In the English-speaking world, the term Royal Family refers to the House of Windsor, the British Royal Family headed by Queen Elizabeth II.
However, there are many other royal families out there. Japan, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Nepal, Denmark, Belgium, Spain, Holland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Norway, and Jordan are just a few of the countries with reigning royal families.
Moreover, there are other Royal Families out of power you may have never heard of. Some of the other Royal Families you have never heard of include:
The Brazilian Imperial Family
Brazil was an absolute monarchy ruled by an emperor for its first 67 years of independence.
The Brazilian monarchy originated when Napoleon I overran Portugal. To keep out of the French Emperor’s clutches the Portuguese Royal Family; or Most Serene House of Braganza, fled to Brazil – then a Portuguese colony.
By 1822, Napoleon had lost his empire and was in exile on Saint Helena. Meanwhile, Latin American nations were successfully revolting against Spain. To keep Brazil in the family, Prince Pedro of Braganza declared himself Constitutional Emperor and Perpetual Defender of Brazil.
Pedro liked Brazil better than Portugal, where he was heir to the throne. Pedro I never returned home. Why settle for being king when you can be emperor? After all, an emperor outranks a king.
Pedro’s successor, his son Pedro II, or Dom Pedro, ruled Brazil for 58 years. A military coup overthrew Pedro and launched the Brazilian Republic in 1889.
After the coup, they banished the House of Braganza from Brazil until 1920.
In that year,the bodies of Dom Pedro II; who had died in exile in France, and his wife, arrived in Brazil for burial. The government barred some members of the House of Braganza who refused to renounce the throne from returning to Brazil until after World War II.
Today there are two pretenders to the Imperial Throne of Brazil from rival branches of the House of Braganza.
His Royal Highness Prince Bertrand of Orléans-Braganza heads the Vassouras branch of the family. His Royal Highness Prince Dom Pedro Carlos of Orléans-Braganza represents the Petrópolis branch of the family. Interestingly, Prince Dom Pedro Carlos considers himself a republican who opposes restoration of the monarchy.
Notably, Prince Dom Pedro Carlos is a first cousin of Prince Jean, Count of Paris, the Orleanist pretender to the throne of France. He is also a first cousin of Duarte Pio, Duke of Braganza the pretender to the throne of Portugal, and King Felipe VI of Spain.
New Zealand’s Other Royal Family
New Zealand has two royal families. The country’s head of state is Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II.
However, there is another monarch in New Zealand. Tūheitia Potatau Te Wherowhero VII, or Kiingi Tūheitia, is the Māori King of New Zealand.
The Māori King movement began in the 1850s an effort to unite New Zealand’s Māori people against the British invasion. The idea was to give the Māori one leader to follow in their wars against the British.
The movement failed as New Zealand became a Dominion of the British Empire. However, the Māori monarchs survived and Queen Waikato-Tainui signed a Deed of Settlement with the Crown in 1995. Under document signed by Queen Elizabeth II, New Zealand’s government gave the Māoris $170 million and land to compensate for stolen property.
Kiingi Tūheitia the son of Queen Waikato-Tainui is the current Māori King of New Zealand. Thus, New Zealand, one of the world’s most democratic countries, has two monarchs.
The Three Royal Families of France
France, the nation many consider the center of modern republicanism, has three royal families. However, nobody has sat on the French throne for 151 years.
Moreover, there are three rival royalist movements in France, each claiming to support the true heirs to a monarchy that no longer exists. In fact, one reason France is a Republic is that French monarchists could never agree on which royal family deserved the throne.
France’s three monarchist movements are the Legitimists, the Orleanists, and the Bonapartists. Each of these groups claims to support a true heir to the French throne.
The House of Bourbon:
The Legitimists claim that the House of Bourbon which ruled France from 1272 to 1793 and 1814 to 1830 is the legitimate French royal family. French Legitimists, have a big problem because the direct line of Charles X; the last Bourbon King of France, died out in 1883.
