Crown prince

A crown prince or hereditary prince is the heir apparent to the throne in a royal or imperial monarchy. The female form of the title is crown princess, which may refer either to an heiress apparent or, especially in earlier times, to the wife of the person styled crown prince.

Throngs before the Imperial Palace in Japan awaiting the appearance of Crown Prince Hirohito for the recent proclamation of his official recognition as the heir apparent to the Japanese Imperial ThroneNew York Times, 1916.

Crown prince as a descriptive term has been used throughout history for the prince who is first-in-line to a throne and is expected to succeed (i.e. the heir apparent), barring any unforeseen future event preventing this. In certain monarchies, a more specific substantive title may be accorded and become associated with the position of heir apparent (e.g. Prince of Wales in the United Kingdom or Prince of Asturias in the Kingdom of Spain). In these monarchies, the term crown prince may be used less often than the substantive title (or never).

Until the late twentieth century, no modern monarchy adopted a system whereby females would be guaranteed to succeed to the throne (i.e. absolute primogeniture). A crown princess would therefore be more likely to refer to the spouse of a crown prince. She would be styled crown princess, not in her own right but by courtesy.


The term crown prince is not used in European monarchies where the hereditary sovereign holds a title below that of king/queen or emperor/empress (such as grand duke or prince), although it is sometimes used as a synonym for heir apparent.

In Europe, where primogeniture governed succession to all monarchies except those of the Papacy and Andorra, the eldest son or (more recently) eldest child of the current monarch fills the role of crown prince or princess, depending upon whether females of the dynasty enjoy personal succession rights. Male precedence has been abolished in Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.[lower-alpha 1][lower-alpha 2] The eldest living child of a monarch is sometimes not the heir apparent or crown prince, because that position can be held by a descendant of a deceased older child who, by "right of representation", inherits the same place in the line of succession that would be held by the ancestor if he or she were still living (for example, Carl Gustaf, Duke of Jämtland was the crown prince of Sweden from 1950 to 1973, as the senior grandson by male primogeniture of King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden, although the former Prince Sigvard, Duke of Uppland was Gustaf VI Adolf's eldest living son, and Prince Bertil, Duke of Halland his eldest living dynastic son during those years).

In some monarchies, those of the Middle East for example, in which primogeniture is not the decisive factor in dynastic succession, a person may not possess the title or status of crown prince by right of birth, but may obtain (and lose) it as a result of an official designation made on some other legal or traditional basis, such as former crown prince Hassan bin Talal of Jordan.

Compare heir apparent and heir presumptive. In Scandinavian kingdoms, the heir presumptive to the crown may hold a different title from an heir apparent: hereditary prince (German: Erbprinz, French: prince héréditaire). It is also the title borne by the heir apparent of Liechtenstein, as well as the heir apparent or presumptive of Monaco. In Luxembourg, the heir apparent bears the title of hereditary grand duke (German: Erbgroßherzog, Luxembourgish: ierfgroussherzog); along with hereditary prince, it was also the title borne by the heirs apparent to the thrones of the grand duchies, sovereign duchies and principalities, and of mediatized princely families in the German monarchies abolished in 1918.

Substantive traditional titles

Many monarchies use or did use substantive titles for their heirs apparent, often of historical origin:

Some monarchies have used (although not always de jure) a territorial title for heirs apparent which, though often perceived as a crown princely title, is not automatically hereditary. It generally requires a specific conferral by the sovereign, which may be withheld.

Current and past titles in this category include:

Modern Crown Princes and Princesses

Currently, the following states use the term "crown prince" (or "crown princess") for the heirs apparent to their thrones:

