A pretender is a claimant to an abolished throne or to a throne already occupied by somebody else. The English word pretend comes from the French word prétendre, meaning "to put forward, to profess or claim". The term pretender is also applied to those persons on whose behalf a claim to a throne is advanced, regardless of whether that person himself actually makes an active claim. Significantly, the word pretender applies both to claimants with genuine rights to the throne (such as the various pretenders of the Wars of the Roses), and to those with fabricated claims (such as the pretender to Henry VII's throne Lambert Simnel). The papal equivalent of a pretender is an antipope.

Modern pretenders

The following list contains current pretenders. During the monarchical period of some countries listed here, there was no reigning house as it is known in the European sense – those are for example Tibet or the Central African Empire. These countries have a — in the column "House".


Country Pretender born Pretender since Link to past monarchy House Heir born
Albania Crown Prince Leka 1939 1961 son of Zog I (self-proclaimed King from 1928 to 1939, afterwards unofficially in exile to 1961) Zogu Prince Leka 1982
Giorgio Castriota Scanderbeg c. 1955 1997 descendant of Scanderbeg Castriota-Scanderbeg
Austria-Hungary Crown Prince Otto 1912 1922 son of Charles I (Emperor of Austria, King of Hungary etc. from 1916 to 1918) Habsburg-Lorraine Archduke Karl 1961
Bulgaria Simeon II 1937 1946 Tsar from 1943 to 1946 Wettin
(Saxe-Coburg and Gotha line)
Kardam, Prince of Turnovo 1962
Courland Prince Ernst-Johann Biron of Courland 1940 1982 descendant of Ernst Johann von Biron (Duke from 1737 to 1740 and 1763 to 1769) Biron Prince Michael 1944
Franz, Duke of Bavaria 1933 1996 great-grandson of Maria Theresia of Austria-Este, heir of the House of Stuart Wittelsbach Max, Duke in Bavaria 1937
Michael Abney-Hastings, 14th Earl of Loudoun 1942 1944 heir-general of George, Duke of Clarence, assuming probable illegitimacy of Edward IV York Simon Abney-Hastings, Lord Mauchline 1974
Princess Alice of Bourbon-Parma, Dowager Duchess of Calabria 1917 1994 Non-Salic descendant of the Scottish King Malcolm Canmore and his Queen, Margaret of Wessex, sister and heir of Edgar the Ætheling. Bourbon-Parma Infante Carlos, Duke of Calabria 1938
Louis Alphonse, Duke of Anjou 1974 1989 tenth-generation descendant of Louis XIV (King from 1643 to 1715) Bourbon Juan Carlos I of Spain 1938
(Orléanist and Unionist)
Henri, Count of Paris, Duke of France 1933 1999 great-great-great-grandson of Louis-Philippe of France (King from 1830 to 1848) Orléans
(sub-line of the House of Bourbon)
François, Count of Clermont 1961
Charles Napoléon 1950 1997 great-great-grandnephew of Napoléon I (self-proclaimed Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1814 and in 1815) Bonaparte Jean-Christophe Napoléon 1986
Greece Constantine II 1940 1973 King from 1964 to 1973 Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg
(sub-line of the House of Oldenburg)
Crown Prince Pavlos 1967
Franz, Duke of Bavaria 1933 1996 great-grandson of Maria Theresia of Austria-Este, heir of the House of Stuart Wittelsbach Max, Duke in Bavaria 1937
Michael Abney-Hastings, 14th Earl of Loudoun 1942 1944 heir-general of George, Duke of Clarence, assuming probable illegitimacy of Edward IV York Simon Abney-Hastings, Lord Mauchline 1974
Lithuania Wilhelm Albert, Duke of Urach 1957 1991 grandson of Mindaugas II (nominal King in 1918) Urach
(a morgantic subline of the House of Württemberg)
Prince Karl Philipp 1992
Mann Simon Egerton Scrope 1934 descendant of William le Scrope (King from 1392 to 1399) Scrope Harry Scrope 1974
Montenegro Nicholas, Prince of Montenegro 1944 1986 great-grandson of Nikola I (King from 1910 to 1918) Petrović-Njegoš Hereditary Prince Boris 1980
Portugal Duarte Pio, Duke of Braganza 1945 1976 great-grandson of Miguel I (King from 1828 to 1834) Braganza
(male-line descent from the House of Capet)
Infante Afonso, Prince of Beira 1996
Romania Michael I 1921 1947 King from 1927 to 1930 and from 1940 to 1947 Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen Frederick William, Prince of Hohenzollern
(via last royal constitution)
Princess Margarita
(via post-abolition family law)
Paul-Philippe Hohenzollern 1948 2006 grandson of Carol II (King from 1930 to 1940) Lambrino
(descended of an annulled Hohenzollern marriage)
Alexander Hohenzollern 1961
Russia Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna 1953 1992 descendant of Alexander II (Tsar from 1855 to 1881) Romanov
(a sub-line of the House of Holstein-Gottorp, a sub-line of the House of Oldenburg)
Grand Duke George Mikhailovich 1981
Nicholas Romanov, Prince of Russia 1922 1992 descendant of Nicholas I (Tsar from 1825 to 1855) Prince Dmitri Romanovich 1926
Franz, Duke of Bavaria 1933 1996 great-grandson of Maria Theresia of Austria-Este, heir of the House of Stuart Wittelsbach Max, Duke in Bavaria 1937
Nicholas, Prince of Montenegro 1944 1986 grandson of Prince Mirko of Montenegro, relative and designated heir of Alexander I of Serbia Petrović-Njegoš Hereditary Prince Boris 1980
Crown Prince Alexander 1945 1970 son of King Peter II, King from 1934 to 1945. Karađorđević Hereditary Prince Peter 1980
Carlos Hugo, Count of Montemolin 1930 1977 sons of Xavier, Duke of Parma, declared regent by Alfonso Carlos of Bourbon, Duke of San Jaime Bourbon Carlos, Duke of Madrid 1970
Sixtus, Duke of Aranjuez 1940 1979
Warsaw Maria Emanuel, Margrave of Meissen 1926 1968 great great great grandnephew of Frederick Augustus I (Duke from 1807 to 1813) Wettin Prince Albert 1934
Yugoslavia Crown Prince Alexander 1945 1970 son of Peter II (King from 1934 to 1945) Karađorđević Hereditary Prince Peter 1980


