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Sometimes, royal title in a male-favouring system can't be inherited by a king's daughter, but can be inherited by the man who marries her. The throne can be passed on via a princess, but not solely to her. She'll instead be placed somewhere on a scale of royal wives—if she's lucky, perhaps as co-ruler, but if she's not, perhaps just as a convenient tool who ceases to be useful as soon as the marriage goes through. In some cases, this is even retroactive: a woman who has already inherited will be demoted to consort if she later marries.


This can be involved in a number of plots.

Similar things occur with royal widows. Another variant is when instead of the husband claiming the throne directly, he becomes regent to a son who he produced with his chosen princess for that purpose. A downplayed version is where the husband isn't actually going to inherit anything through the marriage, but thinks lineage makes for a good Trophy Wife.



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     Anime and Manga 
  • Berserk: The king of Midland has only one child, Princess Charlotte, and whoever marries her will become the kings' heir. Griffith, an ambitious commoner who hopes to get a kingdom of his own, works hard to impress the king with repeated victories in battle, while at the same time using all his charm to sweep the naive princess off her feet. Since Charlotte is not yet engaged the king's brother Count Julius and Julius's son Adonis are actually second and third in line, but Griffith manages to eliminate them after Julius's unsuccessful attempt on Griffith's life. After winning the hundred year war for Midland, Griffith blows his chance when he has a Freak Out over Guts leaving the band of the Hawk, and gets himself imprisoned and tortured by the king for deflowering Charlotte. Charlotte helps Griffith's followers to spring him out of prison, and has no choice but to say goodbye. Then come the Millennium Falcon Arc, Emperor Ganishka invades Midland and intends to legitimize his conquest by forcing Charlotte to bear his children. Griffith miraculously returns to rescue Charlotte and all of Midland, with them being none the wiser about the Deal with the Devil Griffith made in the Eclipse. Now a Villain with Good Publicity, Griffith is once again set to marry Charlotte and make his kingship official.
  • Shigurui:
    • Iwamoto Kogan, founder of the fearsome Kogan-Ryu style of swordsmanship, is ever more obsessed with securing the future of his school. Much to his frustration, his only child Mie is a girl. Therefore he makes his two best students, Irako Seigen and Fujiki Gennosuke, compete for the honor of marrying Mie and inheriting the dojo. While Gennosuke genuinely admires Mie and wants to serve his master, Irako is deceitful and wants it all for himself.
    • Old Master Ichidensai Funaki didn't used to have any problem with the succession of his dojo, since he had twin sons to carry on his style, but when they are slain by Gennosuke and Irako on orders from Kogan, Ichidensai is left only with his daughter Chika. Chika is in fact a Lad-ette Action Girl whose skill is mightier than any of her father's remaining male students, but tradition still requires that her father pick a husband for her and make him the heir to the dojo. As the Engagement Challenge, Ichidensai holds a "Helmet-Throwing" contest to see which student can best cut through a thrown helmet in midair. This plan runs into some snags: one is that Chika has some intersex genitalia that she doesn't want anyone to know about, leading to apprehension about her wedding night. The other is that she's got a Yandere stalker in the grotesque, toad-like ex-student Gannosuke, who starts murdering each new husband Chika gets before they can even consummate the marriage.
  • Because Tendo Soun from Rumiko Takahashi's Ranma ½ has only three daughters and no sons, there is a danger that his fine dojo will become nothing more than a legacy holding to his sons-in-law. This is his principal reason for advocating the courtship of his youngest daughter Akane to his old friend's son, Saotome Ranma: Ranma is an accomplished martial artist who would have a keen interest in keeping a thriving dojo.
  • This is initially the case for Princess Yumina Urnea Belfast in In Another World with My Smartphone. (A male cousin would've been higher in the line of succession, but Yumina only had a single female cousin.) As such, her parents are eager to push her into an Arranged Marriage with main protagonist Mochizuki Touya after he foils an assassination plot on the King's life (and passes a Secret Test of Character via Yumina's Mystical Eyes). Touya is initially hesitant about marrying Yumina, but she eventually grows on him (as do his other eventual fiancées), but he has no interest in ruling the Kingdom of Belfast. Later in the light novels, this last point is subverted twice, as the King and Queen of Belfast eventually have a son to take over as the Crown Prince, while Touya himself becomes the ruler of a small Duchy that's established for him.
  • Gender Flipped in Dog Days. Clarifier declared her best friend Adelaide to be her successor as the ruler of Pastillage shortly before her death instead of her younger brother Valério. Admittedly, it's never definitively stated that Adelaide and Valério are a married couple, but it is very heavily implied.
  • In Dr. Stone, the position of Village Chief is gained by winning a fighting tournament and then marrying the Village Priestess, who is always the daughter of the chief and previous priestess. This is important in the early part of the manga, as the strongest warrior in the village, Magma, is a Jerkass who doesn't care for the current priestess, Ruri and just wanted the throne. This motivates the various members of the Kingdom of Science, most of whom are close to Ruri, to join the tournmanent in order to save her. In the end, Senku wins but immediately divorces her, both for the sake of Chrome, who he knows loves her, and because he doesn't want to be married, though he still becomes village chief after curing her pneumonia.
  • In the manga of Vision of Escaflowne, the king of Asturia has three daughters and no sons. The eldest, Marlene, is deceased and the second, Eries, refuses to marry. As such, the throne is expected to pass to the husband of the third princess, Millerna, who is currently unmarried. Oddly enough, the eldest princess was actually married with a son before her death but neither of them seem to be considered for the throne, presumably because she married the ruler of another country.
  • Played with several times in How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom:
    • Before the story starts, Albert becomes king of Elfrieden because he married the only surviving member of the royal family. His wife, Elisha, could take the throne, but the royal family is so controversial that putting someone else on the throne is safest.
    • Souma is given the throne directly by Albert, but he is still engaged to Liscia, the princess, to give the abdication more legitimacy. Souma later also takes over Amidonia and again gets legitimacy by marrying the Roroa, princess of that country.
    • After being driven out of his country, Julius Amidonia marries the princess of the Kingdom of Lastania, and he's set to become the next king rather than Tia Lastania taking the throne. It's unclear if this is because the monarch has to be male or Tia just doesn't want to rule.
  • In One Piece, Sterry, Sabo's adopted younger brother, became king of Goa Kingdom via marrying the kingdom's princess, Sarie Nantokanette, and then inheriting the throne after her father and brother mysteriously died. It's heavily implied Sterry killed his in-laws to get to the throne. Since we never see them in their kingdom, it's unknown whether Sterry does all the ruling or whether he and Sarie share power.

