On 15 May the Luxembourg twins Prince Jean and Princess Margaretha, nowadays Princess of Liechtenstein, celebrate their 60th birthday. I was so lucky to be able to take a photo of them together after the wedding of their niece Archduchess Marie-Christine of Austria in Mechelen (Malines), Belgium, on 6 December 2008.
But they’re certainly not the only royal twins. Actually sometimes you wonder what’s the thing with (royal) twins. So many celebrities become the parents of twins, and there are more royal twins than ever before. Almost every time a royal is pregnant, there are rumours it will be twins. Most of the time that is of course rubbish, but once in a while these rumours turn out to be true.
Wo are/were the royal twins in the reigning royal houses in, let’s say, the last two centuries? (I left out some in female line)
- Sheikh Zayed bin Hamed and Sheikha Moza bint Hamed (* 25 December 2007), son and daughter of Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi and his wife.
- Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalid and Sheikha Salama bint Khalid (* December 2013), son and daughter of Sheikh Khalid bin Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi and his wife.
- Princess Henriette (1870-1948) and Princess Joséphine (1870-1871) were born as twin daughters of Prince Philippe of Belgium, Count of Flanders and his wife Princess Marie von Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen. Unfortunately Joséphine died not even two months after their birth. Their younger sister, born in 1872, also received the name of Joséphine. It was not very unusual in the past that later born siblings received the name of their deceased sibling.
- Prince Nicolas and Prince Aymeric (* 13 December 2005), sons of Prince Laurent and Princess Claire of Belgium.
- Prince Vincent and Princess Josephine (* 8 January 2011), son and daughter of Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark.
- Countess Josephine and Countess Camilla (* 29 October 1972), daughters of Count Christian and Countess Anne-Dorthe of Rosenborg (Denmark).
- Count Axel and Count Birger of Rosenborg (* 24 January 1950), sons of Count Flemming and Countess Ruth of Rosenborg (Denmark).
- Sheikh Mohammed bin Majid & Sheikha Dubai bint Majid (* 15 July 2015), son and daughter of Sheikh Majid bin Mohammed and Sheikha Hessa of Dubai.
- Prince Franz de Paula (1868-1929) and Princess Julia (1868), son and daughter of Prince Alfred and Princess Henriette of Liechtenstein. Julia died on the day they were born.
- Princess Laetitia and Prince Karl Ludwig (* 21 July 2016), daughter and son of Prince Rudolf and Princess Tilsim of Liechtenstein.
- Princess Diemut and Prince Gundakar (* 1 April 1949), daughter and son of Prince Hans-Moritz and Princess Clotilde of Liechtenstein.
- Prince Christian and Prince Stefan (* 14 November 1961), sons of Prince Alexander and Princess Josephine of Liechtenstein.
- Prince Jean and Princess Margaretha (* 15 May 1957), son and daughter of Grand Duke Jean and Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte of Luxembourg.
- Prince Léopold and Princess Charlotte (* 2 May 2000), son and daughter of Prince Guillaume and Princess Sibilla of Luxembourg.
- Princess Gabriella, countess of Carladès, and Prince Jacques, marquess of Baux (* 10 December 2014), daughter and son of Reigning Prince Albert II and Princess Charlène of Monaco.
And some from non-reigning royal families:
- Archduchess Monika and Archduchess Michaela of Austria (* 13 September 1954), twin daughters of Archduke Otto and Archduchess Regina of Austria.
- Archduke István and Archduchess Viridis of Austria (* 22 & 23 September 1961), son and daughter of Archduke Felix and Archduchess Anna-Eugénie of Austria. Apparently they were born on two different dates.
- Archduke Stephan (1817-1867) and Archduchess Hermine (1817-1842), son and daughter of Archduke Joseph of Austria and Princess Hermine von Anhalt-Bernburg-Schaumburg-Hoym. Their mother unfortunately died the day she gave birth.
- Princess Marie Gabrielle and Princess Marie Charlotte (* 30 May 1931), daughters of Albrecht, Duke of Bavaria, and his first wife Mari(t)a.
