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 Last week I wrote of the controversy surrounding the disputed successor to the Headship of the Royal House of Saxony. This raises the question of does the head of these former ruling houses have the power to change centuries old house laws? With so many disputes after the head of the house dies, I guess the consensus is that they do not have that power or right. I think what may be closer to the truth is that the heads of these former ruling dynasties is that they have no power to make their new laws or ruling stick past their tenure as head of the house.

The Imperial House of Austria has been somewhat more successful in changing their house laws. They had had very rigid marital laws and when the now head of the house, Archduke Karl (Emperor Karl II to his supporters) married in 1993 to Baroness Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza. The marriage received the dynastic authorization of Karl’s father, Archduke Otto who was then head of the House of Habsburg, despite objections from some members of the dynasty because the brides family was not aristocratic enough. Baroness Francesca is the only daughter of Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza de Kászon, a European industrialist, and his third wife, Fiona Campbell-Walter. The Thyssen-Bornemisza family is of the nobility of pre-republican Hungary and Transylvania, but since they did not descend in the canonically legitimate male line from a family of dynastic, mediatised or alter Adel status, many former Habsburg family members protested the marriage. Since that time Otto amended the rigid marriage rules to allow marriages into noble families that would not have been deemed acceptable during the times when the dynasty ruled.

Romania is another case. King Michael was ousted in 1946 (many say illegally) and he leaves no male heir. His eldest daughter is Princess Margarita and in 2007 the king designated her as his heir with the titles of “Crown Princess of Romania” and “Custodian of the Romanian Crown.” This is technically against the Romanian kingdom’s last democratically approved constitution of 1923 which was in effect while the monarchy was extant. That constitution stated that upon the death of King Michael, and should he have no sons, the claim to the Crown devolves once again upon the Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen family from which the Romanian royal family descends.

The Constitution of 1923 provides for an agnatic primogeniture (basically the “Salic law”) which means males only may inherit the throne, barring females, and females may not pass succession rights to their children. However, the 1923 Constitution is no longer in affect but many feel that the traditions behind those ancient laws still carry the rule of the day. Under the old constitution the next in line to the Romanian throne are the descendants of Friedrich Wilhelm, Prince of Hohenzollern (1924-2010).

These are the Hohenzollern members in line to the throne under the old Constitution.

  1. Karl Friedrich, Prince of Hohenzollern (b. 1952)
  2. Alexander, Hereditary Prince of Hohenzollern (b. 1987)
  3. Prince Albrecht of Hohenzollern (b. 1954)
  1. Prince Ferdinand of Hohenzollern (b. 1960)
  2. Prince Aloys of Hohenzollern (b. 1999)
  3. Prince Fidelis of Hohenzollern (b. 2001)

The Romanian situation is complex and so I will continue with this next week and then give my overall opinion on if a former monarch or head of a former ruling dynasty does have the right to change their house laws.