A British regulation–still in existence today– known as the law of entail dictates that daughters cannot inherit property or titles from their noble fathers. It’s the plot of Downton Abbey wherein Lady Mary weds her cousin Matthew in order to keep the nobility in the family. Soon this might change:

A new bill making its way through the House of Lords would for the first time allow noble fathers to pass their titles onto their daughters, the Daily Telegraph reports. The name of the legislation? “The Downton Law,” naturally.

Downton Abbey’s creator Julian Fellowes spoke to Fresh Air’s Dave Davies last year. Hear the interview.

Read the full article via the Atlantic

Britain’s ‘Downton Law’ Would End Gender Discrimination for Nobility Titles

For all of his wealth, land, servants, and evening jackets, Downton Abbey’s Robert Crawley, the fictional Earl of Grantham, lacked one very important asset: a male heir. Under the British law of entail, which dates back to the Middle Ages, none of Lord Grantham’s three daughters could inherit his property or title.

Instead, his earlship would pass to Matthew Crawley, a distant cousin. So began the plot line of Downton’s most delicious soapy couple: Lord and Lady Grantham’s attempting to fix up Matthew with their daughter Mary, Mary resisting, Mary finally falling in love at an inopportune time, and so forth.

The uncertain fate of Downton provided for hours of crumpet-munching TV drama, but now it’s become fodder for British aristocrats who want to change the country’s anachronistic primogeniture rules.

Read more. [Image: ITV]