent may marry one year after giving notice to the Privy Council of their intention to so marry, unless Parliament passes an act against the marriage in the interim.
The Act further made it a crime to perform or participate in an illegal marriage of any member of the Royal Family.
The 1772 Act resulted from the 1771 marriage of Henry Frederick, Duke of Cumberland, brother of George III to the commoner Anne Horton, a woman George III considered unsuitable. As the result of the Act, the 1785 marriage of George IV, then heir to the throne, to Maria Anne Fitzherbert (a Catholic widow) was deemed illegal; without the Royal Marriages Act, it is possible that the marriage could have excluded George from the throne under the Act of Settlement.
The Succession to the Crown Bill, presented to Parliament on December 9, 2004 would repeal this act in its entirety if passed.
Text of the Act (http://sources.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Marriages_Act_1772)
Succession to the Crown Bill (http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200405/ldbills/011/05011.1-i.html)
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