1. If a reigning monarch (let’s say a king) abdicates in favor of his son, what exactly is the ex-king’s status and position? Does he revert to being a prince or the Duke of whatever?

  2. As far as European royalty goes, is there a point at which the crown of a certain country has been vacant so long that it’s considered extinct? e.g., is someone still clinging to the title of “heir to the Polish throne”? And does it make a difference if the country was absorbed by another monarchy (Poland conquered by the Russian Tsar), as opposed to a revolution by the lower classes (Russia)?

  1. Yes, that’s what happened to the last king of G.B, you’ll recall. He bacame the Duke of Windsor.

  2. There are long lists of “pretenders to the thones”, the actual official term for the un-coronated heirs to the thone. They all are playing “government in exile”, but with varying grins on their faces. They keep up the pose mainly for fame and to attract monied supporters to sponge off of.

A family can go on claiming to be the legitimate royal family of a country for as long as it wants. How long anyone will take them seriously is another matter. There are, as Lumpy says, many royal families in exile, including Greece, Romania, Albania, Bulgaria and Italy. There are also various aristocrats in Germany who retain titles like “Prinz von und zu …”, but who make no claim on actual authority.

Poland is a special case however. Poland/Lithuania had an elective monarchy (known as the noble republic) before the partitions, and since it wasn’t hereditary, nobody can say he is the rightful king, based on ancestry. After 1815, a puppet kingdom persisted with the Tsar as king of part of Poland, so you are correct that this would have helped to suppress a native monarchy.

What Poland did have for years was a government in exile. During WWII the government set up shop in London, and most did not return because of the Communist takeover. This government went on issuing proclamations, etc., at least into the eighties.

There’s a saying that can be applied to those who wait for a throne to come to them:

“The distance between genius and insanity is measured by success.” ~ The Marquis de Sade

In the case of Edward VIII, he didn’t revert to any former title. The new king, George VI, gave him the title of “Duke of Windsor,” which was an entirely new creation. [Minor quibble with little me: Edward VIII was not the last king of the U.K.; his brother, George VI was the most recent king, succeeded by his daughter, Elizabeth II.]

Mind you, Edward’s abdication was highly controversial, and was not a “retirement,” as suggested in the OP. He abdicated for love, and did not leave an heir of his body on the throne.

For a better example, considered the Netherlands. I believe that the current Queen’s mother and grandmother both abdicated in the “retirement” sense - maybe our friendly Coldfire could help explain?

A question comes to mind off of *jti’s question, which could have affected Edward, Duke of Windsor. Why would a monarch have to renounce any of the titles he/she had before the coronation? It is my understanding that Elizabeth II holds a few “minor” titles, though I can’t remember off-hand what they are. If she resigned, couldn’t she just keep them?

I believe the answer is that you can’t just abdicate part of the job. Edward could be king, or not. If he chose “not,” he was giving up the whole ball of wax. In fact, in His Majesty’s Declaration of Abdication Act, they equated the abdication to a “demise of the Crown,” the technical legal statement that the king has died.

As well, some of the titles (like Duke of Cornwall and Prince of Wales) vest in the current monarch if there is no direct heir.

I guess what I was thinking of was, at what point do the dispossessed stop receiving the courtesy of royal treatment from other monarchs- invitations to balls, etc.?

Yes, Queen Wilhemina (sp?) of the Netherlands retired, as did HER daughter, Queen Juliana.

Also, I think also that Edward VIII never wanted to be king in the first place-Wallis was just his excuse.

As I believe I mentioned in another thread, I found a website that had something to do with a Palaeologus who says he descends from the Palaeologian dynasty of the Eastern Roman Empire. However, I don’t know whether he is a pretender to the throne.
And by the way, that throne rose up on hydraulic lifts, and the smoke of incense was all over the throne room when visitors were admitted, who had to be prostrate as it was. It must have been an awesome sight, and may have inspired L. Frank Baum in the famed Wizard of Oz scene, in which a talking head is ominously floating in swirls of smoke.

Oh, and btw, Poland wasn’t just under the Russian Tsars…it was split up, between Russia, Austria, and Prussia, I believe.
It WAS the work of Catherine the Great, I think.

When the relationship gets too distant for anyone to care any more. Seriously. When royals of one country are invited to (say) a wedding in the royal family of another country, it’s not because of their official status so much as bonds of kinship and friendship. So the deposed King of Greece gets lots of invitations, because he’s some (identifiable) form of cousin to many royal houses. The pretender to the throne of Outer Slobonia has a much less interesting social calendar, because at best he has tentative family connections to a few royal houses and might be chums with one or two others.

The only sort of invitation that has any official status is an invitation to make a state visit. Those dry up as soon as the monarch is removed from the throne.

There are a number of guys who claim this, and as far as I know, they are all frauds. According to this and that, the Palaeologues either died out or married into other royal families.

According to Correct Form and Titles and Forms of Address, a former monarch retains royal status, with modifications in the title. A reigning monarch is referred to as “John XIX, King of Blank”, while a former monarch is referred to as “King John XVIII of Blank”.

The pretender to a vacant throne uses the titles he would have held if his parent were ruling. If Britain became a republic, and Elizabeth and Charles died, William would be the Duke of Cornwall.

King Edward VIII was an exception. When he abdicated, he became plain old Prince Edward. Then George VI created him Duke of Windsor.

For example, the pretender to the French throne goes by the title of “Comte de Paris.”

And the Yugoslavian pretender is Prince Alexander, Crown Prince of Yugoslavia.