     Comic Books 

     Film - Animated 
  • In Disney's Aladdin, this the plan of Jafar, the Evil Chancellor. By using his magic on the Sultan, he plans to secure a marriage to Princess Jasmine, the sultan's daughter, and gain the throne through his marriage to her. It doesn't seem that he intends for his new wife to live long after his ascension.
    Iago: You marry the princess, all right? [...] Then you become the sultan! [...] And then, we drop papa-in-law and the little woman off a cliff.
  • Shrek:
    • In Shrek, Lord Farquaad wanted to marry Princess Fiona solely because it would make him a king. When he discovers Fiona's curse, he plans to keep her locked away and never be seen again. Unfortunately for him, his reign doesn't last too long before he becomes dragon food.
    • It is later revealed in Shrek 2: Charming and Fiona had been betrothed so that Charming could become king. This was to repay his mother, the Fairy Godmother, for turning her father into a human so he could be with Fiona's mother. This fails as Fiona had fallen in love with Shrek and married him instead.
    • Comes up again in Shrek the Third: after King Harold dies, Shrek goes to find Fiona's cousin, Arthur, so he can avoid this trope, as he doesn't want to be stuck with royal duties. Apparently, the idea of Fiona just ruling alone never crosses anybody's mind.
  • In The Swan Princess, Rothbart's motive for cursing Odette is blackmailing her into marrying him. This is his backup plan after he failed to take over the kingdom by force with his magic, saying that if he's the legitimate king he won't have to spend his life defending the position. (Because nobody will object to an exiled criminal suddenly marrying the recently-orphaned princess?)
  • This is the driving force of Enchanted, Queen Nerissa wants to stop her stepson, Prince Edward from marrying Giselle for fear of losing the throne to them. Though Edward would presumably be the actual ruler, Nerissa focuses all her attention on Giselle and throws all her accusations of her throne being stolen at Giselle, not Edward.

