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| Imperial, royal, noble,|
gentry and chivalric ranks
|Emperor / Empress|
|King / Queen|
|Archduke / Archduchess|
| Grand prince / Grand princess |
Grand duke / Grand duchess
|Prince / Princess / Infante / Infanta / Królewicz / Królewna|
|Duke / Duchess|
| Sovereign prince / Sovereign princess |
/ Fürst / Fürstin
| Marquess /Marquis / Marchioness /|
Margrave / Landgrave /
|Count / Countess / Earl / Châtelain / Castellan|
| Viscount / Viscountess / Vidame / |
|Baron / Baroness|
|Baronet / Baronetess|
|Knight / Chevalier / Ritter / Ridder / Lady / Dame|
|Gentleman / Gentry / Esquire / Laird / Edler / Jonkheer / Junker / Younger / Maid|
A prince is a male ruler ranked below a king and above a duke or member of a monarch's or former monarch's family. Prince is also a title of nobility, often hereditary, in some European states. The feminine equivalent is a princess. The English word derives, via the French word prince, from the Latin noun princeps , from primus (first) and capio (to seize), meaning "the chief, most distinguished, ruler, prince".
A monarch is a sovereign head of state in a monarchy. A monarch may exercise the highest authority and power in the state, or others may wield that power on behalf of the monarch. Typically a monarch either personally inherits the lawful right to exercise the state's sovereign rights or is selected by an established process from a family or cohort eligible to provide the nation's monarch. Alternatively, an individual may become monarch by conquest, acclamation or a combination of means. A monarch usually reigns for life or until abdication.
King, or king regnant is the title given to a male monarch in a variety of contexts. The female equivalent is queen regnant, while the title of queen on its own usually refers to the consort of a king.
A duke (male) or duchess (female) can either be a monarch ruling over a duchy or a member of royalty or nobility, historically of highest rank below the monarch. The title comes from French duc, itself from the Latin dux, 'leader', a term used in republican Rome to refer to a military commander without an official rank, and later coming to mean the leading military commander of a province.
The Latin word prīnceps (older Latin *prīsmo-kaps, literally "the one who takes the first [place/position]"), became the usual title of the informal leader of the Roman senate some centuries before the transition to empire, the princeps senatus .
Latin is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. The Latin alphabet is derived from the Etruscan and Greek alphabets, and ultimately from the Phoenician alphabet.
The Roman Empire was the post-Roman Republic period of the ancient Roman civilization. An Iron Age civilization, it had a government headed by emperors and large territorial holdings around the Mediterranean Sea in Europe, North Africa, and West Asia. From the constitutional reforms of Augustus to the military anarchy of the third century, the Empire was a principate ruled from the city of Rome. The Roman Empire was then divided between a Western Roman Empire, based in Milan and later Ravenna, and an Eastern Roman Empire, based in Nicomedia and later Constantinople, and it was ruled by multiple emperors.
The princeps senatus was the first member by precedence of the Roman Senate. Although officially out of the cursus honorum and owning no imperium, this office brought conferred prestige on the senator holding it.
Emperor Augustus established the formal position of monarch on the basis of principate , not dominion . He also tasked his grandsons as summer rulers of the city when most of the government were on holiday in the country or attending religious rituals, and, for that task, granted them the title of princeps.
The Principate is the name sometimes given to the first period of the Roman Empire from the beginning of the reign of Augustus in 27 BC to the end of the Crisis of the Third Century in 284 AD, after which it evolved into the so-called Dominate.
The Dominate or late Roman Empire is the name sometimes given to the "despotic" later phase of imperial government, following the earlier period known as the "Principate", in the ancient Roman Empire. This phase is more often called the Tetrarchy at least until 313 when the empire was reunited.
The title has generic and substantive meanings:
A monarchy is a form of government in which a group, generally a group of people comprising a dynasty, embodies the country's national identity and its head, the monarch, exercises the role of sovereign. The power of the monarch may vary from purely symbolic, to partial and restricted, to completely autocratic. In most cases the monarch's position is inherited and lasts until death or abdication. In contrast, elective monarchies require the monarch to be elected. Both types have further variations as there are widely divergent structures and traditions defining monarchy. For example, in some elected monarchies family history is the only criterion for eligibility to be monarch, whereas many hereditary monarchies impose requirements regarding the religion, age, gender, or mental capacity. Occasionally this can result in more than one rival claimants, whose legitimacy is subject to election. There have been cases where the term of a monarch's reign either is fixed in years or continues until certain conditions are satisfied: an invasion being repulsed, for instance.