Some of the former German monarchies are not listed here because all eligible dynasts of the respective formerly reigning houses are extinct: The Grand Duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin in 2001, the duchy of Saxe-Altenburg in 1991 and the principalities of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt and Schwarzburg-Sondershausen (since 1909 in personal union with Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt) in the male line in 1971. There may be potential claimants to the entirety of Schwarzburg, however.
Country Pretender born Pretender since Link to past monarchy House Heir born
Germany Georg Friedrich, Prince of Prussia 1976 1994 great-great-grandson of William II (Emperor from 1888 to 1918) Hohenzollern Prince Christian-Sigismund 1946
Bavaria Franz, Duke of Bavaria 1933 1996 great-grandson of Ludwig III (King from 1913 to 1918) Wittelsbach Max, Duke in Bavaria 1937
Hanover Ernst August V, Prince of Hanover 1954 1987 great-great-grandson of Georg V (King from 1851 to 1866) Hanover
(a sub-line of the House of Welf, a sub-line of the House of Este)
Prince Ernst August 1983
Prussia Georg Friedrich, Prince of Prussia 1976 1994 great-great-grandson of William II (King from 1888 to 1918) Hohenzollern Prince Christian Sigismund 1946
Saxony Maria Emanuel, Margrave of Meissen 1926 1968 grandson of Frederick Augustus III (King from 1904 to 1918) Wettin Prince Albert 1934
Westphalia Charles Napoléon 1950 1997 great-great-grandson of Jérôme Bonaparte (King from 1807 to 1813) Bonaparte Jean-Christophe Napoléon 1986
Württemberg Carl, Duke of Württemberg 1936 1975 grand-nephew of William II (King from 1891 to 1918) Württemberg Hereditary Duke Friedrich 1961
Grand Duchies
Baden Maximilian, Margrave of Baden 1933 1963 great-grandnephew of Frederick II (Grand Duke from 1907 to 1918) Zähringen Hereditary Prince Bernhard 1970
Frankfurt Nicolas, Duke of Leuchtenberg 1933 1988 descendant of Eugène de Beauharnais (Grand Duke in 1813) Beauharnais Prince Constantin 1965
Hesse and by Rhine Moritz, Landgrave of Hesse 1926 1968 adoptive grandson (from the elder line of Hesse-Kassel or Hesse-Cassel) of Ernest Louis (Grand Duke from 1892 to 1918) Hesse Hereditary Prince Donatus 1966
Hesse-Kassel (or Hesse-Cassel)
Mecklenburg-Strelitz Duke Georg Borwin of Mecklenburg 1956 1996 descendant of Georg (Strelitz line) (Grand Duke from 1816 to 1860) Mecklenburg
(Strelitz line), (a sub-line of the House of Nikloting)
Duke Alexander 1991
Oldenburg Anton-Günther, Duke of Oldenburg 1923 1970 grandson of Frederick Augustus II (Grand Duke from 1900 to 1918) Holstein-Gottorp
(a sub-line of the House of Oldenburg)
Duke Christian 1955
Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach Michael, Prince of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach 1946 1988 grandson of William Ernest (Grand Duke from 1901 to 1918) Wettin Prince Wilhelm Ernst 1946
Anhalt Eduard, Prince of Anhalt 1941 1963 son of Joachim Ernst (Duke from April to November 1918) Ascania
(Princess Julia Katharina is styled Hereditary Princess on family site)
Brunswick Ernst August V, Prince of Hanover 1954 1987 grandson of Ernest Augustus III (Duke from 1913 to 1918) Hanover
(a sub-line of the House of Welf, a sub-line of the House of Este)
Prince Ernst August 1983
Nassau Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg 1955 2000 great-great-grandson of Adolphe (Duke from 1839 to 1866) Nassau-Weilburg
(a sub-line of the House of Bourbon-Parma, a sub-line of the House of Bourbon)
Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume 1981
Saxe-Coburg and Gotha Andreas, Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha 1943 1998 grandson of Charles Edward (Duke from 1900 to 1918) Wettin Hereditary Prince Hubertus 1975
Saxe-Meiningen Konrad, Prince of Saxe-Meiningen 1952 1984 grandnephew of Bernhard III (Duke from 1914 to 1918)
Hohenzollern-Hechingen Frederick William, Prince of Hohenzollern 1924 1965 great-great-grandson of Karl Anton (Prince from 1848 to 1849) Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen Hereditary Prince Karl Friedrich 1952
Lippe Armin, Prince of Lippe 1924 1949 son of Leopold IV (Prince from 1905 to 1918) Lippe Hereditary Prince Stephan 1959
Friedrich Wilhelm, Prince of Lippe 1947 1990 great-nephew of Leopold IV (Prince from 1905 to 1918)
(Reuss Junior Line)
Heinrich IV, Prince of Reuss-Köstritz 1919 1946 current head of the House after the extinction of the first hereditary line in 1945 Reuss Prince Heinrich XIV 1955
(Reuss Senior Line)
hereditary line ceased in 1928 through the death of Heinrich XXVII (Prince from 1908 to 1918), so the claim passed to the Köstritz line that year
Schaumburg-Lippe Alexander, Prince of Schaumburg-Lippe 1958 2003 grandnephew of Adolf II (Prince from 1911 to 1918) Lippe Hereditary Prince Heinrich-Donatus 1994
Friedrich Magnus, Count of Solms-Wildenfels 1927 1984 heir via application of semi-salic law, descendant of Friedrich Günther (Prince of Rudolstadt from 1793 to 1863) Solms Hereditary Count Michael 1949
Philip, Prince of Stolberg-Wernigerode 1967 2001 heir of Count Botho of Stolberg, to whom the Schwarzburg lands would have passed on the extinction of the house via a pact between the two houses Stolberg Prince Georg Heinrich 1970
Waldeck and Pyrmont Wittekind, Prince of Waldeck and Pyrmont 1936 1967 grandson of Friedrich Adolf (Prince from 1893 to 1918) Waldeck Hereditary Prince Carl Anton 1991