     Film - Live Action 
  • Terry Gilliam's film version of Jabberwocky has Dennis given this as his Standard Hero Reward, although he doesn't actually want it. He has an Unrequited Love for his peasant neighbour Griselda, who is generally unpleasant to him.
  • In Maleficent, Stephan becomes king by marrying the former king's daughter. She doesn't rule and barely even has a presence in the story.
  • In Curse of the Golden Flower the Emperor is heavily implied to be this. He was a brilliant and recently widowed general who appeared to marry the previous emperor's only daughter, the now Empress. But he had to get rid of his beloved first wife to do so.

  • In Sean Russell's The Initiate Brother, Nishima is not only the most visible heir to the previous imperial dynasty, she's the ward of a powerful lord who is not on good terms with the current one. As such, she's an obvious focus for discontent, and the general assumption is that whoever marries her will be put forward as a challenger to the Emperor with her lineage as an excuse. By the end of the story, however, Nishima has actually become Empress in her own right, unmarried.
  • The Children of the Black Sun trilogy features confusion between a culture where this can happen and one where it can't. Mira is the daughter of a clan chief, and a Mesentreian noble thinks that bargaining with the clan to marry her is the same thing as securing eventual rulership for himself. Ricalani clans don't actually work like that, and all he'd get out of the marriage is Mira herself, but unfortunately for Mira, her clan is quite happy to take advantage of his misunderstanding and strike a deal.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Ramsay Snow has used marriage twice to acquire (or legitimise his acquisition) of power. One of theses instances utilizes trickery — he claims to be married to Arya Stark, strengthening his position in the lands the Starks used to rule, but in fact, the girl in question is not Arya Stark at all, but is actually Jeyne Poole posing as Arya.
    • Lord Tywin's desire for Tyrion to go through with a marriage to another member of the Stark family, Sansa, has a similar rationale. Robb Stark goes so far as to disinherit Sansa to stop her marriage being used as an excuse for House Lannister to rule the North.
      • Ironically, this trope once applied to the Lannisters themselves. When an old Lannister king died without male heirs, his son-in-law took the Lannister surname and was crowned as the first King of the Rock (the old royal title of the Lannisters before the Conquest) of Andal descent.
      • There is also the tale of the Lannister's mythical progenitor Lann the Clever, who originally took the Rock from the Casterlys (now only remembered for the name Casterly Rock). While folklore attributes the feat to many elaborate scams, they all boil down to "impregnating and marrying the last Lord's daughter."
    • Alys Karstark runs away from home to Castle Black in order to prevent herself from being married to her Evil Uncle who wants to inherit her title and home, the Karhold, when her brother dies (an event which they don't intend to be very far off) and who she fears will murder her as soon as she gives him an heir. Alys agrees to marry the Magnar of Thenn in an alliance brokered by Jon Snow, which he does to save Alys from her Evil Uncle (who comes after her to carry her off against her will) and so she can retake her home, the Karhold. They form a new house — House Thenn.
    • Generally in this verse, however, an in-law is not considered a "full" heir but receives the title of Lord Protector. This is a regential title that allows one to rule until a heir who is related by blood to the ruling house matures. There are two Lords Protector in the books, Petyr Baelish of the Vale and Ser Bronn of the Blackwater.
  • The Bishop's Heir (one of the Deryni books) features a king who, troubled by rebellion in one of the territories he rules, tries to resolve it by marrying the heir of its former rulers (whether she wants it or not). It doesn't really go according to plan. Somewhat unusually for this kind of story, the person insisting on the marriage is the protagonist.
  • The Riftwar Cycle has two cases where the marriage-causes-demotion variant is relevant:
    • In the Empire Trilogy, Mara is the Unexpected Successor to the leadership of House Acoma, but for political and social reasons, it's expected that she will marry someone and transfer lordship to him. She chooses a well-connected but easy-to-manipulate husband, which works for a while, but his abusiveness and incompetence eventually prompts her to navigate him into a situation where he publicly loses honour and has to kill himself, reverting formal control back to her. She later has other romantic arrangements, but doesn't marry and keeps her position.
    • In the Riftwar Saga, the relationship between Tomas and Queen Aglaranna of the elves is of worry to the latter's people, since they think he might try to make himself king through it. In the end, however, he just becomes her consort, and her child by a previous relationship remains heir.
  • A Brother's Price contains a gender-flipped version, owing to the setting's Gender Rarity Value. Society is matriarchal, but a father with royal blood confers status, and the protagonist is kidnapped to be such.
  • In King's Quest: The Floating Castle (part of the King's Quest franchise), a villain is keeping an underage princess prisoner in order to ensure he's the one to marry her when she's old enough.
  • In Fiona McIntosh's Quickening trilogy, King Celimus tries to put the queen of a neighbouring kingdom in a position where she has little option but to marry him. Naturally, he's not intending to rule together with her.
  • The Deverry books feature a case where, upon the death of a king, his three mutually antagonistic sons-in-law make bids for power. They stop short of proclaiming themselves kings, but do advance claims to be regent for the "rightful" king, their own respective sons (the old king's grandsons). A son of the eldest daughter should have inherited, and might have if her husband's clan were better politicians.
  • Engagement Challenges in Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms work this way. Most of the winners are of royal blood themselves, but the King of Otraria (from The Fairy Godmother) was born common and elevated to crown prince when he married the princess.
  • In The Queen's Thief series, the Queen of Attolia was a minor princess whose fiancé plotted to take the throne by killing her brother, the heir. Once that was done, the fiancé would seize power through her, except that he and his father discussed these plans around her openly, so she poisoned him at their wedding and took the throne herself. However, because Attolia is pretty sexist, the country remained unstable so long as her barons thought they could marry her and seize power themselves, forcing her to enact a brutal regime until she married Eugenides, who puts in enough kinging that she can maintain her rule without a problem.
  • This is the plan in The Horse and His Boy. A Calormene prince wants to marry Queen Susan of Narnia so he'll be able to take over the country. That he has the hots for her doesn't hurt.
  • The entire plot of Kingdom River is driven by this.
    • Queen Joan of the Middle Kingdom has only one child, Princess Rachel, who is more interested in books and learning than ruling a kingdom. Because of this, various River lords want to marry her to get to the throne. Joan wants to find a son-in-law who will be strong enough to hold the throne and keep the lords in check, but who's also patient enough to wait for the throne, rather than kill her to get to it immediately and who will actually care about her daughter, rather than kill or abandon her once they have the throne. For this reason, she reluctantly allies with the protagonist Sam Monroe, Captain-General of North Mexico, against their common enemy, Toghrul Khan, hoping he'll fulfill that need. the book ends with Sam marrying Rachel and becoming king after Joan dies in battle.
    • Queen Joan was this herself; originally queen consort, after her husband, King Newton, died, she became the reigning queen due to Rachel being a baby at the time. Unlike Rachel, she actually wanted to rule and made a point of killing off a few enemies at the start of her reign to show people she meant business.

     Live Action TV 
  • In the backstory of the Korean Drama Emperor Wang Guhn, King Hunnan had two daughters but no sons, so he looked for an appropriate suitor amongst his knights who would then become king of Silla (pre-Korea Korea). The one chosen actually prefers the younger daughter, but he marries the older daughter because that's the only way he'd become king.

     Religion and Mythology 
  • Historically, The Prophet Muhammad had no living sons, but had at least one daughter, Fatima. Fatima was married to Ali, Muhammad's cousin, and according to Shiite Muslims, he was Muhammad's proper heir, followed by their sons (who were, of course, Muhammad's grandsons). Different branches continue to follow Ali's descendants, whether they're still around (Ismailis/"Seveners") or a Messianic Archetype believed to currently be in hiding. Averted by Sunni Muslims, who don't believe that leadership of the Muslim community has to be hereditary.
  • In Greek mythology, Menelaus, prince of Mycenae, becomes king of Sparta through marriage to princess Helen after her stepfather and brothers die. Thus he also had a political motive for getting Helen back, since she was the justification for his own position.

