Crown prince

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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 Throne - New York Times, 1916. Crowd awaiting Crown Prince Tokyo Dec1916.jpg
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.

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.


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:

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

Hindu tradition (Indian subcontinent):

East Asian traditions:

if the heir apparent is a:songrandson
ChineseHuang Taizi Huang Taisun
Japanese Kōtaishi Kōtaison
KoreanHwangtaeja (황태자)Hwangtaeson (황태손)
VietnameseHoàng Thái TửHoàng Thái Tôn

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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