In genealogy, a cadet is a younger son, as opposed to the firstborn heir. Compare puisne.
A substantive title is a title of nobility or royalty acquired either by individual grant or inheritance. It is to be distinguished from a title shared among cadets, borne as a courtesy title by a peer's relatives, or acquired through marriage.
The original, but now less common use of the word, originated in the application of the Latin word princeps , from late Roman law, and the classical system of government that eventually gave way to the European feudal society. In this sense, a prince is a ruler of a territory which is sovereign, or quasi-sovereign, i.e., exercising substantial (though not all) prerogatives associated with monarchs of independent nations, such as the immediate states within the historical boundaries of the Holy Roman Empire. In medieval and Early Modern Europe, there were as many as two hundred such territories, especially in Italy, Germany, and Gaelic Ireland. In this sense, "prince" is used of any and all rulers, regardless of actual title or precise rank. This is the Renaissance use of the term found in Niccolò Machiavelli's famous work, Il Principe .
The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire and Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople. It survived the fragmentation and fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD and continued to exist for an additional thousand years until it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. During most of its existence, the empire was the most powerful economic, cultural, and military force in Europe. Both the terms "Byzantine Empire" and "Eastern Roman Empire" are historiographical exonyms; its citizens continued to refer to their empire simply as the Roman Empire, or Romania (Ῥωμανία), and to themselves as "Romans".
Law is a system of rules that are created and enforced through social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior. It has been defined both as "the Science of Justice" and "the Art of Justice". Law is a system that regulates and ensures that individuals or a community adhere to the will of the state. State-enforced laws can be made by a collective legislature or by a single legislator, resulting in statutes, by the executive through decrees and regulations, or established by judges through precedent, normally in common law jurisdictions. Private individuals can create legally binding contracts, including arbitration agreements that may elect to accept alternative arbitration to the normal court process. The formation of laws themselves may be influenced by a constitution, written or tacit, and the rights encoded therein. The law shapes politics, economics, history and society in various ways and serves as a mediator of relations between people.
Feudalism was a combination of legal and military customs in medieval Europe that flourished between the 9th and 15th centuries. Broadly defined, it was a way of structuring society around relationships derived from the holding of land in exchange for service or labour. Although derived from the Latin word feodum or feudum (fief), then in use, the term feudalism and the system it describes were not conceived of as a formal political system by the people living in the Middle Ages. In its classic definition, by François-Louis Ganshof (1944), feudalism describes a set of reciprocal legal and military obligations among the warrior nobility revolving around the three key concepts of lords, vassals and fiefs.
As a title, by the end of the medieval era, prince was borne by rulers of territories that were either substantially smaller than or exercised fewer of the rights of sovereignty than did emperors and kings. A lord of even a quite small territory might come to be referred to as a prince before the 13th century, either from translations of a native title into the Latin princeps (as for the hereditary ruler of Wales), or when the lord's territory was allodial. The lord of an allodium owned his lands and exercised prerogatives over the subjects in his territory absolutely, owing no feudal homage or duty as a vassal to a liege lord, nor being subject to any higher jurisdiction. Most small territories designated as principalities during feudal eras were allodial, e.g. the Princedom of Dombes.
Lord is an appellation for a person or deity who has authority, control, or power over others acting like a master, a chief, or a ruler. The appellation can also denote certain persons who hold a title of the peerage in the United Kingdom, or are entitled to courtesy titles. The collective "Lords" can refer to a group or body of peers.
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain. It is bordered by England to the east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, and the Bristol Channel to the south. It had a population in 2011 of 3,063,456 and has a total area of 20,779 km2 (8,023 sq mi). Wales has over 1,680 miles (2,700 km) of coastline and is largely mountainous, with its higher peaks in the north and central areas, including Snowdon, its highest summit. The country lies within the north temperate zone and has a changeable, maritime climate.