  • Bahrain – Crown Prince (Wali al-Ahd) Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa
  • Belgium – Crown Princess Elisabeth, Duchess of Brabant
  • Brunei – Crown Prince (Pengiran Muda Mahkota) Al-Muhtadee Billah
  • Eswatini – (position of Crown Prince currently vacant)
  • Denmark – (Kronprins) Crown Prince Frederik, Count of Montpezat
  • JapanCrown Prince Akishino
  • Jordan – (Wali al-Ahd) Crown Prince Hussein
  • Kuwait – (Wali al-Ahd) (Crown Prince) Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah
  • Malaysia: Deputy Yang di-Pertuan Agong (Timbalan Yang di-Pertuan Agong) Nazrin Shah of Perak
    • Johor – Crown Prince (Tunku Mahkota) Tunku Ismail Idris ibni Sultan Ibrahim Ismail
    • Kedah – Crown Prince (Raja Muda) Tunku Sarafuddin Badlishah Sultan Sallehuddin
    • Kelantan – Crown Prince (Tengku Mahkota) Tengku Muhammad Faiz Petra ibni Sultan Ismail Petra
    • Negeri Sembilan – Crown Prince (Tunku Besar) Tunku Ali Redhauddin ibni Tuanku Muhriz
    • Pahang – Crown Prince (Tengku Mahkota) Tengku Hassanal Ibrahim Alam Shah ibni Al-Sultan Abdullah
    • Perak – Crown Prince (Raja Muda) Raja Jaafar ibni Raja Muda Musa
    • Perlis – Crown Prince (Raja Muda) Tuanku Syed Faizuddin Putra Jamalullail
    • Selangor – Crown Prince (Raja Muda) Tengku Amir Shah ibni Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah
    • Terengganu – Crown Prince (Yang di-Pertuan Muda) Tengku Muhammad Ismail ibni Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin
  • Morocco – Crown Prince (Wali al-Ahd) Moulay Hassan
  • Netherlands – (Prins van Oranje) Crown Princess Catharina-Amalia
  • Norway – (Kronprins) Crown Prince Haakon
  • Oman – (Wali al-Ahd)Theyazin bin Haitham, Crown Prince of Oman
  • Saudi Arabia – Crown Prince (Wali al-Ahd) Mohammed bin Salman
  • Spain - (Princesa de Asturias) Leonor, Princess of Asturias, heir presumptive
  • Sweden – (Kronprinsessa) Crown Princess Victoria, Duchess of Västergötland
  • Thailand – (position of Crown Prince currently vacant)
  • Tonga – Crown Prince Tupoutoʻa ʻUlukalala
  • United Arab Emirates: each of the constituent emirates of the U.A.E. uses the title of 'Crown Prince' for their heirs apparent:

In addition; the following heirs apparent to deposed monarchies use the title of Crown Prince as a title used by international courtesy:

Other specific traditions

  • Ancient Egypt, Prince of the Sa'id, meaning Prince of Upper Egypt
  • In Islamic tradition, the title is Wali al-Ahd.
    • In Persia (Iran), during the Pahlavi dynasty and Qajar dynasty, the full style was Vala Hazrat-i-Humayun Vali Ahd, Shahzada (given name), (in Persian: والاحضرت همایون ولایتعهد) i.e. His August Imperial Highness the Heir Apparent, Prince ...;
    • The title was adopted by many oriental monarchies, even some non-Muslim, e.g. Walet as alternative title for the Nepali (Hindu) royal heir apparent; first used Crown Prince Trailokya in the middle of the nineteenth century, taken from the Mughal title 'Vali Ahd'

Hindu tradition (Indian subcontinent):

  • Yuvaraja was part of the full title in many princely states of India, e.g.
    • in Jammu and Kashmir, the heir apparent was styled Maharaj Kumar Shri Yuvaraj (personal name) Singhji Bahadur
  • Tika
  • Nepal, where the King was styled Maharajadhiraja:
    • the heir apparent was styled: Sri Sri Sri Sri Sri Yuvarajadhiraj ('Young King of Kings', i.e. Crown Prince) (personal name) Bir Bikram Shah Deva;
    • the eldest son of the heir apparent was styled: Sri Sri Sri Sri Sri Nava Yuvaraj ('Young Crown Prince') (personal name) Bir Bikram Shah Deva

East Asian traditions:

  • The cognates of Chinese Huang Taizi (皇太子, "Great Imperial Son") – if a son of the reigning emperor, and Huang Taisun (皇太孫, Great Imperial Grandson) – if a grandson of the emperor:
if the heir apparent is a:songrandson
ChineseHuang TaiziHuang Taisun
KoreanHwangtaeja (황태자)Hwangtaeson (황태손)
VietnameseHoàng Thái TửHoàng Thái Tôn
  • The crown prince of an emperor was sometimes referred as Dong-gong (東宮, 'East Palace') due to the location of his residence from the main palace.
  • If the crown prince is the son of a king, he was called 世子 (Shizi).
  • The crown prince was not necessarily the first-born son.
  • During the Joseon Dynasty in Korea, the crown prince was often referred as Dong-gung (동궁, 東宮, 'East Palace') or wangseja (王世子 왕세자); The first-born son was called wonja (元子 원자).

Southeast Asian traditions:

Equivalents in other cultures:

See also


  1. Also, 14 other Commonwealth realms
  2. Only applicable to those born after 2011, when the Perth Agreement came into place, later reiterated by the Succession to the Crown Act 2013


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