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| European imperial, royal, noble,|
gentry and chivalric ranks
in Western culture
|Emperor / Empress / King-Emperor / Queen-Empress / Kaiser / Tsar|
|High king / High queen / Great king / Great queen|
|King / Queen|
|Archduke / Archduchess / Tsesarevich|
| Grand prince / Grand princess |
Grand duke / Grand duchess
|Prince-elector / Prince / Princess / Crown prince / Crown princess / Foreign prince / Prince du sang / Infante / Infanta / Dauphin / Dauphine / Królewicz / Królewna / Jarl|
|Duke / Duchess / Herzog / Knyaz / Princely count|
| Sovereign prince / Sovereign princess |
/ Fürst / Fürstin / Boyar
| Marquess /Marquis / Marchioness /|
Margrave / Landgrave / Marcher Lord
/ Count palatine
|Count / Countess / Earl / Graf / Châtelain / Castellan / Burgrave|
|Viscount / Viscountess / Vidame|
|Baron / Baroness / Freiherr / Advocatus / Lord of Parliament / Thane / Lendmann|
|Baronet / Baronetess / Scottish Feudal Baron / Scottish Feudal Baroness / Ritter / Imperial Knight|
|Eques / Knight / Chevalier / Ridder / Lady / Dame / Edelfrei / Seigneur / Lord|
|Gentleman / Gentry / Esquire / Laird / Edler / Jonkheer / Junker / Younger / Maid|
A royal family is the immediate family of a Kings, Queen regnant, Emirs, or Sultans, 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.
A royal family typically includes the spouse of the reigning monarch, surviving spouses of a deceased monarch, the children, grandchildren, brothers, sisters, and paternal cousins of the reigning monarch, as well as their spouses. In some cases, royal family membership may extend to great grandchildren and more distant descendants of a monarch. In certain monarchies where voluntary abdication is the norm, such as the Netherlands, a royal family may also include one or more former monarchs. In certain instances, such as in Canada, the royal family is defined by who holds the styles Majesty and Royal Highness.There is often a distinction between persons of the blood royal and those that marry into the royal family. Under most systems, only persons in the first category are dynasts, that is, potential successors to the throne (unless the member of the latter category is also in line to the throne in their own right, a frequent occurrence in royal families which frequently intermarry). This is not always observed; some monarchies have operated by the principle of jure uxoris .
In addition, certain relatives of the monarch (by blood or marriage) possess special privileges and are subject to certain statutes, conventions, or special common law. The precise functions of a royal family vary depending on whether the polity in question is an absolute monarchy, a constitutional monarchy, or somewhere in between. In certain monarchies, such as that found in Saudi Arabia or Kuwait, or in political systems where the monarch actually exercises executive power, such as in Jordan, it is not uncommon for the members of a royal family to hold important government posts or military commands. In most constitutional monarchies, however, members of a royal family perform certain public, social, or ceremonial functions, but refrain from any involvement in electoral politics or the actual governance of the country.
The specific composition of royal families varies from country to country, as do the titles and royal and noble styles held by members of the family. The composition of the royal family may be regulated by statute enacted by the legislature (e.g., Spain, the Netherlands, and Japan since 1947), the sovereign's prerogative and common law tradition (e.g., the United Kingdom), or a private house law (e.g., Liechtenstein, the former ruling houses of Bavaria, Prussia, Hanover, etc.). Public statutes, constitutional provisions, or conventions may also regulate the marriages, names, and personal titles of royal family members. The members of a royal family may or may not have a surname or dynastic name (see Royal House).
In a constitutional monarchy, when the monarch dies, there is always a law or tradition of succession to the throne that either specifies a formula for identifying the precise order of succession among family members in line to the throne or specifies a process by which a family member is chosen to inherit the crown. Usually in the former case the exact line of hereditary succession among royal individuals may be identified at any given moment during prior reigns (e.g. United Kingdom, Sark, Nizari Ismailis, Japan, Balobedus, Sweden, Kingdom of Benin) whereas in the latter case the next sovereign may be selected (or changed) only during the reign or shortly after the demise of the immediately preceding monarch (e.g. Cambodia, KwaZulu Natal, Buganda, Saudi Arabia, Swaziland, Yorubaland, The Kingitanga). Some monarchies employ a mix of these selection processes (Malaysia, Monaco, Tonga, Jordan, Morocco), providing for both an identifiable line of succession as well as authority for the monarch, dynasty or other institution to alter the line in specific instances without changing the general law of succession. Some countries have abolished royalty altogether, as in post-revolutionary France (finally in 1870) and Russia (1917).
