Even in 2014, there’s something about the idea of royalty that lots of people seem to love. Whether it’s whatever political authority they have left, their lives of luxury, or just the fancy hats, the people still have a good deal of envy and admiration for the Kings and Queens of Europe.
Money and royal privilege, however, only go so far. Even the most beloved monarchs will eventually die, and along with the giant state funeral and the endless media coverage comes the question of who will assume the throne and become a symbol for the nation. That’s where we get into the idea of the order of ascension, that list of names that determines who gets picked – and in which order – to become ruler. Every monarchy in Europe has one, with the exceptions of Vatican City (yep, that’s considered a monarchy) and its secretive Pope elections, and Andorra, which has the bizarre two prince system; one appointed by the Pope, and the other? Well, whoever is President of France at the time also happens to be prince of Andorra. Of course.
So who out there are truly princes and princesses among men, ready to assume (or possibly abdicate in favour of retaining a normal-ish life) the thrones that represent the last of the European monarchies? They’re young and old, they are men, women, and children, and they’ve all been groomed for the purpose of sitting in a fabulous high chair. Here are the 10 European royals who are next in line to the throne.
10. Belgium – Princess Elisabeth, Duchess of Brabant
Belgium, land of chocolate and delicious beer, is currently headed up by King Philippe, son of King Albert II. Sworn in as ruler in 2013, he is to be succeeded as monarch of Belgium by his eldest daughter, Princess Elisabeth, Duchess of Brabant. The monarchy was established in 1831 and is determined by heredity, with all of the royals descended from the first King of Belgium, Leopold I.
Elizabeth is 12, so she’s still not doing all that royal stuff that royals typically do. But she did make a speech at the opening of a children’s hospital when she was nine. Naturally, HuffPo did an entire article on it, and offered up this translation:
“Ladies and Gentlemen, I am very happy that I can give my name to this new children’s hospital today. Together with you, I hope that many children will find help here. I know they can count on your daily commitment. The Princess Elisabeth Children’s Hospital now gets a special place in my heart.”
9. Denmark – Frederik, Crown Prince of Denmark
Along with wind power, a strong welfare system, and a passion for alcohol that would do their Viking ancestors proud, the Danes have a lot of love for their royals. Queen Margrethe is the current big cheese, and the popular ruler is set to be succeeded by her equally popular son, Frederik, and his Australian wife, Mary.
Theirs is a true fairy tale story. They met at the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000, eventually moving to Paris, and then on to Denmark. After their engagement was announced, Mary addressed Denmark in Danish, which is a pretty incredible feat considering the language is described as being like trying to speak with a potato in your mouth. The two now have four children.
8. Liechtenstein – Hereditary Prince Alois
Liechtenstein is this tiny little country wedged between Switzerland and Austria. It’s that place you can rent for $70,000 per night – you’ll probably have to return it in the same condition you got it – and also happens to have the second-highest GDP per capita, at $89,400.
The current ruler is technically Prince Hans-Adam II, but he has turned over the duties of royal office to his heir, Hereditary Prince Alois. Alois has been serving as the national and international head of Liechtenstein since 2004, meaning he has already all but assumed the throne.
7. Luxembourg – Guillaume, Hereditary Grand Duke
Possibly the most interesting thing about Guillaume is that his mother tongue is “Luxembourgish.” Yes, that is a real language. Like several of the others on this list, he was also an officer in his country’s military. He has also been particularly active in pitching Luxembourg as a prime investment opportunity, noted as having gone on missions to “South Korea, Italy, Russia, Canada, and to the United States of America.”
6. Monaco – Caroline, Princess of Hanover
Most people are familiar with the story of Caroline’s mother, Grace Kelly. An actress from America, she was a rising star in the American film industry, winning an Oscar before retiring at the age of 26 to marry Prince Rainier and become princess of Monaco.
Her daughter Caroline is now next in line to be head of Monaco, though that is due to change when her brother Albert II, the current monarch, finally has a legitimate child to carry on his line. He has at least two children with women to whom he is not married, though they are not eligible to be heirs under the laws of accession in the country.
5. Catharina-Amalia, Princess of Orange
Another tiny future ruler, Amalia was born in 2003, and it sounds like her and her sisters are being raised in a delightfully normal way – arguably the best preparation for heading up a country full of regular folks.
Holland.com says “All three Dutch princesses go to a regular school like any other Dutch child. They attend a public school, the Openbare Bloemcampschool in Wassenaar.” The site also lists Amalia’s hobbies as “hockey, judo, ballet, horse riding and playing the violin.”
4. Norway – Haakon, Crown Prince of Norway
Crown Prince Haakon of Norway, heir to the throne of his father, Harald V, is one of the busier royals on this list. According to kongehuset.no, Haakon, packing a BA in Political Science from UC Berkeley and an MA in development studies from the London School of Economics, “is the patron of a number of organisations, including the Norwegian International Film Festival, the Norwegian Association against Substance Abuse and the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra.” He has served as Goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Development Programme, been “an active member of Young Global Leaders,” and co-founded “The Global Dignity Initiative.”
3. Spain – Leonor, Princess of Asturias
The teeniest heir to the throne on this list, Leonor is 8, and heir to the throne of her Father, King Felipe VI.
When she was younger, El Pais reports that she asked her parents “Why do people take so many pictures of us?” which is a strong contender for being the best question ever asked by a royal. A student at a private school in Spain, she will have to swear to uphold the constitution of the country at the age of 18, and will also be trained by the military to better serve as commander in chief.
Her father became King after his father, King Juan Carlos, abdicated the throne earlier this year. Juan Carlos is famous for yelling “Why don’t you shut up?” at then-Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in 2007; yet another contender for best royal question.
2. Sweden – Victoria, Crown Princess of Sweden
Sweden enjoys one of the most popular monarchies around, and the ruling family is the longest reigning in Sweden’s history, with the House of Bernadotte’s rule going back to 1763.
The current King, Carl XVI Gustaf, assumed the throne in 1973, and lives by the motto “For Sweden – with the times.” That attitude has manifested in a strong commitment to the environment, a subject on which the King is considered an expert.
His daughter Victoria is the next in line to assume the throne, and is a much-loved member of Swedish society. Pursuing studies in political science and holding interests “in culture, art and design,” she’s noted as having “especially close ties to the thrones of Denmark and Norway” – a boon, given the strong cultural and economic ties those countries share.
1. United Kingdom – Charles, Prince of Wales
Charles is probably the most widely-known figure on this list, though likely not for the right reasons. He was, of course, married to the original English Rose, Princess Diana – neé Spencer – and their marriage ended with much bitterness, finger-pointing, and media speculation.
Like so many of the other royals on this list, Charles embarked on a military career after he finished his schooling, staying in the military until 1976. He now devotes much of his time to philanthropy, as well as his various royal responsibilities.
Charles seems to be a bit of an odd one out in his family of well-liked royals. His mother, the Queen, is quite popular, and his wife Diana was a media darling. Now, his sons William and Harry are well-loved, and William’s wife Kate and their son Prince George are fawned over by the media. Charles remains less popular, and at 65, is unlikely to have anything approaching a long rule.