- Princess Elisabeth Luise (1801-1873) and Princess Amalie Auguste (1801-1877), daughters of King Maximilian I Joseph and Queen Karoline of Bavaria.
- Princess Sophie (1805-1872) and Princess Marie Anne (1805-1877), daughters of King Maximilian I Joseph and Queen Karoline of Bavaria.
- Princess Maria Antonia and Princess Maria Francisca (* 18 August 1979), daughters of Prince Eudes de Orleans e Bragança (Brazil) and Mercedes Neves da Rocha.
- Princess Maria Tereza and Princess Maria Eleonora (* 31 January 1984), daughters of Prince Francisco de Orleans e Bragança (Brazil) and Claudia Regina Godinho.
- Princess Maria Teresa and Princess Maria Gabriela (* 14 July 1959), daughters of Prince Pedro Henrique de Orleans e Bragança (Brazil) and Princess Maria Elisabeth of Bavaria.
- Prince Eudes and Princess Valentina (* 8 June 2011), son and daughter of Prince Eudes de Orléans e Bragança and his wife Patricia.
- Prince Umberto and Princess Sofia (* 20 November 1999), son and daughter of Prince Konstantin-Assen of Bulgaria, Prince of Vidin, and Maria García de la Rasilla y Gortazar.
- Prince Fuad Zahir and Princess Farah Nur (* 12 January 2017), son and daughter of Prince Mohammed Ali and Princess Noal of Egypt.
- Luis, Duke of Bourgogne, and Alfonso, Duke of Berry (* 28 May 2010), sons of Don Luis Alfonso de Borbón, Duke of Anjou and Bourbon and Maria Margarita Vargas Santaella (France/Spain)..
- Prince Michel, count of Evreux, and Prince Jacques, Duke of Orléans (* 25 June 1941), sons of Henri and Isabelle, Count and Countess of Paris (France).
- Landgrave Philipp (1896-1980) and Prince Wolfgang (1796-1989), sons of Landgrave Friedrich Karl and Landgravinne Margarethe of Hessen.
- Princess Paulina and Prince Moritz (* 26 March 2007), son and daughter of Landgrave Heinrich and Landgravinne Floria-Franziska von Hessen.
- Prince Richard (1901-1969) and Prince Christoph (1901-1943), sons of Landgrave Friedrich Karl and Landgravinne Margarethe von Hessen.
- Prince Eduard Ernst Alexis Hermann Philipp (1878-1879) and Prince Julian Karl Georg Wilhelm (1878-1878), sons of Prince Wilhelm Friedrich Ernst and Princess Juliane von Hessen-Philippsthal-Barchfeld. Their mother died a week after giving birth.
- Fürst Friedrich (1891-1965) and Prince Franz Joseph (1891-1964), sons of Fürst Wilhelm and Fürstin Maria Teresa von Hohenzollern.
- Princess Maria Antonia (1921-2011) and Princess Maria Adelgunde (1921-2006), daughters of Fürst Friedrich and Fürstin Margarete von Hohenzollern.
- Shah Mohammed Reza (1919-1980) and Princess Ashraf (1919-2016), son and daughter of Shah Reza I of Iran and Tadj El-Molouk.
- Princess Zein and Princess Aisha (* 23 April 1968), daughters of King Al Hussein I and Princess Muna of Jordan.
- Princess Aisha and Princess Sarah (* 27 March 1997), daughters of Prince Feisal and Princess Alia of Jordan.
- Prince Rüdiger (1880-1960) and Princess Marie (1880-1959), son and daughter of Count Egmont and Countess Karola zur Lippe-Weissenfeld.
- Prince Gustav and Princess Viktoria (* and † 13 June 2005), son and daughter of Prince Bernhard and Princess Nina zur Lippe-Weissenfeld.
- Prince Egmont and Princess Ida (* 12 May 2006), son and daughter of Prince Bernhard and Princess Nina zur Lippe-Weissenfeld.
- Prince Charles and Princess Catherine Napoléon (* 19 October 1950), son and daughter of Prince Louis and Princess Alix Napoléon.
