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

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


Best way to spend a long, dark winter evening:
a seriously enthralling read!


Hope you’ll like our latest arrival: “Royal Heirs and the Uses of Soft Power in 19th-Century Europe“, edited by Frank Lorenz Müller and Heidi Mehrkens.

We proudly present a fascinating selection of studies exploring the soft power tools used by heirs to the throne in order to enhance the communication of monarchies with their audiences during the nineteenth-century:

  • ‘Winning their Trust and Affection’: Royal Heirs and the Uses of Soft Power in Nineteenth-Century Europe (Frank Lorenz Müller)
  • The Royal Shop Window: Royal Heirs and the Monarchy in Post-Risorgimento Italy, 1860–78 (Maria-Christina Marchi)
  • A Visible Presence. Royal Events, Media Images and Popular Spectatorship in Oscarian Sweden (Kristina Widestedt)
  • Royal Ambassadors – Monarchical Public Diplomacy and the United States (Erik Goldstein)
  • Ocular Sovereignty, Acclamatory Rulership, and Political Communication: Visits of Princes of Wales to Bengal (Milinda Banerjee)
  • The Power of Presence – Crafting a Norwegian Identity for the Bernadotte Heirs (Trond Norén Isaksen)
  • Bertie Prince of Wales: Prince Hal and the Widow of Windsor (Jane Ridley)
  • Archduke Franz Ferdinand – an Uncharming Prince? (Alma Hannig)
  • Dynastic Heritage and Bourgeois Morals. Monarchy and Family in the Nineteenth Century (Monika Wienfort)
  • The Importance of Looking the Part: Heirs and Male Aesthetics in Nineteenth-Century Spain (Richard Meyer Forsting)
  • How to Fashion the Popularity of the British Monarchy: Alexandra, Princess of Wales and the Attractions of Attire (Imke Polland)
  • Love, Duty and Diplomacy: The Mixed Response to the 1947 Engagement of Princess Elizabeth (Edward Owens)
  • A ‘Sporting Hermes’ – Crown Prince Constantine and the Ancient Heritage of Modern Greece (Miriam Schneider)
  • The King as Father, Orangism and the Uses of a Hero: King William I of the Netherlands and the Prince of Orange, 1815-1840 (Jeroen Koch)
  • Narrating Prince Wilhelm of Prussia: Commemorative Biography as Monarchical Politics of Memory (Frederik Frank Sterkenburgh)
  • How European was Nineteenth-Century Royal Soft Power? (Heidi Mehrkens)
Merry Christmas, everyone!



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)