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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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July 15th, 2013
07:21 PM ET

Could a baby girl modernize British monarchy?

If Britain's Prince William and his wife Kate have a baby girl, it could potentially help to modernize the monarchy.

Until 2011, any daughter born to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge would not have enjoyed an equal right to inherit the British throne. Rules dating back centuries decreed that the crown pass to the eldest son and only be bestowed on a daughter when there were no sons.

All this changed at an October 2011 meeting of the leaders of 16 Commonwealth countries in Perth, Australia, where they unanimously agreed to amend the succession rules.

"In British history we've always privileged the king and now this is completely different," said royal historian Kate Williams. "This baby, if it's a girl, will be our next queen. And it doesn't matter how many brothers she has. She'll get the title."

"This is, I think, is a big move forward," said Williams, adding that it is a big boost to equality.

"We're saying a woman can do the job and the monarch has caught up with Britain, where it's supposed to be about equality here," said Williams.

The country has been behind its European cousins when it comes to leveling the royal playing field for girls. Sweden established an equal law of succession more than 20 years ago. Similar laws are in force in Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Norway.

There have only been six queens in the history of the British monarchy. Two of England's best loved monarchs have been women: Queen victoria and Queen Elizabeth II.

"Every time we've had a queen, they've made a lot of changes, they are modern, they're exciting – Victoria, Elizabeth II," said Williams. "We love Elizabeth II in this country, she's one of our most popular monarchs. She set a great example in terms of longevity, in terms of being being politically neutral and dignified."

"We just want another girl to do the same job," said Williams.

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