Modena, Naples and Parma do not mean the Italian cities but the former states on the territory of present-day's Italy.

Country Pretender born Pretender since Link to past monarchy House Heir born
Unified Italy
Italy Vittorio Emanuele, Prince of Naples 1937 1983 son of Umberto II (King from May to June 1946) Savoy Emanuele Filiberto, Prince of Venice and Piedmont 1972
Amedeo, Duke of Aosta 1943 2006 cousin of Umberto II (King from May to June 1946) Prince Aimone, Duke of Apulia 1967
pre-unificarian States
Etruria Carlos Hugo, Duke of Parma 1940 1979 great-great-grandson of Charles II
(Louis II)
(King from 1803 to 1807)
Bourbon Carlos, Prince of Piacenza 1970
Mantua Prince Maurizio Gonzaga 1938 1943 descendant of Federico I Gonzaga (Marquess from 1478 to 1484) Gonzaga Prince Corrado Gonzaga 1941
Modena and Reggio Prince Lorenz of Belgium, Archduke of Austria-Este 1955 1996 head of the ducal family of Modena Habsburg-Lorraine Prince Amedeo of Belgium, Archduke of Austria-Este 1986
Naples Joachim, 8th Prince Murat 1944 1944 descendant of Joachim Murat (King from 1808 to 1815, appointed by Napoléon I of France) Murat Joachim, Prince of Pontecorvo 1973
Parma Carlos Hugo, Duke of Parma 1930 1977 grandson of Roberto I (Duke from 1854 to 1859) Bourbon Carlos, Prince of Piacenza 1970
Piombino Prince Niccolò Boncompagni-Ludovisi 1941 1988 descendant of Antonio I Boncompagni-Ludovisi (prince from 1778 to 1801) Boncompagni Prince Francesco Boncompagni-Ludovisi 1965
Tuscany Archduke Sigismund, Grand Duke of Tuscany 1966 1993 descendant of Ferdinand IV (Grandduke from 1859 to 1860) Habsburg-Lorraine Archduke Amadeo, Grand Prince of Tuscany 2001
Two Sicilies Infante Carlos, Duke of Calabria 1938 1964 descendants of Ferdinand II (King from 1830 to 1859) Bourbon Prince Pedro, Duke of Noto 1968
Prince Carlo, Duke of Castro 1963 2008 Prince Antoine of Bourbon Two Sicilies 1929


Country Pretender born Pretender since Link to past monarchy House Heir born
Burundi Princess Rosa Paula Iribagiza 1934 1977 daughter of Mwambutsa IV (King from 1915 to 1966) Ntwero ?
Central Africa Jean-Bédel Bokassa II 1975 1996 son of Emperor Jean-Bédel Bokassa I (1976 to 1979)
Egypt Fu'ād II 1952 1953 King from 1952 to 1953 Muhammad 'Ali Muhammad Ali, Prince of Said 1979
Ethiopia Zera Yacob Amha Selassie 1953 1997 grandson of Haile Selassie I (Emperor from 1930 to 1936 and from 1941 to 1974) Solomon Paul Wossen Sagad Makonnen 1947
Girma Yohannis Iyasu 1961 ? grandson of Iyasu V (Emperor from 1913 to 1916)
Libya Muhammad as-Senussi 1962 1992 great nephew of Idris I (King from 1951 to 1969) Senussi
Rwanda Kigeli V 1935 1961 King from 1959 (de facto from 1954) to 1961 Ndahindurwa
South Kasai Albert I Kalonji Ditunga 1919 or 1929 1961 proclaimed King in 1961
Sudan Fu'ād II 1952 1953 King from 1952 to 1953 Muhammad 'Ali Muhammad Ali, Prince of Said 1979
Tunisia Prince Muhammad Bey 1928 2006 descendant of Muhammad V an-Nasir (Bey from 1906 to 1922) Husainid ?
Zanzibar Jamshid bin Abdullah Al-Busaidi 1929 1964 Sultan from 1963 to 1964 Sa'îd Sayyid Ali bin Jamshid Al Busaidi ?


Country Pretender born Pretender since Link to past monarchy House Heir born
Araucania and Patagonia Prince Felipe of Araucania 1927 1951 heir of Orélie Antoine I (self-proclaimed King from 1860 to 1878) Boiry ?
(Vassouras branch)
Prince Luís Gastão of Orléans-Braganza 1938 1981 great-great-grandson of Pedro II (Emperor from 1831 to 1889) Orléans-Braganza
(a sub-line of the House of Orléans, a sub-line of the House of Bourbon)
Prince Bertrand of Orléans-Braganza 1941
(Petrópolis branch)
Prince Pedro Carlos of Orléans-Braganza 1945 2007 great-great-grandson of Pedro II (Emperor from 1831 to 1889) Prince Pedro Thiago of Orléans-Braganza 1979
Mexico Don Maximilian von Götzen-Itúrbide 1944 1949 descendant of Salvador de Itúrbide y de Marzán, grandson of Agustín I (proclaimed Emperor from 1822 to 1823) Itúrbide Don Fernando von Götzen-Itúrbide 1992
Miskito Nation Norton Cuthbert Clarence ? 1978 since 1978 pretender to the Miskito Kingdom and hereditary chief of the Miskito Nation ? ?


Country Pretender born Pretender since Link to past monarchy House Heir born
Aceh Hasan di Tiro 1930 ? descendant of the Sultans of Aceh ? ?
Afghanistan Crown Prince Ahmad Shah 1934 2007 Eldest surviving son of Mohammed Zahir Shah, Shah from 1933 to 1973 Barakzai Prince Muhammad Zahir Khan 1962
Bukhara Seyyid Mir Ibrahim Khan 1903 1944 son of Seyyid Mir Mohammed Alim Khan (Emir from 1910 to 1920) Manġit ?
Champasak Keo Na Champassak 1944 1980 grandson of Ratsadanay (King from 1900 to 1904) Na Champassak Saysanasak na Champassak 1946
Aisin Gioro Hêng Chen 1944 1997 descendant of Dàoguāng (Emperor from 1820 to 1850) Qīng Aisin Gioro Chinsin 1977
Vincent Yuan ? 2003 great-grandson of Yuán Shìkǎi (self-proclaimed Emperor from 1915 to 1916) Jada Yuán ?
Georgia Nugzar Bagration-Gruzinsky 1950 1984 descendant of George XII (King of Georgia from 1798 to 1800) Bagrationi Princess Anna Bagration-Gruzinski of Georgia 1976
David Bagrationi of Moukrani 1976 2008 descendant of Constantine II (King from 1478 to 1505) Gourami (Ugo) Bagration of Moukhrani 1976
Rez̤ā Pahlavī 1960 1980 son of Mohammad Rez̤ā Pahlavī (Shah from 1941 to 1979) Pahlavī Ali-Rez̤ā Pahlavī II 1966
Mohammad Hassan Mirza II 1949 1988 descendant of Mohammad Ali Shah Qâjâr (Shah from 1907 to 1909) Qâjâr Prince Arsalan Mirza ?
Iraq Prince Ra'ad bin Zeid 1936 1970 cousins of Faysal II (King from 1939 to 1958) Hāshim Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein 1964
Sharif Ali bin al-Hussein 1956 1958 ?
Jerusalem Juan Carlos I 1938 1975 The Kingdom of Jerusalem was abolished in 1291. There are various succession theories as to how the claim were to pass and who the rightful heir or heiress is. Bourbon Felipe, Prince of Asturias 1968
Louis Alphonse, Duke of Anjou 1974 1989 Juan Carlos I 1938
Victor Emmanuel, Prince of Naples 1937 1983 Savoia Emanuele Filiberto, Prince of Venice and Piedmont 1972
Otto von Habsburg 1912 1922 Habsburg-Lorraine Archduke Karl 1961
Infante Carlos, Duke of Calabria 1938 1964 Bourbon Prince Pedro, Duke of Noto 1968
Prince Carlo, Duke of Castro 1963 2008 Prince Antoine of Bourbon Two Sicilies 1929
Charles-Antoine Lamoral, Prince de Ligne de La Trémoille 1946 2005 Ligne Prince Edouard 1976
Patrick Guinness 1956 1999 Guinness Jasmine Guinness 1976
Kalat Agha Suleiman Jan 1967 1998 grandson of Ahmed Yar Khan (Khan from 1933 to 1955) Ahmadzai
Korea Yi Haewŏn 1919 2006 granddaughter of Gwangmu (Emperor from 1863 to 1907) Yi
Yi Won 1962 2005 adoptive son of Prince Yi Gu, grandson of Gwangmu (Emperor from 1863 to 1907) ?
Laos Soulivong Savang 1963 1978/
grandson of Savang Vatthana (King from 1959 to 1975) Khun Lo Thayavong Savang 1964
Maldives Prince Muhammad Nur ud-din ? 1969 son of Hassan Nooraddeen Iskandar II (Sultan from 1935 to 1943) Huraa Prince Ibrahim Nur ud-din ?
Manchukuo Aisin Gioro Puren 1918 1994 brother of Kāngdé
(Emperor from 1934 to 1945)
Qīng Jin Yuzhang 1942
Mongolia Aisin Gioro Hêng Chen 1944 1997 descendant of Dàoguāng (Emperor of China from 1820 to 1850) Aisin Gioro Chinsin 1977
Mongolia Jampal Namdol Chökyi Gyaltsen 1932 1936 9th Jebtsundamba Khutuktu, reincarnation of Bogd Khan, 8th Jebtsundamba Khutuktu - - -
Myanmar Taw Phaya 1924 1962 grandson of Thibaw Min (King from 1878 to 1885) Konbaung Taw Phaya Myat Gyi 1945
Nepal Gyanendra 1947 2008 king from 2001 to 2008 Shah Crown Prince Paras 1971
Qu'aiti Ghalib II 1948 1967 Sultan from 1966 to 1967 Al-Qu'aiti Prince Saleh bin Ghalib al-Qu'aiti 1977
Ryūkyū Shō Mamoru ? 1996 descendant of Shō Tai (King from 1848 to 1879) Shō ?
Sarawak Anthony Brooke 1912 1946 nephew of Charles Vyner Brooke (White Raja from 1917 to 1946) Brooke James Bertram Lionel Brooke 1940
Singapore Tengku Sri Indra ? 1996 descendant of Sultan Ali Iskandar Shah (Sultan from 1835-1877) ?
Sulu Jamalul Kiram III 1938 1986 grandson of Jamalul Kiram I (Sultan from 1884 to 1899) Kiram ?
Tibet Tenzin Gyatso 1935 1940 Dalai Lama since 1940
Turkey Ertuğrul Osman V 1912 1994 grandson of Abdul Hamid II (Ottoman Sultan and Caliph from 1876 to 1909) Osman Burhaneddin Djem 1920
Vietnam Bảo Thắng 1943 2007 second son of Bảo Đại (Emperor from 1925 to 1945) Nguyễn
Yemen Ageel bin Muhammad al-Badr 1974 1996 son of Muhammad al-Badr (King from 1962 to 1970) Al-Qasimi Muhammad al-Hassan bin 'Ageel ?


Satara, Surat, Alwar, Balasinor, Banganapalle, Baroda, Bhopal, Gwalior, Hyderabad, Idar, Indore, Jodhpur Kolhapur Mysore and Udaipur do not mean the Indian cities but the former states on the territory of present-day's India.

Country Pretender born Pretender since Link to past monarchy House Heir born
Political pensioners
Carnatic Muhammed Abdul Ali 1951 1993 descendant of Azimuddaula (Nawab from 1801 to 1819) Farukhi Muhammad Asif Ali Khan ?
Khudadad Shahzada Asif 'Ali 1957 1983 descendant of Tipu Sultan Tipu Sultan
Mughal Empire Mirza Ghulam Moinuddin Muhammad 1946 1975 descendant of Alam II (Shah from 1759 to 1806) Tīmūr Mirza Shahrukh Shah Jahan 1978
Punjab Beant Singh Sandhanwalia 1926 1978 heir of Duleep Singh Sandhu Jat Sukhdev Singh Sandhanwalia ?
Satara Udayanraje Maharaj Bhonsle 1966 1978 descendant of Shivaji Maharaj Bhonsle
Surat Usman Alam Khan Sahib 1935 1989 descendant of Mir Jaafar Ali Khan head of the Surat family (1842 to 1863) Sehswani Maqbul Alam Khan Sahib ?
Salute states
Alwar Tej Singh 1911 1947 Maharaja from 1937 to 1947 Kachwaha Jitendra Singh 1971
Balasinor Muhammad Salabat Khan II 1944 1947 Maharaja from 1945 to 1947 Babi Muhammed Salauddin Khan 1979
Banganapalle Fazli Ali Khan IV 1959 1983 grandson of Fazli Ali Khan III (Nawab from 1937 to 1948) Naqdi
Baroda Ranjitsinhrao Gaekwad 1938 1988 son of Pratapsinhrao Gaekwad (Maharaja Gaekwar from 1939 to 1949) Gaekwad Samarjitsinhrao Gaekwad 1967
Bhopal Begum Saleha Sultan 1940 1995 granddaughter of Hamidullah Khan (Nawab from 1926 to 1949) Orakzai
Gwalior Jyotiraditya Madhavrao Scindia 1971 1998 grandson of George Jiyajirao Scindia (Maharaja Scindia from 1925 to 1947) Scindia Mahanaryaman Scindia 1995
Hyderabad Barkat Ali Khan Mukarram Jah 1933 1967 grandson of Osman Ali Khan, Asif Jah VII (Nizam from 1911 to 1949) Asif Jah Prince Azmet Jah 1960
Idar Rajendra Singh Idar 1938 1992 grandson of Hirmat Singh Daulat Singh (Maharaja from 1925 to 1947) Rathore
Indore Usha Devi Maharaj Sahiba Holkar XV Bahadur 1933 1961 daughter of Yeshwant Rao II (Maharaja Holkar from 1926 to 1947) Holkar
Jammu and Kashmir Karan Singh 1931 1949 son of Hari Singh (Maharaja from 1925 to 1949) Rathore Vikramaditya Singh 1964
Jodhpur Gaj Singh 1948 1952 son of Hanwant Singh (Maharaja from 1947 to 1949) Shivraj Singh 1975
Kolhapur Shahu II Bhonsle 1948 1983 son of Shahaji II Puar (Maharaja from 1947 to 1949) Bhonsle Shrimant Sambhaji 1971
Mysore Srikantha Datta Narasimharaja Wodeyar 1953 1974 Son of Jayachamaraja Wodeyar Bahadur (Maharaja from 1940 to 1950) Wodeyar
Sikkim Wangchuk Namgyal 1953 1982 Son of Palden Thondup Namgyal (Chogyal from 1963 to 1975) Namgyal
Travancore Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma 1922 1991 brother of Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma (Maharaja from 1924 to 1949) Cheraman (Kulashekhara)
Udaipur (Mewar) Mahendra Singh 1941 1984 adoptive grandson of Bhupal Singh (Maharana from 1930 to 1949) Sisodia Vishvaraj Singh ?


Country Pretender born Pretender since Link to past monarchy House Heir born
Cocos (Keeling) Islands John Cecil Clunies-Ross (Ross V) 1928 1978 self-proclaimed King from 1944 to 1978 Clunies-Ross John George Clunies-Ross 1957
Hawaii Quentin Kūhiō Kawananākoa 1961 1998 current head of the descendants of Lili'uokalani (Queen from 1891 to 1893) Kawananākoa Kincaid Kawananākoa 1996
Owana Kaohelelani Mahealani-rose Salazar 1953 1988 descendant of Kalokuokamaile half-brother of Kamehameha (King from 1795 to 1819) Keoua Nui Noa Kalokuokamaile DeGuire 1981

Pretenders in the Roman Empire

Ancient Rome knew many pretenders to the office of Roman Emperor, especially during the crisis of the Third Century.

These are customarily referred to as the Thirty Tyrants, which was an allusion to the Thirty Tyrants at Athens some five hundred years earlier; although the comparison is questionable, and the Romans were separate aspirants, not (as the Athenians were) a Committee of Public Safety. The Loeb translation of the appropriate chapter of the Augustan History therefore represents the Latin triginta tyranni by "Thirty Pretenders" to avoid this artificial and confusing parallel. Not all of them were afterwards considered pretenders; several were actually successful in becoming Emperor in at least in part of the Empire for a brief period.

The Byzantine Empire

Disputed successions to the Empire continued at Constantinople. Most seriously, after the fall of Constantinople to the Fourth Crusade in 1204, and its eventual recovery by Michael VIII Palaeologus, there came to be three Byzantine successor states, each of which claimed to be the Roman Empire, and several Latin claimants (including the Republic of Venice and the houses of Montferrat and Courtenay) to the Latin Empire the Crusaders had set up in its place. There were sometimes multiple claimants to some of the inheritances, as well.

Cypriot pretenders

Following the defeat and death of King Jacques III of Cyprus in 1474, his younger and illegitimate brother, Eugene Matteo de Armenia (c1485-1523) had moved to Sicily, then Malta. He was acknowledged as Heir to Cyprus, Armenia, Jerusalem and Antioch, though never took it seriously. From a genealogical point, Eugene Matteo (de Lusignan) de Armenia was created a Sicilian title and worked as a Jurat in Malta and in Sicily.

French pretenders

Following the death of the childless legitimist pretender "Henry V", Comte de Chambord, grandson of King Charles X of France in the 1880s, the majority of French monarchists accepted his distant relative, the Orleanist pretender, the Comte de Paris, grandson of King Louis-Philippe (who descends from King Louis XIII) as the pretender to the French throne. A small minority refused to accept this designation, and chose instead a descendant of Louis XIV and the Spanish line.

The arguments are, on one side, that Philip V of Spain renounced any future claim to the French throne when he became King of Spain, and that the Dukes of Orleans were therefore recognized as the next heirs before the French Revolution. On the other side, that this renunciation was invalid and impossible, and (in some cases) that Philippe Égalité and Louis-Philippe forfeited any remaining right to the crown for disloyalty. Hence there are two pretenders to the French throne; though the Orleanist pretender, the present Comte de Paris, is accepted by most French monarchists as the pretender, as the list above shows.

There is also a pretender to the imperial throne of France, in the person of Charles Napoléon, descendant of the Prince Napoléon.

Russian pretenders

There is much debate over who is the legitimate heir to the Russian throne. Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna is considered by some to be the legitimate heir. She is the daughter of Grand Duke Vladimir who some considered the last male dynast. Supporters of Prince Nicholas' claim believe she is born of a morganatic marriage and therefore not entitled to inherit the throne under strict Russian succession law. Unequal marriages have made tracking a legitimate heir to the Russian throne very difficult, and some believe there is no legitimate heir at all. Nicholas Romanov, Prince of Russia a descendant of Emperor Nicholas I and president of Romanov Family Association believes himself to be Grand Duke Vladimir's successor. He is regarded by some as the head of the family, but supporters of Grand Duchess Maria's claim believe he is born of a morganatic marriage and therefore not entitled to inherit the throne under strict Russian succession law, Prince Nicholas disputes this and considers himself a Russian dynast. Those who impersonated the murdered daughters of Nicholas II were not pretenders to the throne, as women could not succeed to the Russian throne while a male dynast was alive. Anna Anderson attempted to prove she was the lost daughter of Nicholas II, Anastasia, but DNA testing on her remains proved her claim false.

English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh and British pretenders

England and Scotland

Pretenders to the thrones of the United Kingdom and its predecessor realms, as well as the other historical jurisdictions that are modernly England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, have existed from time to time, though there are now very few. Ireland declared itself a republic in 1949, essentially rendering the discussion of modern Irish pretenders a moot point. Among those who have been pretenders to the thrones of the United Kingdom and/or its predecessor or constituent nations are:

  • James Francis Edward Stuart, the Roman Catholic son of the deposed King James VII and II, was barred from the succession to the throne by the Act of Settlement 1701. Notwithstanding the Act of Union 1707, he claimed the separate thrones of Scotland, as James VIII, and of England and Ireland, as James III, until his death in 1766. In Jacobite terms, Acts of Parliament (of England or Scotland) after 1688, (including the Acts of Union) did not receive the required Royal Assent of the legitimate Jacobite monarch and, therefore, were without legal effect.
  • Charles Edward Stuart, James' elder son, the would-be Charles III, known as Bonnie Prince Charlie, died in 1788. His younger brother, Henry Benedict Stuart, took up the claim to the throne as the would-be Henry IX of England, though he was the final Jacobite heir to publicly do so. He died in 1807.

The current Jacobite pretender is Franz, Duke of Bavaria, though he himself does not claim the title.


Owain Glyndŵr (1349-1416) is probably the best-known Welsh pretender, though whether he was pretender or Prince of Wales depends upon your source of information. Officially, Llywelyn ap Gruffydd ap Llywelyn, who died in 1282, was the last native and arguably greatest Prince of Wales. Since 1301, the Prince of Wales has been the eldest living son of the King or Queen Regnant of England (subsequently of Great Britain, 1707, and of United Kingdom, 1801). The word "living" is important. Upon the death of Arthur, Prince of Wales, Henry VII invested his second son, the future Henry VIII, with the title. The title is not automatic, however, but merges into the Crown when a prince dies or accedes to the throne, and has to be re-conferred by the sovereign.

Nevertheless, it is Glyndŵr whom many remember as the last native Prince of Wales. He was indeed proclaimed Prince of Wales by his supporters on 16 September 1400, and his revolt in quest of Welsh independence was not quashed by Henry IV until 1409. Later, however, one of Glyndŵr's cousins, Owain Tudor, would marry the widow of Henry V, and their grandson would become Henry VII, from whom the current British monarch is descended (through his daughter Margaret Tudor, who was married off to James IV of Scotland). So, in a way, Glyndŵr might be said to have had the last laugh.


The business of Irish pretenders is rather more complicated because of the nature of kingship in Ireland before the Norman take-over of 1171. In both Ireland and Scotland, succession to kingship was elective, often (if not usually) by contest, according to matrilineal descent. That is, the head of state of any kingdom, sub-kingdom, high kingdom, etc., was always a king, but the king always inherited the crown through his mother, as a ranking princess royal, not through his father. (See, e.g., The Lion in the North: A Personal View of Scotland's History, by John Prebble ISBN 0-14-003652-0 ; among other works.)

Thus, you, as king, would not be succeeded by your own son but would normally be succeeded by your mother's other sons; then by your sisters' sons; then, your maternal aunt's sons; and so on, traveling through the female line of the royal house. This combination of male succession through matrilineal descent produced a cumbersome system under which the throne passed cyclically from brother to brother, then uncle to nephew, and then cousin to cousin, before starting over as brother to brother, uncle to nephew, etc. {See, e.g., The Lion in the North: A Personal View of Scotland's History, by John Prebble; among other works.} In Ireland, however, the high king from the time of Maelsheachlainn I (died 862) exercised a measure of control over the country. He belonged to the Ui Neill dynasty and under the Brehon laws, succession was open to any kinsman up to and including second cousin. His dynasty is today represented by the O'Neill family who would regard their head as the pretender. The O Conor dynasty provided two high kings and the head of the family, the O Conor Don, would also be considered a pretender to the Irish throne. The descendants of Brian Boroimhe are represented by Lord Inchiquin, who is also regarded as a claimant. In addition, pretenders or claimants exist to the localised kingdoms of Breifne, Fermanagh, Tyrconnel and Leinster. The O'Neills would also be regarded as claimants to the throne of Aileach and Lord Inchiquin to the throne of Thomond.

In Scotland, Malcolm II tried to get around this system by killing off all of the heirs between himself and his grandson, Duncan; except for Prince Lulach of Moray, who was just five years old at the time and - more importantly - was successfully rumoured to be half-witted (thus, he survived). Duncan I did become king, but Lulach's stepfather, Maelbeth - rendered "Macbeth" in English - successfully claimed the throne in his own right and on Lulach's behalf.

Duncan I's son, Malcolm III 'Canmore', ultimately returned from exile in England and took the throne from Maelbeth and Lulach (the latter reigning 1057-1058, after the death of Maelbeth in battle against Malcolm). Malcolm was succeeded by his brother, as Duncan II, but then by four of his own sons - one of whom, Edgar (1097-1107), changed the official language of Scotland from Gàidhlig (then, still a Scottish dialect of Old Irish) to Scots (then, a language similar to English but missing the Saxon element that has always been part of standard English). Gaelic dominance of Scotland ended during the reign of Alexander I (1107-1124), and the old Celtic system of matrilineal kingship finally ended and was replaced by a system of primogeniture.

Such a transition never happened in Ireland, but civil war and the imposition of Anglo-Norman rule intervened. Although Ireland had been culturally unified for centuries, it was not politically unified, even as a tribal nation. The Romans having ignored the big green island west of Britain, the Gaels themselves were the last people to successfully invade Ireland and, notwithstanding 750 years of English rule, it is very arguable whether the Norman English ever truly conquered Ireland. (They controlled Ireland, certainly, but that is not all there is to conquest.) So, even serious coastal encroachments by the Vikings a millennium after their arrival did not prompt the Gaels of Ireland to see a need for political unity even to build a concerted national defence.

The High King of Ireland was essentially a ceremonial, pseudo-federal overlord (where his over-lordship was even recognised), who exercised actual power only within the realm of which he was actually king. In the case of the southern branch of the Uí Niall, this would have been the Kingdom of Meath (modernly the counties of Meath, West Meath and part of County Dublin). High Kings from the northern branch of the family ruled various kingdoms in what eventually became the province of Ulster.

Nevertheless, the Uí Niall were apparently powerful in ceremony if not in politic, so that political unification of Ireland was not aided by the usurpation of the high kingship from Mael Sechnaill II and the southern Uí Niall in 1002 by Briain ‘Boruma’ mac Cennédig, of the Kingdom of Munster. This was the third of the so-called "Three Usurpations of Brian Boru."

Brian Boru was a strong king who could have unified Ireland politically, and there is some suggestion he intended to make himself High King of Scotland as well. But he was killed in the Battle of Contarf in 1014, and twelve years as High King was not long enough to unify the island politically. Mael Sechnaill II was restored to the High Kingship but he died in 1022, too soon to undo the damage done by Brian's "coup." From 1022 through the Norman take-over of 1171, the High Kingship was held by "Kings with Opposition" - that is, whoever was strong enough to overthrow the High King of the day and take the Hill of Tara simply did so. This 150-year period of regnal unrest between families now called O'Brian, O'Conner, McLoughlin/O'Melaghlin, and others, was eventually immortalised in the children's game called "King of the Hill." The game is still popular among American children, who take turns trying to push each other off a low stool, chair, or other make-shift hill while arguing, "I'm king of the hill!" "No! I'm king!"

Because the native Irish high kingship never transitioned to a system of nation-state kingship primogeniture but simply faded into an oblivion of civil war between competing Irish royal families, there are literally as many as a million or more people who can make a claim to the ancient high kingship of Tara that is as equally valid as anybody else's under the old system disrupted by what may be called Brian Boru's "coup de tribe." Indeed, as a reputed descendant of Brian Boru and of the Uí Niall Dynasty both through his late grandmother, the current heir to the statutory throne that includes Northern Ireland, Prince Charles, could be considered a viable pretender to the high kingship of Ireland, especially as he would be making the claim through the female line of his ancestry. {The British Royal Family has publicly claimed descent from Brian Boru through the late Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, and from other ancestors associated with the Ui Niall Dynasty - usually via marriage through the Royal Family's Scottish ancestry; see the history section of the Royal Family's website for bloodlines and timelines.) But see the remarks above regarding existing native dynasties, whose claims are more valid than those of the current British royal family.

The claims of the British House of Windsor to the Tara Throne of the High Kings of Ireland are baseless since the Irish provincial royal thrones, as well as that of the High Kings can only be claimed strictly through the agnatic male line. Of all the former or reigning European royal houses, none have adhered more strictly to the agnatic principle than those of Ireland. Only recently, the Provincial Throne of Leinster was declared dormant, despite the existence of legitimate female line heirs. The claims by modern royal genealogists-most notably the late Lord Lyon, Sir Thomas Innes of Learney- that the Celtic monarchies of Ireland and Scotland relied heavily on the right of female line of succession is a complete fallacy, and one which has been used to attempt to justify the claims of the House of Windsor. Only the Pictish monarchy of Eastern and northern Scotland embraced this form of succession. The Scottish monarchy adhered strictly to the elective agnatic male-line, until the accession of MalColm II in 1005. This monarch first introduced the concept of hereditary monarchy in Scotland, mainly to end the strife between rival elective claimants. MalColm's new law allowed for both male and female line succession, but not without great conflict and strife which carried on for generations in Scotland. The Irish monarchies never at any stage allowed the introduction of female line succession.

Interestingly, some Irish rebels discussed offering the Irish throne to Prince Joachim of Prussia (son of Kaiser Wilhelm II) before the 1916 Easter Rising. This was obviously anti-English sentiment following the execution of the leaders of the rebellion. After the failure of the Rising (whose leaders established an Irish republic; the royalists were a minority among the rebels), the offer was, of course, never made. But had he been crowned, and Ireland had subsequently became a republic, Joachim's son, Franz Wilhelm, would be an Irish pretender; and, afterward, his son, George of Russia, would be an Irish as well as a Russian pretender.

Ottoman pretenders

Eldest son during the reign of his father, Mehmet the Conqueror claimed the Sultanate although he was defeated in battle months later by his eldest brother (by birth) Bayezid II. He fled to Rhodes Island then eventually to the Papal Territories. His descendants claimed Cem rights until Malta defeated the Ottomans in the 16th century. After the Ottoman empire was abolished, and the Republic of Turkey came into power, the successive heads of the Ottoman family claimed the throne of the Turkish empire.

Kingdom of Jerusalem

Since the fall of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, many European rulers have claimed to be its rightful heir. None of these, however, have actually ruled over a part of the former Kingdom. Today there are several potential European claimants on the basis of the inheritance of the title. None of the claimants have any power in the area of the former Kingdom. See the article Kings of Jerusalem for a list of potential claimants.

Outside of Europe, the Emperors of Ethiopia held the title of "King of Zion" through their claim of decent from the Biblical House of David through his son King Solomon. Menelik II dropped the use of this title. The Ethiopian Emperors continued to use the honorific of "Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah" up until the monarchy ended with the fall of Emperor Haile Selassie in 1974.

False pretenders

A number of individuals have claimed to be princes who disappeared or died under somewhat mysterious circumstances:

There have also been individuals who claimed to be descendants of royalty:

Japanese descendants of Chinese emperors

Japanese clans like the Hata clan were descended from the first emperor of china, Qin Shi Huang. See foreign clans in article Japanese clans for other descendants of Chinese emperors in Japan.

See also


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