Allodial title constitutes ownership of real property that is independent of any superior landlord. Allodial title is related to the concept of land held "in allodium", or land ownership by occupancy and defense of the land. Historically, much of land was uninhabited and could, therefore, be held "in allodium".
Lords who exercised lawful authority over territories and people within a feudal hierarchy were also sometimes regarded as princes in the general sense, especially if they held the rank of count or higher. This is attested in some surviving styles for e.g., British earls, marquesses, and dukes are still addressed by the Crown on ceremonial occasions as high and noble princes (cf. Royal and noble styles).
In parts of the Holy Roman Empire in which primogeniture did not prevail (e.g., Germany), all legitimate agnates had an equal right to the family's hereditary titles. While this meant that offices, such as emperor, king, and elector could only be legally occupied by one dynast at a time, holders of such other titles as duke, margrave, landgrave, count palatine, and prince could only differentiate themselves by adding the name of their appanage to the family's original title. Not only did this tend to proliferate unwieldy titles (e.g. Princess Katherine of Anhalt-Zerbst, or Karl, Count Palatine of Zweibrücken-Neukastell-Kleeburg, or Prince Christian Charles of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Plön-Norburg), but as agnatic primogeniture gradually became the norm in the Holy Roman Empire by the end of the 18th century, another means of distinguishing the monarch from other members of his dynasty became necessary. Gradual substitution of the title of Prinz for the monarch's title of Fürst occurred, and became customary for cadets in all German dynasties except in the grand duchies of Mecklenburg and Oldenburg.Both Prinz and Fürst are translated into English as "prince", but they reflect not only different but mutually exclusive concepts.
This distinction had evolved before the 18th century (Liechtenstein long remained an exception, cadets and females using Fürst/Fürstin into the 19th century) for dynasties headed by a Fürst in Germany. The custom spread through the Continent to such an extent that a renowned imperial general who belonged to a cadet branch of a reigning ducal family, remains best known to history by the generic dynastic title, "Prince Eugene of Savoy". Note that the princely title was used as a prefix to his Christian name, which also became customary.
Cadets of France's other princes étrangers affected similar usage under the Bourbon kings. Always facing the scepticism of Saint-Simon and like-minded courtiers, these quasi-royal aristocrats' assumption of the princely title as a personal, rather than territorial, designation encountered some resistance. In writing Histoire Genealogique et Chonologique, Père Anselme accepts that, by the end of the 17th century, the heir apparent to the House of La Tour d'Auvergne's sovereign duchy bears the title, prince de Bouillon, but he would record in 1728 that the heir's La Tour cousin, the Count of Oliergues, is "known as the Prince Frederick" ("dit le prince Frédéric").
The post-medieval rank of gefürsteter Graf (princely count) embraced but elevated the German equivalent of the intermediate French, English and Spanish nobles. In the Holy Roman Empire, these nobles rose to dynastic status by preserving from the Imperial crown ( de jure after the Peace of Westphalia in 1648) the exercise of such sovereign prerogatives as the minting of money; the muster of military troops and the right to wage war and contract treaties; local judicial authority and constabular enforcement; and the habit of inter-marrying with sovereign dynasties. By the 19th century, cadets of a Fürst would become known as Prinzen.
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The husband of a queen regnant is usually titled "prince consort" or simply "prince", whereas the wives of male monarchs take the female equivalent (e.g., empress, queen) of their husband's title. In Brazil, Portugal and Spain, however, the husband of a female monarch was accorded the masculine equivalent of her title (e.g., emperor, king), at least after he fathered her heir. In previous epochs, husbands of queens regnant were often deemed entitled to the crown matrimonial, sharing their consorts' regnal title and rank jure uxoris ,
However, in cultures which allow the ruler to have several wives (e.g., four in Islam) or official concubines (e.g., Imperial China, Ottoman Empire, Thailand, KwaZulu-Natal) these women, sometimes collectively referred to as a harem, there are often specific rules determining their relative hierarchy and a variety of titles, which may distinguish between those whose offspring can be in line for the succession or not, or specifically who is mother to the heir to the throne.