     Video Games 
  • In King's Quest VI, the Evil Vizier has killed the king and queen and is trying to force their daughter to marry him. He doesn't care about the real princess, being willing to achieve his ends with a shapeshifting genie if required. In the end, the hero marries the princess instead.
  • Dragon Age: Origins features Anora, the king's widow. It's a semi-Elective Monarchy, so marrying Anora doesn't automatically grant rulership, but it would provide a public relations bonus and a sense of continuity. It's possible for her to become co-monarch with her late husband's half-brother, joining their respective claims. Player characters who are noblemen can talk Anora into marriage themselves, but lacking royal blood, they only get to be Prince-Consort. (A third option just has Anora become queen regnant in her own right, without remarrying at all.)
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords, the plan to take over the kingdom begins with kidnapping Princess Zelda for marriage purposes.
  • In Valkyria Chronicles, Prince Maximillian's plan to take over Gallia involves forcing its princess to marry him.
  • In Crusader Kings the downplayed trope is very common, as characters get a prestige bonus from marrying landed characters or their close relatives (whether they are set to inherit or no). Otherwise this trope is averted as females either can't inherit at all (under completely agnatic systems) or inherit fully as rulers (agnatic-cognatic or fully cognatic systems) with whoever they marry being their spouse and nothing more or less. It is possible to marry female rulers in order to put your dynasty on the throne from the next generation onwards (and is the norm) but your character does not gain any influence in your spouse's realm simply by marrying her (until they die and you start playing their heir, at any rate).
  • In Al-Qadim: The Genie's Curse, the Caliph's daughter is due to marry a son of the Al-Hazrad family (you, the protagonist). However, the Al-Hazrads' genie nearly drowns the Caliph in a storm, and he decides that his soon-to-be in-laws aren't content with just securing the marriage — they want him out of the way so that they could seize the throne. The Caliph accepts that the you were ignorant of the plot yourself, since you helped rescue him, but the other Al-Hazrads are imprisoned.
  • This is the point of the Throne of Miscellania quest in RuneScape; in order to become the prince/princess regent of Miscellania, the king, Vargas, requires you to marry his son, Prince Brand (as a female player) or daughter, Princess Astrid (as a male player). It is downplayed, however, since you only have to get engaged to the royal child in order to become regent and you never actually have to marry them. Though you can marry them later on, it's your choice and will not affect your regency if you don't and you remain regent even after they die.
  • Discussed in Jade Empire; Silk Fox fears that Death's Hand will try to convince her father to invoke this trope on her. she's wrong, for a number of reasons.
    • This happens to the player themself if you romance Silk Fox. Though, the text suggests you're more of a Ruling Couple.
  • The Golden Ending of Princess Maker has this happen with the daughter marrying the prince and being chosen by the king to succeed him to the throne as queen regnant.
  • King Irwin (the Luminary's father) in Dragon Quest XI married into the royal family of Dundrasil, having previously been the head of the princess' personal guard.
  • Yes, Your Grace: Succession works that way in the game's setting. At some point, it's explictly stated that since the Player Character doesn't have a son, the next-in-line for his throne is his son-in-law. This can be fixed by him having a new child and arranging for it to be a boy.

     Visual Novels 
  • This is the norm in The Confines of the Crown, with it being a matter of law that sons-in-law take precedence even over actual sons. Marrying an eldest daughter makes you heir, while the sons who would be heirs in a more traditional set-up have to go princess-hunting in the hopes of becoming king of somewhere that way.

     Western Animation 
  • In The Fairly OddParents, this is revealed to be Princess Mandie's reason for wanting to marry Mark Chang; her plan was to marry Mark, get rid of his father and then set Mark aside, so she could be the queen of both their worlds and used the combined strength of both to conquer the universe. The plan would have succeeded, but luckily for Mark, Vicky put a stop to it out of love for Mark.

