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An heir presumptive is the person provisionally scheduled to inherit a throne, peerage, or other hereditary honor, but whose position can be displaced by the birth of an heir apparent or of a new heir presumptive with a better claim to the throne. When lowercased, "heir presumptive" can refer generally to someone who is provisionally scheduled to inherit a title, position or possession, unless displaced by an heir apparent or another heir presumptive. In both cases, the position is however subject to law and/or conventions that may alter who is entitled to be heir presumptive.

Depending on the rules of the monarchy the heir presumptive might be the daughter of a monarch (if males take priority over females and the monarch has no sons), or the senior member of a collateral line (if the monarch is childless).

If an heir apparent is born, he becomes first-in-line to the throne, with all of his descendants taking priority over the heir presumptive in the Line of Succession. In the event of there being an heir apparent, the most senior person in the Line of Succession who is not a direct male descendant of the monarch is not described as heir presumptive.

For more detailed information, and a comparison between the positions of heir presumptive and heir apparent, see heir apparent.

Several simultaneous[]

Main article: Abeyance

In the English common law of inheritance, there is no seniority between sisters; where there is no son to inherit, any number of daughters share equally. Therefore certain hereditary titles can have multiple simultaneous heiresses presumptive. Since the title cannot be held by two people simultaneously, two daughters (without a brother) who inherit in this way would do so as co-parceners and before they inherit, both would be heirs presumptive. In these circumstances, the title would in fact be held in abeyance until one person represents the claim of both, or the claim is renounced by one or the other for herself and her heirs, or the abeyance is ended by the Crown. There are special procedures for handling doubtful or disputed cases.

Heirs presumptive as of 2010[]

  • Caroline, Princess of Hanover, is the Heiress Presumptive to the throne of Monaco. If her brother Albert II, Prince of Monaco, fathers a legitimate child, that child would be heir apparent if male or heiress presumptive if female.
  • [['Aho'eitu 'Unuaki'otonga Tuku'aho|TupoutoTemplate:Okinaa Lavaka (Template:OkinaAhoTemplate:Okinaeitu Template:OkinaUnuakiTemplate:Okinaotonga TukuTemplate:Okinaaho)]] is the Heir Presumptive to the throne of Tonga; if his brother King George Tupou V fathers a legitimate child, that child would be heir apparent if male or heiress presumptive if female.
  • Jigyel Ugyen Wangchuck is the Heir Presumptive to the throne of Bhutan. If his brother Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck fathers a legitimate child, that child would be heir apparent if male or heiress presumptive if female.

Examples of heirs presumptive who inherited thrones[]

