His Majesty King Salman of Saudi Arabia has named his 31-year-old son, Mohammed bin Salman as Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. Mohammed replaces the King’s nephew as His Majesty’s heir.
The announcement came just after midnight through a royal decree sent out to the Saudi Press Agency. It shocked the Saudi establishment, although some others had suspected that the changed was coming. Mohammed bin Salman’s profile has soared over the past few years, but many in the establishment assumed former-Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef’s role was secure.
The future monarch will now serve as the Deputy Prime Minister and, according to Reuters, will retain “defence, oil and other portfolios.”
The royal decree also explained that the promotion of King Salman’s son was endorsed by 31 out of 34 members of the Allegiance Council. This council is made up of senior members of the Saudi Royal Family.
A senior official in the Middle Eastern kingdom explained that the choice was due to “special circumstances” that were presented to the council.
In a letter sent to His Majesty, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef told the King that he supported the decision.
A professor at Princeton University, Bernard Haykel, told Reuters that His Majesty made this change as a way to explicitly set the line of succession to the throne to avoid a power struggle later on between his son and nephew.
He said, “It’s clearly a transition that has happened smoothly and bloodlessly … There’s going to be much more clarity on the issue of succession now. There was a bit of messiness before with everyone guessing what was going to happen. Now it’s clear; it’s straightforward. That kind of clarity lowers the risk; there’s no question as to who’s going to be in charge.”