At present, there are twelve reigning hereditary monarchies in Europe: Belgium, Denmark, Great Britain, Lichtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, and Sweden.
The Kingdom of Belgium
The ruling family of Belgium is the Saxe Coburg and Gotha family of the House of Wettin. The family came to power in 1830 after a revolution. The current monarch of Belgium is King Albert II, who succeeded his brother, King Baudouin in July 1993.
King Albert is married to Queen Paola. Queen Paola was born in Italy and is the daughter of Prince Ruffo di Calabria, 6th Duke of Guardia Lomarda and Luisa, a descendant of the marquis de Lafayette. They have three children: Prince Philippe, Princess Astrid, and Prince Laurent.
The throne is hereditary and is passed to the first born child, regardless of gender, after the previous Salian Law was overturned in 1992. Prince Philippe is the heir to the throne. If the reigning monarch has no direct descendents, then he or she may choose a successor.
The Kingdom of Denmark
The ruling family of Denmark is the House of Slesvig-Holsten-Sønderborg-Glücksborg. It is one of the oldest dynasties in Europe, originating in 899 with the reign of Gorm the Old. The current monarch is Queen Margrethe II, who succeeded her father, King Frederik IX in January 1972.
Queen Margrethe is married to Prince Consort Henrik, who was born Henri de Laborde de Monpézat, the son of Count André de Laborde de Monpezat and Renée Doursenot. They have two children: Crown Prince Frederik and Prince Joachim.
The throne is hereditary and, since 1953, may pass to either male or female children, however males are generally given priority in the line of succession. Crown Prince Frederik is the heir to the throne.
The Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
The ruling family of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the House of Windsor. Originally the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, the dynasty became the ruling family after the death of Queen Victoria in 1901. The family’s name was changed to Windsor by King George V as a result of anti-German sentiment during World War I. The current queen is Queen Elizabeth II, who succeeded her father, King George VI, in February 1952. In 2012, she celebrated her Diamond Jubilee, only the second British monarch to do so.
Queen Elizabeth is married to Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Prince Philip is a member of the Greek royal family. His family was exiled from Greece when he was a young child. They have four children: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales; Princess Anne, the Princess Royal; Prince Andrew, Duke of York; and Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex.
The throne of Great Britain is hereditary and gives precedence to male children. However, there is currently pending legislation that will overturn this law and the first born child will inherit the throne. Prince Charles is the heir to the throne.
The Principality of Liechtenstein
The ruling family of the Principality of Liechtenstein is the House of Liechtenstein. The principality was formed in 1719 and became a sovereign state in 1806. The current sovereign is Prince Hans Adam II, who succeeded his father, Franz Josef, in November 1989.
Prince Hans Adam is married to Princess Marie, Countess Kinsky von Wchinitz und Tettau. Princess Maries is the daughter of Count Ferdinand Kinsky of Wchinitz and Tettau and Countess Henriette Caroline of Ledebur-Wicheln. They have four children Hereditary Prince Alois, Prince Maximilian, Prince Constantin, and Princess Tatjana.
Succession is by the first born male. The heir to the throne is Hereditary Prince Alois. If there is no living male heir, eldest female becomes the heir.
The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
The current ruling family of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is the House of de Nassau. Luxembourg became a grand duchy in 1815 and became a sovereign state in 1867. The current royal family came to power in 1890 after King William III of the Netherlands died without an heir and the throne passed to the Duke of Nassau. The current sovereign is Grand Duke Henri, who succeeded his father, Grand Duke Jean, after he abdicated in October 2000.
Grand Duke Henri is married to Grand Duchess Maria Teresa, a descendent of Spanish nobility. They have five children: Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume, Félix, Louis, Alexandra, and Sébastien.
The throne is hereditary and is given only to male children. The heir to the throne is Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume. If the Grand Duke has no male heirs, then the line of succession passes to another branch of the family.
The Principality of Monaco
The current ruling family of the Principality of Monaco is the Grimaldi family. The Grimaldi family has ruled Monaco for over 700 years, with a brief exile during the French Revolution. The current monarch is Sovereign Prince Albert II, who succeeded his father Sovereign Prince Rainier III in April 2005.
Prince Albert is married to Charlene Wittstock, a former South African Olympic swimmer. They have no children, although Prince Albert has two illegitimate children.
Succession is hereditary and male children are given precedence over female children. If the Reigning Prince has no legitimate children, then the throne passes to the brothers of the prince and their children. If the prince has no brothers, then the line of succession passes to the eldest sister. The current heir to the throne is Prince Caroline, Prince Albert’s sister, however, if Prince Albert and his wife have a son, then he will become the Hereditary Prince and heir.
The Kingdom of the Netherlands
The current ruling family of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is the House of Orange-Nassau. The Netherlands became a kingdom during the nineteenth century, but the House of Orange-Nassau has ruled the area for over 600 years. The current monarch is Queen Beatrix, who succeeded her mother, Queen Juliana, after her abdication in April 1980.
Queen Beatrix was married to Claus von Amsberg, who passed away in 2002. He was a son of Calus Felix von Amsberg, a member of the Germany nobility, and Baroness Gösta von dem Bussche-Haddenhausen. They have three children: Crown Prince Willem-Alexander, Johan Frisco, and Constantijn.
The line of succession follows the first-born child, male or female. The heir to the throne is Crown Prince Willem-Alexander. He will become the first Dutch male monarch in over 100 years.
The Kingdom of Norway
The ruling family of the Kingdom of Norway is the House of Oldenburg. Norway became an independent kingdom in 1905 with the accession of Haakon VII. The current monarch is King Harald V who successes his father, King Olav V in January 1991.
King Harald is married to Queen Sonja, who is the daughter of Karl August Haraldsen, a clothing merchant, and his wife Dagny. They have two children: Martha Louise, and Crown Prince Haakon.
In 1990, the succession laws that gave precedence to males, was overturned. The heir to the throne is Crown Prince Haakon. In 2004 his wife, Mette-Marit, gave birth to a daughter, Prince Ingrid Alexander, who became the first female heir to Norway’s throne.
The Kingdom of Spain
The current ruling family of the Kingdom of Spain is the House of Bourbon. The family has ruled Spain almost continuously since 1700. The current monarch is King Juan Carlos who succeeded General Francisco Franco in November 1975. General Franco became the President of Spain in 1936.
King Juan Carlos is married to Queen Sofia, a member of the Greek and Dutch royal families. They have three children: Infanta Elena, Infanta Cristina, and Prince Felipe.
The line of succession gives precedence to males. Prince Felipe is the heir to the throne.
The Kingdom of Sweden
The current ruling family of the Kingdom of Sweden is the House of Bernadotte. The Bernadotte family is French in origin and has ruled Norway since 1818. The current monarch is King Carl XVI Gustaf who succeeded his grandfather King Gustaf VI Adolf in September 1973.
King Carl XVI Gustaf is married to Queen Silvia, a descendent of Portuguese royalty. They have three children: Crown Princess Victoria, Carl Philip, and Madeleine.
The succession law that favored male heirs was overturned in 1980. The heir to the throne is Crown Princess Victoria. Before 1980, her brother, Carl Philip was the heir.