To complicate matters, the style His/Her (Imperial/Royal) Highness, a prefix often accompanying the title of a dynastic prince, may be awarded/withheld separately (as a compromise or consolation prize, in some sense, e.g., Duke of Cádiz, Duchess of Windsor, Princesse de Réthy, Prince d'Orléans-Braganza).
Although the arrangement set out above is the one that is most commonly understood, there are also different systems. Depending on country, epoch, and translation, other usages of "prince" are possible.
Foreign-language titles such as Italian principe, French prince, German Fürst and Prinz (non-reigning descendants of a reigning monarch),Russian knyaz , etc., are usually translated as "prince" in English.
Some princely titles are derived from those of national rulers, such as tsarevich from tsar. Other examples are (e)mirza(da), khanzada, nawabzada, sahibzada, shahzada, sultanzada (all using the Persian patronymic suffix -zada, meaning "son, descendant"). However, some princely titles develop in unusual ways, such as adoption of a style for dynasts which is not pegged to the ruler's title, but rather continues an old tradition (e.g., "grand duke" in Romanov Russia or "archduke" in Habsburg Austria), claims dynastic succession to a lost monarchy (e.g. prince de Tarente for the La Trémoïlle heirs to the Neapolitan throne), or descends from a ruler whose princely title or sovereign status was not, de jure, hereditary, but attributed to descendants as an international courtesy, (e.g., Bibesco, Poniatowski, Ypsilanti).
In some dynasties, a specific style other than prince has become customary for dynasts, such as fils de France in the House of Capet, and Infante . Infante was borne by children of the monarch other than the heir apparent in all of the Iberian monarchies. Some monarchies used a specific princely title for their heirs, such as Prince of Asturias in Spain and Prince of Brazil in Portugal.
Sometimes a specific title is commonly used by various dynasties in a region, e.g. Mian in various of the Punjabi princely Hill States (lower Himalayan region in British India).
European dynasties usually awarded appanages to princes of the blood, typically attached to a feudal noble title, such as Prince of Orange in the Netherlands, Britain's royal dukes, the Dauphin in France, the Count of Flanders in Belgium, and the Count of Syracuse in Sicily. Sometimes appanage titles were princely, e.g. Prince of Achaia (Courtenay), prince de Condé (Bourbon), Prince of Carignan (Savoy), but it was the fact that their owners were of princely rank rather than that they held a princely title which was the source of their pre-eminence.
For the often specific terminology concerning an heir apparent, see Crown prince.
Other princes derive their title not from dynastic membership as such, but from inheritance of a title named for a specific and historical territory. The family's possession of prerogatives or properties in that territory might be long past. Such were most of the "princedoms" of France's ancien régime , so resented for their pretentiousness in the memoirs of Saint-Simon. These included the princedoms of Arches-Charleville, Boisbelle-Henrichemont, Chalais, Château-Regnault, Guéménée, Martigues, Mercœur, Sedan, Talmond, Tingrey, and the "kingship" of Yvetot,among others.
A prince or princess who is the head of state of a territory that has a monarchy as a form of government is a reigning prince.
The current princely monarchies include:
In the same tradition, some self-proclaimed monarchs of so-called micronations style themselves as princes:
Various monarchies provide for different modes in which princes of the dynasty can temporarily or permanently share in the style and / or office of the monarch, e.g. as regent or viceroy.
Though these offices may not be reserved legally for members of the ruling dynasty, in some traditions they are filled by dynasts, a fact which may be reflected in the style of the office, e.g. "prince-president" for Napoleon III as French head of state but not yet emperor, or "prince-lieutenant" in Luxembourg, repeatedly filled by the crown prince before the grand duke's abdication, or in form of consortium imperii .
Some monarchies even have a practice in which the monarch can formally abdicate in favor of his heir, and yet retain a kingly title with executive power, e.g. Maha Upayuvaraja (Sanskrit for Great Joint King in Cambodia), though sometimes also conferred on powerful regents who exercised executive powers.
In several countries of the European continent, such as France, prince can be an aristocratic title of someone having a high rank of nobility or as lord of a significant fief, but not ruling any actual territory and without any necessary link to the royal family, which makes it difficult to compare with the British system of royal princes.