     Real Life 
  • Formal, codified systems of royal inheritance tend not to use this idea—those which don't let princesses inherit tend to send the throne to a male cousin (who does have royal blood) rather than sending it to a princess's husband (who doesn't). That said, plenty of people have pressed claims based on their marriages anyway, and if they had the bigger army, sometimes got away with it. A man could legally get a title through his wife, but would hold it jure uxoris ("by right of his wife" or "in right of a wife"). Legally the husband and wife would equally hold the title, rather than the husband taking the whole thing, but sometimes he could take it in the case of her death or even divorce.
  • Specific examples from English history:
    • William III became King of England through his marriage to Mary II, initially as co-monarch rather than sole monarch. However, he continued to rule after her death rather than make way for her heirs, as he would have done had he just been a consort. It probably helped that William was also the next male in the line of succession as Mary's first cousin, and that he took the throne in what was essentially a coup d'etat (Parliament basically issued him a very polite engraved invitation to come and "invade" the country, because Britain).
      • At the same time, it was made clear his children would only succeed if they were also Mary's children; if they failed to have children or their children predeceased them (which they did), the throne would (and eventually did) pass to Mary's sister, Anne, even if William had remarried and had children by another wife (though he never did), because Anne would have still been considered higher in the succession (as Mary's sister)than any child of William's by another woman (who would be her first cousins-once-removed).
    • Downplayed example in the case of The Tudor claim to the throne of England and France; the Tudors already had their own claim to the throne, as descendants of the House of Lancaster, but it was weak. Henry VII's marriage to Elizabeth of York (heiress to the previous royal lineage) as well as the marriage by Princess Katherine of France (widow of Henry V) to Owen Tudor (Henry's grandfather) helped strengthen their claim, though it was primarily enforced by right of conquest.
      • Indeed, Henry VII seemed to be aware of this trope and made a point of being crowned before his marriage to her to make it clear he was king by his own efforts, not by being Elizabeth's husband.
    • The negotiations that preceded the marriage of Mary I of England and Philip of Spain were intended to ease English fears that this trope would hand ownership of England over to the Habsburgs. Under common law of the time, any property and titles held by a woman became her husband's upon marriage. Parliament demanded that Philip only receive the title of King of England for the duration of Mary's life, with no right to succeed her.
    • Later on in history, Albert was the Prince Consort of Queen Victoria, but Parliament passed a law to prevent him from repeating William's actions.
    • This is most likely why Eleanor, the Fair Maid of Brittany was kept imprisoned for entire life; after the death of her brother, Arthur, she was technically the rightful heiress to the Plantagenets' vast holdings and a potential husband might have tried to press her claim.
    • Similar to the above example, Princesses Gwenllian and Gwladys of Wales, the daughters of the last two independent Princes of Wales, were both placed in convents at a young age after their fathers' defeat to prevent the possibility of potential husbands claiming the throne through them.
  • Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor, inherited or was elected to many titles in his own right, but claimed the title King of Jerusalem by virtue of marrying Yolande, the heir of the Crusader States. Yolande was very young and not acting as ruler in her own right. What power she had in her name was exercised by her father John, acting as Regent. Upon their marriage, Frederick immediately declared himself in charge of her territory and dismissed her father. Yolande never reached adulthood—she lived only long enough to give birth to an heir and die in the process.
  • This was a sore spot between Mary Queen of Scots and her husband, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley. While Darnley was officially the King of Scotland, with his name coming before Mary's on government documents and his face appearing on coinage, she was the queen and he the consort. Darnley was constantly badgering Mary and the Scottish Parliament to bestow him with the Crown Matrimonial, which would have allowed him to inherit the throne and rule in his own right if Mary died. Darnley's ambition to rule Scotland in place of his wife was enough that Catherine de Medici, Queen Mother of France, wondered if it affected his feelings toward his and Mary's son, whose claim to the succession trumped his.
    • This is most likely why Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne never let his daughters marry; he feared their husbands might challenge him or his sons one day for the throne. It had happened to other rulers from his line, so it was a reasonable fear.
      • He was, however, fine with them having long-term relationships with his courtiers and even children with said courtiers, since neither the lovers nor their sons could claim the throne without the benefit of marriage.


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