Whilst mediatization occurred in other countries such as France, Italy and Russia, only the certain houses within the former Holy Roman Empire are collectively called the Mediatized Houses.
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. Usually 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.
A monarchy is a form of government in which a person, the monarch, is head of state for life or until abdication. The legitimation and governing power of the monarch may vary from purely symbolic, to restricted, to fully autocratic, combining executive, legislative and judicial power.
The House of Romanov was the reigning royal house of Russia from 1613 to 1917.
Morganatic marriage, sometimes called a left-handed marriage, is a marriage between people of unequal social rank, which in the context of royalty prevents the husband's titles and privileges being passed on to the wife and/or any children born of the marriage.
A prince is a male ruler 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, meaning "the chief, most distinguished, ruler, prince".
Christian IX was King of Denmark from 1863 until his death in 1906. From 1863 to 1864, he was concurrently Duke of Schleswig, Holstein and Lauenburg.
A dynasty is a sequence of rulers from the same family, usually in the context of a feudal or monarchical system, but sometimes also appearing in elective republics. Alternative terms for "dynasty" may include "house", "family" and "clan", among others. The longest-surviving dynasty in the world is the Imperial House of Japan, otherwise known as the Yamato dynasty, whose reign is traditionally dated to 660 BC.
An elective monarchy is a monarchy ruled by an elected monarch, in contrast to a hereditary monarchy in which the office is automatically passed down as a family inheritance. The manner of election, the nature of candidate qualifications, and the electors vary from case to case. Historically it is not uncommon for elective monarchies to transform into hereditary ones over time, or for hereditary ones to acquire at least occasional elective aspects.
The House of Glücksburg, shortened from House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, is a Dano-German branch of the House of Oldenburg, members of which have reigned at various times in Denmark, Norway, Greece and several northern German states.
Holstein-Gottorp or Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorp is the historiographical name, as well as contemporary shorthand name, for the parts of the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein, also known as Ducal Holstein, that were ruled by the dukes of Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorp. Other parts of the duchies were ruled by the kings of Denmark.
The House of Oldenburg is a European dynasty of North German origin. It is one of Europe's most influential royal houses, with branches that rule or have ruled in Denmark, Iceland, Greece, Norway, Russia, Sweden, Schleswig, Holstein, and Oldenburg. The current Queen of Denmark and King of Norway, the former King of Greece, the consort of the monarch of the United Kingdom, as well as the first fourteen persons in the line of succession to the British throne, are all patrilineal members of the Glücksburg branch of this house.
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.
Duke Charles Frederick of Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorp was a Prince of Sweden and Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorp and an important member of European royalty. His dynasty, the Dukes of Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorp, were a cadet branch of the ancient House of Oldenburg, which at that time was ruling Denmark. His mother was a sister of Charles XII of Sweden. Charles Frederick married a daughter of Peter the Great and became the father of the future Peter III of Russia. As such, he is the progenitor of the Russian imperial house of Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov and the patrilineal ancestor of all Russian emperors starting with Peter III, except for Catherine II.
The Danish royal family is the dynastic family of the monarch. All members of the Danish royal family except Queen Margrethe II hold the title of Prince/Princess of Denmark. Dynastic children of the monarch and of the heir apparent are accorded the style of His/Her Royal Highness, while other members of the dynasty are addressed as His/Her Highness. The Queen is styled Her Majesty.
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.
An order of succession or right of succession is the sequence of those entitled to hold a high office such as head of state or an honor such as a title of nobility in the order in which they stand in line to it when it becomes vacated. This sequence may be regulated through descent or by statute.
The Monarchy of Denmark, colloquially known as the Danish Monarchy, is a constitutional institution and a historic office of the Kingdom of Denmark. The Kingdom includes Denmark, as well as the autonomous regions of Greenland and the Faroe Islands. The Kingdom of Denmark was already consolidated in the 8th century, whose rulers are consistently referred to in Frankish sources as "kings". Under the rule of King Gudfred in 803 the Kingdom may have included all the major provinces of medieval Denmark. The current unified Kingdom of Denmark was founded or re-united by the Viking kings Gorm the Old and Harald Bluetooth in the 10th century. Originally an elective monarchy, it became hereditary only in the 17th century during the reign of Frederick III. A decisive transition to a constitutional monarchy occurred in 1849 with the writing of the first Constitution. The current Royal House is a branch of the princely family of Glücksburg, originally from Schleswig-Holstein in modern-day Germany, the same royal house as the Norwegian and former Greek royal families.