France and the Holy Roman Empire
The kings of France started to bestow the style of prince, as a title among the nobility, from the 16th century onwards. These titles were created by elevating a seigneurie to the nominal status of a principality—although prerogatives of sovereignty were never conceded in the letters patent. Princely titles self-assumed by the princes du sang and by the princes étrangers were generally tolerated by the king and used at the royal court, outside the Parlement of Paris. These titles held no official place in the hierarchy of the nobility, but were often treated as ranking just below ducal peerages, since they were often inherited (or assumed) by ducal heirs:
This can even occur in a monarchy within which an identical but real and substantive feudal title exists, such as Fürst in German. An example of this is:
Spain, France and Netherlands
In other cases, such titular princedoms are created in chief of an event, such as a treaty or a victory. Examples include:
Poland and Russia
In Poland specifically, the titles of prince dated either to the times before the Union of Lublin or were granted to Polish nobles by foreign monarchs, as the law in Poland forbade the king from dividing nobility by granting them hereditary titles: see The Princely Houses of Poland.
In the Russian system, knyaz , translated as "prince", is the highest degree of official nobility. Members of older dynasties, whose realms were eventually annexed to the Russian Empire, were also accorded the title of knyaz — sometimes after first being allowed to use the higher title of tsarevich (e.g. the Princes Gruzinsky and Sibirsky). The many surviving branches of the Rurik dynasty used the knyaz title before and after they yielded sovereignty to their kinsmen, the Grand Princes of Muscovy, who became Tsars and, under the House of Romanov, Emperors of Russia.
In each case, the title is followed (when available) by the female form and then (not always available, and obviously rarely applicable to a prince of the blood without a principality) the name of the territory associated with it, each separated by a slash. If a second title (or set) is also given, then that one is for a Prince of the blood, the first for a principality. Be aware that the absence of a separate title for a prince of the blood may not always mean no such title exists; alternatively, the existence of a word does not imply there is also a reality in the linguistic territory concerned; it may very well be used exclusively to render titles in other languages, regardless whether there is a historical link with any (which often means that linguistic tradition is adopted)
Etymologically, we can discern the following traditions (some languages followed a historical link, e.g. within the Holy Roman Empire, not their language family; some even fail to follow the same logic for certain other aristocratic titles):
In Belgium, France, Italy, Japan, Portugal, Russia, Spain and Hungary the title of prince has also been used as the highest title of nobility (without membership in a ruling dynasty), above the title of duke, while the same usage (then as Fürst) has occurred in Germany and Austria but then one rank below the title of duke and above count.
The above is essentially the story of European, Christian dynasties and other nobility, also 'exported' to their colonial and other overseas territories and otherwise adopted by rather westernized societies elsewhere (e.g. Haiti).
Applying these essentially western concepts, and terminology, to other cultures even when they don't do so, is common but in many respects rather dubious. Different (historical, religious...) backgrounds have also begot significantly different dynastic and nobiliary systems, which are poorly represented by the 'closest' western analogy.
It therefore makes sense to treat these per civilization.
In ancient China, the title of prince developed from being the highest title of nobility (synonymous with duke) in the Zhou Dynasty, to five grades of princes (not counting the sons and grandsons of the emperor) by the time of the fall of the Qing Dynasty.The Chinese word for prince Wang (王, literally, King) as Chinese believe the emperor Huang Di (皇帝) is the ruler of all kings. The most accurate translations of the English word "prince" are Huang Zi (皇子, lit. Son of the Emperor) or Wang Zi (王子, lit. Son of the King).
In Japan, the title Kōshaku (公爵) was used as the highest title of Kazoku (華族 Japanese modern nobility) before the present constitution. Kōshaku, however, is more commonly translated as "Duke" to avoid confusion with the following royal ranks in the Imperial Household: Shinnō (親王 literally, Prince of the Blood); Naishinnō (内親王 lit., Princess of the Blood in her own right); and Shinnōhi親王妃 lit., Princess Consort); or Ō (王 lit., Prince); Jyo-Ō (女王 lit., Princess (in her own right)); and Ōhi (王妃 lit., Princess Consort). The former is the higher title of a male member of the Imperial family while the latter is the lower.
