The federal government will introduce legislation Thursday to end the centuries-old practice of giving male heirs to the throne precedence over their older sisters.

Canada and other Commonwealth countries were asked to pass the legislation similar to the one introduced in the British parliament as Prince William and his wife, Catherine, await the birth of their first child.

Under the existing law, if the royal couple has a daughter, she will stand behind any younger brothers in line for the throne. But once new legislation is introduced, succession rules will be applied equally to male and female offspring.

The legislation will also allow a monarch or a direct heir to the throne to marry a Roman Catholic.

Insiders say introducing this legislation in Canada will not involve re-opening the Canadian constitution.

With a report from CTV’s Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife