The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







This page is about the word Pretender as it applies to a monarchy. For other meanings, see Pretender (disambiguation).

A Pretender is a claimant to an abolished or already occupied throne. Deposed monarchs are not seen as pretenders, as the term only applies to those who have never occupied the throne. The papal equivalent is the antipope.


Some modern pretenders

State Pretender Link to Past Monarchy
Austria Crown Prince Otto Son of the last Emperor-King, Karl I of Austria
Albania Crown Prince Leka Zogu Son of the last king, Zog of Albania
Burma Crown Prince Shwebomin Shwebomin claims distant descent from the Bagan line of emperors of the first Burmese empire through Sinbyushin
France Henri, Comte de Paris, Duc de France (Orleanist-Legitimist*: generally accepted) descendant of Louis-Philippe of France
France Louis-Alphonse, Duc d'Anjou (Legitimist: minority support) descendant of Louis XIV of France
France Charles Bonaparte (Bonapartist) descendant of Napoléon Joseph Charles Paul Bonaparte
Germany and Prussia Georg Friedrich, Prince of Prussia descendant of the last Emperor, Wilhelm II
Hawai'i Quentin Kawananakoa senior descendant of Victoria Kaiulani
Hungary Crown Prince Otto Son of the last King-Emperor, Charles IV of Hungary
Iran Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi II son of the last Shah, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi
Ireland Míchàilîan ó Máoilsheáchlainn, Sh.R. Príonnsa na hÉireann (Michailian McLoughlin, "H.R.H. The Prince of Ireland") one of many descendants of the Uí Niall dynasty (ruled Ireland, 377 to 1022) who maintain a right to stand for election to the native Irish throne (in his case, as the future Mæl Sechnaill III), in the highly unlikely event it is ever restored
Italy Crown Prince Victorio Emanuele Son of the last king, Humbert II of Italy
Montenegro Nikola, Prince of Montenegro Descendant of the last king, Nikola I of Montenegro
Portugal Duarte Pio, Duke of Bragança great grandson of king Miguel I
Portugal dom Rosario,Duke of Bragança descendant of Duchess Maria Pia of Bragança
Russia Grand Duke George of Russia descendant of the last Emperor, Nicholas II
Serbia and Yugoslavia Crown Prince Alexander of Yugoslavia son of the last king, Peter II
Vietnam Crown Prince Bao Long son of the last emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty, Bao Dai

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 Legitimists accepted the Comte's selection as heir, the Orleanist pretender, the Comte de Paris, grandson of King Louis-Philippe as the Legitimist pretender to the French throne. A small minority refused to accept this designation, and chose instead a very distant Spanish-based descendant of an earlier monarch. Hence there are in effect two legitimist pretenders, though the Orleanist pretender, the modern Comte de Paris, is generally 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 Bonaparte , descendant of the Prince Napoléon.

Russian Pretenders

There is much debate over who is the legitimate heir to the Russian throne. Grand Duke George is considered by some to be the legitimate heir, being the grandson of a cousin of Czar Nicholas II of Russia. However, the Grand Duke's mother, Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna also claims to be the rightful heir to the throne. The massacre of the Romanovs that followed the Russian Revolution has made tracking a legitimate heir to the Russian throne very difficult, and some believe there is no legitimate heir at all.

British Pretenders

The son of the deposed James II, James Francis Edward Stuart, was a pretender to the throne of Great Britain, and was commonly referred to as The Old Pretender. His son, Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie, or The Young Pretender) claimed the throne after James' death. See Jacobitism and the related category for more information including the current Jacobite "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.

Fake pretenders

Some well-known impostors who claimed to be a genuine pretenders include:

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