In Joseon Dynasty, the title "Prince" was used for the king's male-line descendant. Prince translated generally into three divisions. The king's legitimate son used title daegun (대군, 大君, literally Grand Prince). A son born of a concubine and king's great-great-grand son used title gun (군, 君, lit. Prince). But the title of gun wasn't limited to royal family. Instead, it was often granted as an honorary and non-hereditory title. Presently, as noble titles are no more granted or even recognized by the people, the English word "Prince" is usually translated as wangja (왕자, 王子, lit. king's son), only rendering the usage in foreign royal families. Princes and principalities in continental Europe are almost always confused with dukes and duchies, both being translated as gong (공, 公, lit. duke) and gongguk (공국, 公國, lit. duchy).
The title 'Prince' was used for the King's son in Sinhalese generation in Sri Lanka.
See princely states for the often particular, mainly Hindu titles in former British India, including modern Pakistan, Bangladesh, Burma, and Nepal.
See Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos
See Principalia, the Sultanate of Maguindanao and the Sultanate of Sulu.
In Thailand (formerly Siam), the title of Prince was divided into three classes depending on the rank of their mothers. Those who were born of a king and had a royal mother (a queen or princess consort) are titled Chaofa Chai (Thai : เจ้าฟ้าชาย: literally, "Male Celestial Lord"). Those born of a king and a commoner, or children of Chaofas, are tilted Phra Ong Chao (พระองค์เจ้า). The children of Phra Ong Chaos are titled Mom Chao (หม่อมเจ้า), abbreviated as M.C. (or ม.จ.).
A Western model was sometimes copied by emancipated colonial regimes (e.g. Bokassa I's short-lived Central-African Empire in Napoleonic fashion). Otherwise, most of the styles for members of ruling families do not lend themselves well to English translation. Nonetheless, in general the princely style has gradually replaced the colonialist title of "chief", which does not particularly connote dynastic rank to Westerners, e.g. Swazi Royal Family and Zulu Royal Family. Nominally ministerial chiefly titles, such as the Yoruba Oloye and the Zulu InDuna , still exist as distinct titles in kingdoms all over Africa.
In states with an element of theocracy, this can affect princehood in several ways, such as the style of the ruler (e.g. with a secondary title meaning son or servant of a named divinity), but also the mode of succession (even reincarnation and recognition).
Furthermore, certain religious offices may be considered of princely rank, or imply comparable temporal rights. The Prince-Popes, Pope, Hereditary Prince-Cardinals, Cardinals, Prince-Lord Bishops, Prince Bishops, Lord Bishops, Prince-Provost, and Prince-abbots are referred to as Princes of the Church.
Also in Christianity, Jesus Christ is sometimes referred to as the Prince of Peace. [ citation needed ] Some Christian churches also believe that since all Christians, like Jesus Christ, are children of God, then they too are princes and princesses of Heaven. Saint Peter, a disciple of Jesus, is also known as the Prince of the Apostles.Other titles for Jesus Christ are Prince of Princes, Prince of the Covenant, Prince of Life, and Prince of the Kings of the Earth. Further, Satan is popularly titled the Prince of Darkness; and in the Christian faith he is also referred to as the Prince of this World and the Prince of the Power of the Air. Another title for Satan, not as common today but apparently so in approximately 30 A.D. by the Pharisees of the day, was the title Prince of the Devils. Prince of Israel, Prince of the Angels, and Prince of Light are titles given to the Archangel Michael.
A prince-bishop is a bishop who is also the civil ruler of some secular principality and sovereignty. Thus the principality or prince-bishopric ruled politically by a prince-bishop could wholly or largely overlap with his diocesan jurisdiction, since some parts of his diocese, even the city of his residence, could be exempt from his civil rule, obtaining the status of free imperial city. If the episcopal see is an archbishopric, the correct term is prince-archbishop; the equivalent in the regular (monastic) clergy is prince-abbot. A prince-bishop is usually considered an elected monarch.
Grand duke is a European hereditary title for either certain monarchs or members of certain monarchs' families. It is traditionally ranked in order of precedence below the title of emperor or king and above that of sovereign prince or sovereign duke. It is used in some current and former independent monarchies in Europe, particularly:
A principality can either be a monarchical feudatory or a sovereign state, ruled or reigned over by a monarch with the title of prince or by a monarch with another title considered to fall under the generic meaning of the term prince.