- Duke Huno and Duke Johann (* 3 January 1940), sons of Duke Nikolaus and Duchess Helene von Oldenburg.
- Duke Friedrich August (1900-1900) and Duchess Alexandrine (1900-1900), son and daughter of Grand Duke Friedrich August and Grand Duchess Elisabeth von Oldenburg. The boy survived for one day, the girl died on the day of her birth.
- Prince Jaime and Princess Margarita de Bourbon de Parme (* 13 October 1972), sons of Carlos Hugo, Duke of Parma and Princess Irene of the Netherlands.
- Carl Friedrich and Louis Ferdinand (* 20 January 2013), sons of Prince Georg Friedrich and Princess Sophie of Prussia.
- Prince Rupert and Princess Antonia (* 28 April 1955), son and daughter of Prince Friedrich and Princess Brigid of Prussia.
- Christian and Philipp, Prinzen von Preussen (* 3 July 1986), sons of Prince Adalbert and Princess Eva Maria of Prussia.
- Prince Franz Wilhelm (* 3 September 1943) and Prince Franz Joseph Friedrich Christian Carl Erdmann Louis Ferdinand (1943-1943), sons of Prince Karl Franz and Princess Henriette of Prussia. The second son died aged three weeks.
- Prince Philip and Prince Alexander (* 15 January 1982), sons of Crown Prince Alexander of Serbia and Princess Maria da Gloria de Orleans e Bragança.
- Prince Josias and Prince Johannes (* 7 July 1993), sons of Fürst Wittekind and Fürstin Cecilie zu Waldeck und Pyrmont.
- Prince Caspar and Prince Christian (* 6 October 2004), sons of Prince Georg-Wilhelm and Princess Freda zu Waldeck und Pyrmont.
- Duchess Elsa (1876-1936) and Duchess Olga (1876-1932), daughters of Duke Wilhelm and Duchess Vera von Württemberg.
- Prince Dimitri and Prince Michael (* 18 June 1958), sons of Prince Alexander of Yugoslavia and Princess Maria Pia of Savoy.
- Prince Serge and Princess Helene (* 12 March 1963), son and daughter of Prince Alexander of Yugoslavia and Princess Maria Pia of Savoy.
It depends on the succession laws in the country who is the first in line to the throne. In some countries only boys can succeed, in others boys come before girls, and in other countries the first-born succeeds, no matter the gender. We’ve seen this happening in Monaco some years ago. Princess Gabriella was born first, but although boys and girls can both succeed, boys go first. So her younger twin brother, Prince Jacques, is the heir of Monaco now. In most countries simply the eldest of the twins would be higher on the succession list nowadays. Funny enough in case of a caesarean section actually it is the obstetrician who will chose which child will be delivered first and thus will be the first of the two in line of succession. While in case of a natural birth the children themselves fight who will be out first.
In some cases the stories are rather unfortunate. King James I and Queen Joan of Scotland for example in 1430 had twin boys. The eldest, Alexander, became the heir to the throne and Duke of Rothesay. The younger Prince James became the heir when his elder twin brother died within the first year after birth. He was hardly six years old when his father was assassinated and little James became King James II of Scotland.
Sometimes there are just rumours that won’t disappear. There is a story – probably based on the wish of people for a male heir after years of female rule – that Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands had a stillborn twin brother, who was quietly buried in the palace gardens of Soestdijk. Of course totally rubbish as I can’t imagine there would have been any reason to hide this.
By the way at least two people married into a royal family are part of a set of twins. Autumn Kelly, who married Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain’s grandson Peter Phillips, has a twin brother called Chris. Tessy Antony, who married Prince Louis of Luxembourg, has a twin brother called Ronny.
Triplets or even more children at once is much rarer than twins. I don’t know of any case within a royal family, although there were some born in noble families. The closest triplet birth happened on 12 July 2004, when Matthias Hoyer and his wife née Princess Katharina zu Waldeck und Pyrmont had three children: Zita-Florentine, Henry-Oscar and John-Moritz.
I don’t pretend the list to be complete. I might well have missed a few, as genealogies are sometimes rather big.