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An Heir Presumptive (capitalised) is the person provisionally scheduled to inherit a throne but whose position can be displaced by the birth of an Heir Apparent or of a new Heir Presumptive with a better claim to the throne. When lowercased, heir presumptive can refer generally to someone who is provisionally scheduled to inherit a title, position or possession, unless displaced by an heir apparent or other heir presumptive. In both cases, the position is however subject to law and/or conventions that may alter who is entitled to be heir presumptive.
Depending on the rules of the monarchy in question, the heir presumptive might be the daughter of a monarch (if males take priority over females and the monarch has no sons), or the senior member of a collateral line (if the monarch is childless).
If an heir apparent is born, he becomes first-in-line to the throne, with all of his descendants taking priority over the heir presumptive in the Line of Succession. In the event of there being an heir apparent, the title "heir presumptive" lapses and is not used to describe the most senior person in the Line of Succession who is not a direct male descendant of the monarch. A woman who is in the same position is sometimes called the heiress presumptive but many monarchies increasingly choose to use heir presumptive irrespective of the sex of the holder.
For more detailed information, and a comparison between the positions of Heir Presumptive and Heir Apparent, see Heir Apparent.
Examples of current heir presumptive
Examples of heirs presumptive who inherited thrones
- Queen Mary I of England, who succeeded her half-brother King Edward VI of England
- Queen Elizabeth I of England, who succeeded her half-sister Queen Mary I of England
- King James I of England (who was James VI of Scotland), who succeeded his distant cousin Queen Elizabeth I of England
- Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, who succeeded her uncle King William IV of the United Kingdom
- King George VI of the United Kingdom, who succeeded his brother King Edward VIII of the United Kingdom
- Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, who succeeded her father King George VI of the United Kingdom
- King Albert II of the Belgians, who succeeded his brother King Baudouin of the Belgians
- King Paul of Greece, who succeeded his brother King George II of Greece
- King Oscar II of Sweden, who succeeded his brother King Charles XV of Sweden
- Queen Ulrike Eleonora of Sweden, who succeeded her brother King Charles XII of Sweden
- King Charles X of Sweden, who succeeded his cousin Queen Christina of Sweden
- King John III of Sweden, who succeeded his brother King Eric XIV of Sweden
- Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, who succeeded her father King Frederik IX of Denmark
Examples of heirs presumptive who didn't inherit those thrones
- Roger Mortimer, 4th Earl of March was heir presumptive of King Richard II of England but predeceased him.
- Edmund Mortimer, 5th Earl of March, also named by Richard II, did not succeed as Richard II was deposed by Henry IV of England.
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