A grand duchy is a country or territory whose official head of state or ruler is a monarch bearing the title of grand duke or grand duchess.
A royal family is the immediate family of a king or queen regnant, and sometimes his or her extended family. The term imperial family appropriately describes the family of an emperor or empress, and the term papal family describes the family of a pope, while the terms baronial family, comital family, ducal family, archducal family, grand ducal family, or princely family are more appropriate to describe, respectively, the relatives of a reigning baron, count, duke, archduke, grand duke, or prince. However, in common parlance members of any family which reigns by hereditary right are often referred to as royalty or "royals." It is also customary in some circles to refer to the extended relations of a deposed monarch and his or her descendants as a royal family. A dynasty is sometimes referred to as "the House of ...". As of July 2013, there are 26 active sovereign monarchies in the world who rule or reign over 43 countries in all.
Fürst is a German word for a ruler and is also a princely title. Fürsten were, since the Middle Ages, members of the highest nobility who ruled over states of the Holy Roman Empire and later its former territories, below the ruling Kaiser (emperor) or König (king).
Knyaz or knez is a historical Slavic title, used both as a royal and noble title in different times of history and different ancient Slavic lands. It is usually translated into English as prince, duke or count, depending on specific historical context and the potentially known Latin equivalents of the title for each bearer of the name. In Latin sources the title is usually translated as comes or princeps, but the word was originally derived from the Proto-Germanic *kuningaz (king).
Traditional rank amongst European royalty, peers, and nobility is rooted in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Although they vary over time and among geographic regions, the following is a reasonably comprehensive list that provides information on both general ranks and specific differences.
The title grand prince or great prince ranked in honour below king and emperor and above a sovereign prince. It also ranked below an Archduke, although this is debatable.
Prince of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is a royal title normally granted to sons and grandsons of reigning and past British monarchs. It is also held by the Duke of Edinburgh, husband of Queen Elizabeth II. The title is granted by the reigning monarch, who is the fount of all honours, through the issuing of letters patent as an expression of the royal will.
His/Her Serene Highness is a style used today by the reigning families of Liechtenstein, Monaco, and Thailand. Until 1918, it was also associated with the princely titles of members of some German ruling and mediatised dynasties and with a few princely but non-ruling families. It was also the form of address used for cadet members of the dynasties of France, Italy, Russia and Ernestine Saxony, under their monarchies. Additionally, the treatment was granted for some, but not all, princely yet non-reigning families of Bohemia, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Romania and Russia by emperors or popes. In a handful of rare cases, it was employed by non-royal rulers in viceregal or even republican contexts.
Infante, also anglicised as Infant or translated as Prince, is the title and rank given in the Iberian kingdoms of Spain and Portugal to the sons and daughters (infantas) of the king, regardless of age, sometimes with the exception of the [male] heir apparent to the throne who usually bears a unique princely or ducal title. The wife of a male infante was accorded the title of infanta if the marriage was dynastically approved, although since 1987 this is no longer automatically the case in Spain. Husbands of born infantas did not obtain the title of infante through marriage, although occasionally elevated to that title de gracia at the sovereign's command.
In history and heraldry, a cadet branch consists of the male-line descendants of a monarch or patriarch's younger sons (cadets). In the ruling dynasties and noble families of much of Europe and Asia, the family's major assets—realm, titles, fiefs, property and income—have historically been passed from a father to his firstborn son in what is known as primogeniture; younger sons—cadets—inherited less wealth and authority to pass to future generations of descendants.
Highness is a formal style used to address or refer to certain members of a reigning or formerly reigning dynasty. It is typically used with a possessive adjective: "His Highness", "Her Highness" (HH), "Their Highnesses", etc. Although often combined with other adjectives of honour indicating rank, such as "Imperial", "Royal" or "Serene", it may be used alone.
Prince of the Holy Roman Empire was a title attributed to a hereditary ruler, nobleman or prelate recognised as such by the Holy Roman Emperor.
Prince étranger was a high, though somewhat ambiguous, rank at the French royal court of the ancien régime.