Crown Prince

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In monarchies with a first-born succession order ( primogeniture ), the crown prince is usually the eldest son of an emperor or king who will hold the throne after the death of the reigning monarch without the need for further legal acts. The corresponding title in ruling royal houses is Hereditary Prince . In Russia , the Crown Prince was the Tsarevich (literally "son of the Tsar").

If the monarch does not have a son entitled to the throne, his relative, who according to the rules of the state or the ruling house will take the throne after his death, is called the heir to the throne , but not the crown prince. This is not a title, just a job title. This is therefore used in addition to existing titles.


So was z. B. in Prussia the future King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia (reigned 1840–1861) as the eldest son of King Friedrich Wilhelm III. (ruled 1797–1840) "Crown Prince of Prussia" since his accession to the throne. Since Friedrich Wilhelm IV remained childless, his next younger brother, Prince Wilhelm - later the Prussian King and German Emperor Wilhelm I (r. 1861–1888) - was heir to the throne from 1840 under the name of Prince of Prussia .

As in the case of the combination of offices “German Emperor and King of Prussia”, the Crown Prince was also “Crown Prince of the German Empire and of Prussia” in the German Empire from 1871 to 1918. In contrast to all other princes of the Prussian house, who could only be described as " Royal Highnesses " and had no German title, the Crown Prince, as a candidate for the German Imperial Crown, was also to be called or addressed as "Imperial Highness".

In Austria-Hungary , Emperor Franz Joseph I's only son, Rudolf , held the title of Crown Prince from his birth. After his death, the Emperor's brother Archduke Karl Ludwig was heir to the throne, after his death his eldest son, Archduke Franz Ferdinand ; he was called the "Archduke Heir to the Throne". After the assassination of Franz Ferdinand in 1914, this name passed to the heir to the throne, Karl (ruled as Karl I. 1916–1918). His son Otto in turn carried the title of Crown Prince until the end of the monarchy.

Female primogeniture

The Crown Princess is, on the one hand, the wife of a Crown Prince who is not personally entitled to the throne, and on the other hand, in monarchies with female succession, the oldest child of the monarch who is entitled to the throne if it is a daughter.

The female succession to the throne was excluded in Salian monarchies (especially in the German cultural area) or had to be laboriously secured through complicated legal changes - as in the case of the " pragmatic sanction " in favor of the Habsburg heiress Maria Theresa before 1740.

In other monarchies, however, there is a conditional or even unconditional equal female succession, which a female heir to the throne recognized either in the absence of male heirs or as a monarch's first-born with equal rights. Well-known cases are the female succession to the throne in Great Britain : in 1837 in the case of Queen Victoria , who, however, could not also inherit the German Kingdom of Hanover , which until then was in personal union with Great Britain (which therefore fell to her eldest uncle), or in 1952 in the case of Queen Elisabeth II.

In the course of the 20th century, complete equality of male and female primogeniture became established in most European monarchies - a reaction to the general social tendency towards women's emancipation . Because the Japanese heir to the throne only fathered a daughter and no son, a discussion about female succession arose there too. However, this seems to have become quieter again with the birth of a son in the family of the younger son Prince Akishino , Prince Hisahito (born September 6, 2006).


The primogeniture (firstborn succession) is not common in all monarchies of the world. In Islamic monarchies in particular, the seniorate was and is often used as an alternative to the succession to the throne. This applies, for example, to the succession to the throne in the Ottoman Empire , after the succession of sons, enforced since the 15th century by the targeted killing of all younger brothers of a sultan , was replaced in the 17th century in favor of a successor to the oldest relative of a deceased sultan Brothers or cousins ​​of a monarch his successor before - depending on age - the eldest succession could take hold in the next generation.

In a corresponding way, the eldest brother (or half-brother) of the king still bears the title of "crown prince" with the right of succession in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia .

In the Hashimite monarchies of Iraq and Jordan , the succession was mixed: Primogeneity prevailed there, but - mostly in the absence of a son of the ruling monarch - the crown prince title and the right to the throne could also be transferred to other relatives of the monarch. Between 1953 and 1958, under the last king of Iraq, Faisal II (ruled 1939–1958), his uncle Abd-al-Ilah was crown prince. Both were murdered in the 1958 military coup .

Similarly, under King Hussein I of Jordan (ruled 1952–1999), his brother Prince Hassan was crown prince for a long time , before Hussein transferred this function to one of his sons, the current King Abdullah II (ruled since 1999), shortly before his death , transmitted.

Special heir apparent titles

Crown princes often have a special title of their own, which often refers to an earlier partial kingdom or principality, but is now only an honorary title:

De facto crown princes in non-monarchies

In a number of states that are pro forma republics, but were or are being ruled in an authoritarian or despotic manner, a de facto succession to the throne also established itself, particularly in the context of decolonization after 1945. Well-known examples include:

Web links

Wiktionary: Kronprinz  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Crown Princess  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations