Heirs to the Throne in the Constitutional Monarchies of Nineteenth-Century Europe (1815-1914)

AHRCA Research Project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and based at the University of St Andrews


Here’s to our third Royal Annual – and to the project!


It is with mixed feelings – pride tinged with some sadness – that we are presenting this third and final Royal Annual: another twelve essays addressing aspects of the lives and functions of royal heirs in 19th-century Europe. As before all of them have been produced by members and friends of the Heirs to the Throne project.

We would like to renew our thanks to the AHRC and to the authors of these insightful vignettes. We are pleased to be able to offer them yet again as a collated digital ‘volume’ – carefully packaged to afford our readers maximum convenience along with – hopefully – fruitful and enjoyable reading.

As our project formally completed its five-year run in March 2017, this will be the final annual. Over the years we have produced and published 36 separate essays. We intend to keep our online presence going as a lively meeting place for scholars and lay folk with an interest in the monarchical history of 19th-century Europe. So please keep visiting us here and on our social media sites to find out more about forthcoming talks, publications and initiatives. The website will also continue to offer visitors easy access to the growing number of our HOTM podcasts.

We would like to thank everyone who has contributed to our project to date and hope that our readers will continue to find our work interesting and engaging.

Oh, and in the unlikely case you happen to have missed reading the two first volumes, here is the whole family for you:

NEW: Heir of the Month: The Third Year 2015-2016 (pdf version)

Heir of the Month: The Second Year 2014-2015 (pdf version)

Heir of the Month: The First Year 2013-2014 (pdf version)

 St Andrews – Aberdeen – Berlin / May 2017

Heidi Mehrkens & Frank Lorenz Müller


What’s the project about?

On the eve of the First World War Europe was a continent of monarchies. A long 19th century of revolutions, wars, growing literacy, an expanding public sphere, political parties appealing to enlarged electorates, changes in social, economic, intellectual and technological life and imperial expansion lay behind them, but the continent’s monarchical systems had survived these changes in surprisingly rude health. That monarchies had flourished throughout these profound transformations points to their suppleness and ingenuity. This research project focuses, for the first time, systematically and comparatively on the roles played and contributions made by those waiting to come into the glittering inheritance of a European crown. The biological realities of hereditary rule made heirs to the throne a crucial part of monarchical systems. By analysing the heirs to the continent’s many thrones, the project offers a new perspective on the political culture of the states and societies of 19th-century Europe. The project builds on the rich body of recent research that engages with 19th-century monarchy in the fields of media history, cultural history and transnational history. It addresses thematic questions across several constitutional monarchies: Did heirs to the throne stabilise monarchical government or were they corrosive of the current reign? What were the international and military roles of heirs? Did heirs function as intermediaries between the sovereign and the people? How important were new “bourgeois” styles of princely comportment and the creation of a celebrity public image through various media? Were heirs perceived as embodying generational change? Were heirs engaged in generating “soft power”? The project explores the resourcefulness, media acumen and societal integration of 19th-century monarchies. It will complement and challenge interpretations which emphasize their allegedly oppressive elements and help to explain the lasting popularity of monarchy. Two international conferences took place in 2013 and 2015.

Europe’s Crown Princes processing in front of Queen Victoria (1887)

Europe’s Crown Princes processing in front of Queen Victoria (1887)