They are the people who will one day reign and their role has an importance that pervades every element of their lives. Being the heir means preparation for a throne that starts early and only ends with accession. From the first in lines who grew up in pole position to those who took the part when adults, here are the heirs of Europe in 2023.
Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark
Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark is the longest serving heir in Europe, having been first in line to the throne for 51 years in 2023. Born on May 22nd 1968 in Copenhagen, he was just three when his mother became Queen Margrethe II on January 14th 1972. He was raised as heir to the throne. Married to Crown Princess Mary since 2004 and with four children, the first in line has taken on a much higher profile role in recent years and ruled as regent for several weeks when Queen Margrethe underwent back surgery early in 2023.
Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden
Crown Princess Victoria will mark 43 years as heir to the throne of Sweden in 2023. When she was born, on July 14th 1977, Victoria Ingrid Alice Desiree had no succession rights. A change in law soon afterwards saw her become first in line to her father, King Carl XVI Gustaf, even leapfrogging her younger brother, Carl Philip, who had been born as Crown Prince in 1979 but moved down the succession under new rules. Crown Princess Victoria has become the most popular member of the Swedish Royal Family. She is married to Prince Daniel and they have two children.
Hereditary Prince Alois of Liechtenstein
Prince Alois occupies a unique role among the current heirs in Europe. For almost twenty years, he has taken on responsibility for the day to day governmental decisions in Liechtenstein despite remaining first in line. His father, Hans-Adam II, handed him that power, following a pattern set by his own father, Franz Joseph II. Alois Philipp Maria was born on June 11th 1968 in Zurich, the first child of Hans-Adam and his wife, Marie. He became heir in 1989 when his Franz Joseph II died and his father assumed power. He married Duchess Sophie in Bavaria at St. Florian’s Cathedral in Vaduz in 1993 and the couple have four children.
Crown Prince Haakon Magnus of Norway
Crown Prince Haakon Magnus will mark 32 years as heir to the throne of Norway in 2023 as well as celebrating his 50th birthday. Haakon Magnus was born on July 20th 1973 in Oslo, the second child and first son of Harald, then heir to the throne, and Sonja. In 1990, Norway’s laws changed to allow absolute primogeniture but it wasn’t made retroactive so Haakon wasn’t overtaken by his older sister, Martha Louise. Within months, their grandfather, Olav V, died and Harald became King of Norway, turning Haakon into the country’s Crown Prince. He has become a passionate advocate for environmental issues. Haakon Magus married Mette-Marit Tjessem Hjoiby in 2001 and he became stepfather to her son, Marius. They welcomed two children together, Ingrid Alexandra in 2004 and Sverre Magnus in 2005.
Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume of Luxembourg
Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume will mark 23 years as heir to the throne of Luxembourg in 2023. He was born on November 11th 1981, the first child of the then heir to the Grand Ducal throne of Luxembourg, Henri, and his wife, Maria Teresa. He was christened Guillaume Jean Joseph Marie and was educated in Luxembourg and Switzerland before attending Sandhurst Military Academy. He became heir on October 7th 2000 when his grandfather, Jean, and his father became Grand Duke Henri. Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume carries out a wide range of engagements in Luxembourg and abroad. He married Stephanie de Lannoy in 2012 and the couple has two sons, Charles (2020) and Francois (2023).
Princess Catharina-Amalia, Princess of Orange
Princess Catharina-Amalia will mark ten years as heir to the throne of the Netherlands in 2023. She was born on December 7th 2003 in The Hague and christened Catharina-Amalia Beatrix Carmen Victoria in June 2004. As the first child of the then heir to the throne, Willem-Alexander, and his wife, Maxima, she was second in line from birth. In April 2013, her grandmother, Beatrix, abdicated and her father became the first King of the Netherlands in over a century. Amalia, as she is always called, became heir at the age of 8. She took the traditional title for the first in line and became Princess of Orange. She was educated in The Hague before beginning a university degree in Amsterdam. However, she had to change her living accommodation after threats. The Princess of Orange takes on engagements with her family in the Netherlands and has represented them at several high profile recent events including the reception ahead of the Coronation of King Charles III and the wedding of Crown Prince Hussein and Princess Rajwa of Jordan.
Princess Elisabeth, Duchess of Brabant
Princess Elisabeth has been heir to her country’s throne for a decade as of July 2023 and will make history when she does succeed as she will be the first queen regnant in Belgium’s history. Elisabeth Therese Marie Helene was born on October 25th 2001 in Brussels, the first child of Philippe, then heir to the throne, and his wife, Mathilde. She was joined later by two brothers, Gabriel and Emmanuel, and a sister, Eleonore. On July 21st 2013, her father became King of the Belgians and Elisabeth was now heir, at the age of 11. She was styled as Duchess of Brabant, the traditional title for the first in line. Her groundbreaking role as female heir to the Belgian throne was cemented when she completed military training. She now studies at Oxford.
Princess Leonor, Princess of Asturias
Princess Leonor will mark nine years as heir to the throne of Spain in 2023 as she begins a new chapter in her royal life. Leonor y Todos los Santos was born on October 31st 2005 in Madrid, the first child of the then heir to the throne, Felipe, and his wife, Letizia. Her father referenced Spain’s succession laws when announcing her birth – a younger brother could have overtaken her and her path to the throne wasn’t guaranteed. Leonor was styled as Infanta and became second in line to the throne. She was joined by a younger sister, Sofia, in 2007. Leonor became heir on June 19th 2014 when her grandfather, Juan Carlos, abdicated and her father became King Felipe VI. She took the title of Princess of Asturias. In August 2023, Princess Leonor began her military training as her role as future queen is now assured.
Prince Jacques, Marquis of Baux
Prince Jacques will mark nine years as heir to the throne of Monaco in 2023. Currently the youngest first in line in Europe, Jacques Honore Rainier was born on December 10th 2014 in Monaco, and immediately became heir ahead of his twin sister, Princess Gabriella, who had been delivered just minutes earlier and, briefly, taken the role of heir. Monaco still retains male primogeniture. Jacques and Gabriella live with their parents, Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene, and make regular appearances at important national events.
Prince William, The Prince of Wales
(Royal Navy, OGL 3, via Wikimedia Commons)
The newest heir to the throne in Europe is the Prince of Wales. Prince William became heir to the British throne on September 8th 2022 and the accession of his father as King Charles III. William Arthur Philip Louis was born on June 21st 1982 to Charles III and Diana, Princess of Wales and was second in line from birth. He became heir on September 8th 2022 on the death of his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, and the accession of his father as King. He married Catherine Middleton on April 29th 2011 and the Prince and Princess of Wales have three children.