Instead, today’s Legitimist pretenders are part of the Spanish Royal Family, which is not popular with French patriots. Given the legal drama surrounding former Spanish King Juan Carlos, it is easy to see why the Bourbons are a hard sale in France.
Another problem is that the current Legitimist Pretender Louis Alphonse de Bourbon is also a great grandson of Spanish dictator Generalissimo Francisco Franco. Bourbon is also an heir to the Dukedom of Franco. Hence it is doubtful that he’ll ever get near the French throne.
The House of Orleans
The Orleanists claim that the true royal family of France is the House of Orleans.
The House of Orleans originated as a branch of the House of Bourbon. From 1709 until the French Revolution, some males members of the House of Orleans were in the line of succession for the French throne.
The House of Orleans became France’s royal family after the July Revolution of 1830 drove the Bourbons from the throne. One member of the House of Orleans, Louis-Phillipe, served as France’s constitutional monarch from 1830 until 1848.
Unlike the Legitimists who think the Bourbons are heirs to the title King of France, the Orleanists use the title King of the French. The idea is the Orleans monarchs are kings of the people rather than the nation.
The current Orleanist heir is Jean Count of Paris. Rapid Orleanists consider him Jean IV, King of the French.
The Bonapartists want to restore the French Empire of Napoleon I and Napoleon III. Hence the Bonapartist pretenders lay claim to the title Emperor of France.
Interestingly, today’s Bonapartist pretenders are not descendants of either Emperor of France. To elaborate, Napoleon I’s son, Napoleon Francois the King of Rome died young without children. Napoleon III’s son Prince Napoleon died childless in the Anglo-Zulu War in 1879.
Instead, today’s Bonapartist pretenders descend from Napoléon-Jérôme Bonaparte or Jérôme Bonaparte. Jérôme Bonaparte was the son of Napoleon’s youngest brother, Jerome, the King of Westphalia.
His cousin Emperor Napoleon III gave Jérôme Bonaparte the title Prince Napoleon. The current Bonapartist heir Jean-Christophe, Prince Napoléon, has little faith in returning to the throne. Jean-Christophe works as an investment banker.
Strangely, the Bonapartists claim to represent the principles of the French Revolution. However, Bonapartists believe the ideology of the French revolution was loyalty to France rather than liberty, equality, and fraternity.
Ironically, one emperor the Bonapartists admire, Napoleon III was also the first president of France. To explain, voters elected Napoleon III the first president of France after the overthrow of the July Monarchy in 1848. Napoleon III later proclaimed himself emperor.
The Monarchist Republic
Strangely, Napoleon III is the father of the French Republic. Napoleon III’s defeat and capture by the Germans in the Franco-Prussian War left France without a head of state.
To fill the vacuum, members of the French parliament organized a Government of National Defense and selected a president. In 1871, after France’s surrender, they held elections for a French National Assembly.
Ironically, monarchists won a majority of the seats in National Assembly of the French Republic. However, no monarchist party had enough seats to elect its pretender, monarch. Instead, the Legitimists, Orleanists, and Bonapartists all preferred a Republic to having the other guys’ monarch on the throne.
The Legitimists and Orleanists almost restored the throne in 1871 with a compromise. Under the compromise the Legitimist heir, the Comte de Chambord would become king. However, de Chambord’s heir would be the Comte de Paris a grandson of Louis-Phillipe.
The compromise failed because de Chambord refused to accept the Tricolor as France’s national flag. De Chambord hated the Tricolor because it was the flag of the French Revolutionaries who executed his relatives King Louis XIVI and Queen Marie Antoinette. Asking de Chambord to accept a Tricolor was like asking a Jew to accept a Swaztica flag.
Instead, the monarchists agreed to a temporary republic to keep their rivals off the throne. The temporary republic still exists 150 years later.
De Chambord’s stubbornness led to the Third Republic which lasted until the Nazi defeat of France in 1940. During the decades between 1871 and 1940, social changes sparked by the industrial revolution made other concerns such as worker rights the principal issues of French politics.
Thus there are more royal families out there than most people realize. Even though monarchies often disappear, the royal families remain.