I've got 3 princes in my story. Their father the king is STILL ALIVE. Royalty & succession is set up like standard British & European systems. The eldest son (the Crown Prince) went off to war and died in battle. That made the second son the new Crown Prince, but he never married or produced an heir and loved partying so much that he was pushed away from the throne. (If a Crown Prince can abdicate his duties, then that's what he did). The third son has since been named the Crown Prince...and shortly after the coronation is when the eldest brother shows up out of nowhere. It turns out he was kept as a POW and was finally released.

So far they're all princes, dad (the king) is still alive. Nobody has inherited anything, nobody has been crowned the new king. The only change has been who is next in line to BECOME king when dear old dad dies.

The eldest & youngest brothers get along just fine--no conspiring for power or plotting murder! The youngest son has the strongest sense of duty to the crown while eldest brother dreams of a more normal life. The 3rd son hasn't had enough time to get married and produce an heir. I've read so much on royal families and watched every TV show on royal families but I still can't imagine how things might change for the new Crown Prince now that his oldest brother has turned up alive and is able to carry out his royal duties.

Would the eldest son automatically go back to being the Crown Prince? Would the youngest son have to sit tight now that he's officially been declared the Crown Prince?

Would love to hear what you think, along with any examples from history that I've somehow missed!!!

  • $\begingroup$ I think it'd depend on your kingdom's culture, to be honest. If the people support one royal more than the other, it might create conflict, otherwise I'm pretty sure they'd be okay with whoever wants to take the throne. Either way, this question seems kinda broad for WB, and might be better discussed in our chat or History's chat, since you're looking for ideas more than a concrete answer, it seems. $\endgroup$ – Pleiades Dec 30 '17 at 8:14
  • $\begingroup$ Ooh, I'll try posting in the history chat...once I figure out where it is!! $\endgroup$ – Paperback Writer Dec 30 '17 at 8:15
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    $\begingroup$ @dot_Sp0T Related might be a better call instead of duplicate. $\endgroup$ – a4android Dec 30 '17 at 8:55
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    $\begingroup$ As far as I know, "crown prince" (or, in England, "heir apparent" to the throne) is not a legal position as such, but rather a descriptive situation. For example, in England the heir apparent does not hold the position of Heir Apparent, but that of Duke of Wales. I don't know whether the Dauphin de France was a legal position or if it was just a description of the current situation. Specific rules of succession are important. For example, in England a king's daughter could never be heir apparent (only heir presumptive), because her father could always sire a boy to take precedence. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Dec 30 '17 at 9:06
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    $\begingroup$ dot_Sp0T, Separatrix, Tim B, L.Dutch, Mołot, this isn't a duplicate question because in the earlier example you cited, that king is dead and a new one was already crowned king. In my question, the king is NOT dead, I'm asking who's next in line. I tried this in History & apparently they don't like hypothetical questions. $\endgroup$ – Paperback Writer Dec 30 '17 at 15:36

A very similar question was posted here a while back.

The basic answer is: once you figure out what this country's succession law is, you'll have the answer to your question! (And it may well be that this country has no succession law that will neatly answer this question! So much the better.)

I would ask you to clarify the history: I am assuming that the father has died and the second brother was crowned king and subsequently abdicated in favour of the third son who has now been crowned and is the reigning monarch.

Since the eldest brother has long been thought dead, I would think he basically disappears from the line of succession, and so do any of his children. You seem to indicate that the second brother succeeded to the throne and thereafter abdicated in favour of the youngest brother. (This is exactly what happened between Edward VIII and George VI, only there was no brother older than them waiting in the shadows.) Now that the youngest brother is king, the line of succession proceeds from him.

I think it's all well and good that the brothers get along so well, but that doesn't mean other factions in this country won't rally around the "legitimate" heir. Especially if the new king starts to botch things up. Your situation is almost a perfect setting for a big old civil war / war of succession which could involve forces and powers far distant from your capital city! And what's more, you've got space for extra factions, what with the affable former king and the recently returned war hero. Throw into the mix the eldest brother's heir and you've got enough strife and intrigue for a whole string of novels!


EDIT: So the above answers the original question where it seemed that the middle son had in fact been crowned and abdicated in favour of the youngest.

Anyway, to amend, I believe that if the reigning monarch (the father) is still alive, and the eldest son (the heir apparent) is presumed dead, the second son will simply fill that role, party boy or not. (As I recall, George IV was just a bit of a party animal, so the middle son's love of entertainment will not keep him from the throne.) The not quite dead heir apparent, upon his return and acceptance by the royal House and the Government will simply resume his duties.

The third son, contrary to what happens in folklore, is pretty much a dead letter. The heir is back in place; the spare has done his bit for king and country. The third can go off and become a bishop or something.

  • $\begingroup$ No, the father isn't dead. None of the 3 sons has married or produced any heirs of any sort. The eldest brother was assumed dead, 2nd brother declared Crown Prince = next in line to the throne. I used the word abdicate which may have made this confusing. Can you abdicate being a crown prince when you have a little brother who will carry out the task? $\endgroup$ – Paperback Writer Dec 30 '17 at 8:36
  • $\begingroup$ Okeh, thanks for the clarification! The question as originally stated was a bit confusing at certain points. The situation as I understand it now is simply that the eldest son and true heir apparent has returned: once accepted and acclaimed by the head of the royal House (the king) and perhaps by Parliament or the Council, he simply resumes whatever duties are proper to that role in your country. The middle son, of course, can not "abdicate" the role of heir apparent, but he's now off the hook anyway. Sad really: just my opinion, but this situation really offers very meager plot interest. :( $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Dec 30 '17 at 18:21
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks so much for the extra info and help! Totally agree with you about no drama=meager plot. But it works for my genre, and maybe I'll apply some of your earlier ideas about unhappy factions and civil war later down the line. :) We can mark this as closed whenever people want...I'm not sure if I can do that or not. $\endgroup$ – Paperback Writer Dec 30 '17 at 20:40

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