Albert I, King of the Belgians

  • Queen Isabella I of Castile, who succeeded her half-brother Henry IV in 1474
  • King Manuel I of Portugal, who succeeded his cousin John II in 1495
  • King Louis XII of France, who succeeded his cousin Charles VIII in 1498
  • Queen Juana of Castile, who succeeded her mother Isabella I in 1504
  • King Francis I of France, who succeeded his cousin Louis XII in 1515
  • Queen Mary I of England, who succeeded her half-brother Edward VI in 1553
  • Queen Elizabeth I of England, who succeeded her half-sister Mary I in 1558
  • King Charles IX of France, who succeeded his brother Francis II in 1560
  • King Henry III of France, who succeeded his brother Charles IX in 1574
  • King Henry of Portugal, who succeeded his grand-nephew Sebastian I in 1578
  • King Henry IV of France, who succeeded his distant cousin Henry III in 1589
  • King Charles X of Sweden, who succeeded his cousin Christina in 1654
  • King Pedro II of Portugal, who succeeded his brother Afonso VI in 1683
  • King James II of England, who succeeded his brother Charles II in 1685
  • King Charles III of Hungary, who succeeded his brother Joseph I in 1711
  • King George I of Great Britain, who succeeded his cousin Anne in 1714
  • Queen Maria Theresa of Hungary, who succeeded her father Charles III in 1740
  • King Charles III of Spain, who succeeded his half-brother Ferdinand VI in 1759
  • Queen Maria I of Portugal, who succeeded her father Joseph I in 1777
  • King Frederick William II of Prussia, who succeeded his uncle Frederick the Great in 1786
  • King Leopold II of Hungary, who succeeded his brother Joseph II in 1790
  • King Victor Emmanuel I of Sardinia, who succeeded his brother Charles Emmanuel IV in 1802
  • King Charles Felix of Sardinia, who succeeded his brother Victor Emmanuel I in 1821
  • King Charles X of France, who succeeded his brother Louis XVIII in 1824
  • Emperor Nicholas I of Russia, who succeeded his brother Alexander I in 1825
  • King Anthony of Saxony, who succeeded his brother Frederick Augustus I in 1827
  • King William IV of the United Kingdom, who succeeded his brother George IV in 1830
  • King Charles Albert of Sardinia, who succeeded his cousin Charles Felix in 1831
  • Queen Isabella II of Spain, who succeeded her father Ferdinand VII in 1833
  • King Frederick Augustus II of Saxony, who succeeded his uncle Anthony in 1836
  • Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, who succeeded her uncle William IV in 1837
  • King Ernest Augustus I of Hanover, who succeeded his brother William IV in 1837
  • King Christian VIII of Denmark, who succeeded his cousin Frederick VI in 1839
  • King John of Saxony, who succeeded his brother Frederick Augustus II in 1854
  • King William I of Prussia, who succeeded his brother Frederick William IV in 1861
  • King Christian IX of Denmark, who succeeded his cousin Frederick VII in 1863
  • King Oscar II of Sweden, who succeeded his brother Charles XV in 1872
  • King Otto of Bavaria, who succeeded his brother Ludwig II in 1886
  • Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, who succeeded her father William III in 1890
  • Grand Duke Adolphe of Luxembourg, who succeeded his distant cousin William III in 1890
  • King William II of Württemberg, who succeeded his uncle Charles I in 1891
  • King George of Saxony, who succeeded his brother Albert in 1902
  • Albert I, King of the Belgians, who succeeded his uncle Leopold II in 1909
  • Grand Duchess Marie-Adélaïde of Luxembourg, who succeeded her father Guillaume IV in 1912
  • King Ludwig III of Bavaria, who succeeded his cousin Otto in 1913
  • King Ferdinand I of Romania, who succeeded his uncle Carol I in 1914
  • Emperor Charles I of Austria, who succeeded his grand-uncle Francis Joseph I in 1916
  • Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg, who succeeded her sister Marie-Adélaïde in 1919
  • King Prajadhipok Rama VII of Thailand, who succeeded his brother Vajiravudh Rama VI in 1925
  • King Ananda Rama VIII of Thailand, who succeeded his uncle Prajadhipok in 1935
  • King George VI of the United Kingdom, who succeeded his brother Edward VIII in 1936
  • King Bhumibol Rama IX of Thailand, who succeeded his brother King Ananda Rama VIII in 1946
  • King Paul of Greece, who succeeded his brother George II in 1947
  • Queen Juliana of the Netherlands, who succeeded her mother Wilhelmina in 1948
  • Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, who succeeded her father George VI in 1952
  • Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, who succeeded her father Frederick IX in 1972
  • Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, who succeeded her mother Juliana in 1980
  • Albert II, King of the Belgians, who succeeded his brother Baudouin I in 1993

Examples of heirs presumptive who did not inherit thrones[]

  • Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany was heir presumptive of the United Kingdom from 1820 to 1827, when he died three years before his older brother, George IV.
  • Prince Bertil, Duke of Halland was heir-presumptive of Sweden between 1973 and 1979, until the birth of Carl Philip, Duke of Värmland, who superseded him.
  • Princess Caroline of Orange-Nassau, first child of Willem IV of Orange, was heir presumptive until the birth of her brother Willem V.
  • Prince Philippe, Count of Flanders was the heir presumptive of his older brother king Leopold II of Belgium after the death of his nephew Prince Leopold, Duke of Brabant until his own death in 1905.
  • Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was the heir presumptive of his uncle Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria until his assassination in Sarajevo.
  • Prince Knud of Denmark was the heir presumptive of his brother King Frederick IX of Denmark, but an amendment to the Danish Constitution in 1953 proclaimed King Frederick's eldest daughter Princess Margrethe as the future heir presumptive.

Example in film[]

In the Disney animated film The Lion King, Scar is the heir presumptive of the Pride Lands, his inheritance being displaced by the birth of Simba, the heir apparent, thus sparking the entire plot of the film.

See also[]

  • Monarchy
  • Constitutional Monarchy
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