Royal Hierarchy Question

After watching Man in the Iron Mask again, I have questions regarding royal heirarchy.

For anyone who’s not seen the movie or needs a refresher:
Man in the Iron Mask is like a sequel to The Three Musketeers. Athos, Porthos, and Charlie Sheen -er, Aramus have grown old and turned into Gerard Depardieu, Jeremy Irons, and John Malkovich. (Basically, both movies are drool-fests.)They’ve retired from the Musketeers, and Dartagnan (who has grown from Chris O’Donnell into Gabriel Byrne) is the Captain of the Musketeers.

Most plotting and whatnot aside, it is revealed that the Man in the Iron Mask is the twin brother of King Louis XIV, Phillipe. Up until his imprisonment by his newly-crowned brother, Phillipe had been living in relative obscurity, oft-visited by his mother, the Queen…evidently, he was unaware of her royal status.

Anyhow…blahblahblah, it is also revealed that Dartagnan, not the King, had fathered Louis and Phillipe. Here is where the line of questioning begins.

  1. Though Louis and Phillipe are not the sons of the King, are they still entitled to the throne because they are the sons of the Queen?

  2. Upon the death of the King, why does rulership go to the eldest Prince, rather than the Queen? Would it not make more sense for an adult woman to be running things than a prepubescent boy?

  3. Just because I’m curious, the widow of a King is called a Dowager, correct? What is the widow of a Queen called?

  4. If twins are born, as in this case, do they both get to be the King someday?

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WAG time:

Only if it is the Queen, not the King, who is descended from/related to the previous monarch.

Because (1) women did not, as a rule, inherit if there are any male heirs available and (2) women who married into a royal or noble family did not inherit because they are not of the royal/noble house/blood. It’s entirely possible that an underage heir might have a regent appointed (to rule until he came of age) but it would be just as likely for the regent to be a male relative (or unrelated male) as the Queen.

A king. Because, for the most part, it is the wife’s title that is received from her husband rather than the husband’s title being received from the wife. If the queen dies, the king is still the king. If the king dies, his heir is now the king and the heir’s wife is the queen, so the late king’s wife needs to be distinguished from the new queen somehow.

Only if the older one dies without sons. Or if his sons also die (either before him or without sons of their own) before the younger twin does.

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Within the French monarchy women did not inherit, the throne always went to the oldest male heir even if they had to search through acres of cousins to dig one up. In the event of twins - though it happens so rarely and never, I think in France, the first born twin is marked in some way, a ribbon or ink mark, and proclaimed heir. His twin is relegated to ‘spare’ status (Every king wants an heir and a spare). First born is first born, after all. If the first born twin has sons they will inherit before the twin brother, if not, brother dear gets the throne.

If it had ever come to light that the queen was schtupping someone other than the king, she may well have been tried for treason since anything coming out of her womb was expected to be royal, not common. She may well have been executed for treason. This was,in fact, one of the arguments used against both Anne Bolyne and Catherine Howard
in their trials and they were executed for ‘treason’ under Henry VIII of Great Britain.

If we leave France for the moment, and assume the demise of Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain, her widowed husband is simply the Duke of Edinburgh, he is not and never was king. Usually if a woman inherits and is queen, her husband becomes the prince regent on the assumption that making him king would mess up the line of descent and/or wrest power from the legit monarch.

The dominant male role is still present in current monarchies. Take, say, The Netherlands (how’s that for a surprise !).

When we have a Queen (as we do currently, Queen Beatrix), her husband is called Prince (so, Prince Claus, in this case) because naming him king would take too much attention away from the queen, who’s the REAL Dutch royalty in the first place.

However, in a few years time, we will have a King again for the first time in over 100 years, King Willem IV (the current Prince Willem-Alexander). Now, if he’s to marry, his wife will be called Queen <insert queen name here> because the King is the dominant part anyway and naming his wife queen doesn’t take the attention off him as ruler of the state.

Oldfashioned, but still true.

For information on the Dutch Royal Family and the Dutch monarchy, check this site:


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