Succession to the Saudi Arabian throne

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The order of succession to the throne of Saudi Arabia is determined by, and within, the House of Saud. It follows agnatic seniority, but a prince may be surpassed or another elevated. The Allegiance Council was created in 2006 to facilitate the royal transfer of power.

King Abdullah is the current ruler of Saudi Arabia. The heir designate from 2005 was Sultan bin Abdulaziz until his death in 2011 ; the second in line was Nayef bin Abdulaziz from 2011 to his death in 2012.[1] On 18 June 2012, Salman bin Abdulaziz was appointed the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.[2] Prince Salman was also made deputy prime minister.[3] On 27 March 2014, Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz was appointed deputy crown prince.[4]


Main article: King of Saudi Arabia
Further information: History of Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia became a kingdom in 1932. The Al Saud controlled vast parts of the region for two and a half centuries. The Saudi royalty collapsed twice in the 1800s due to discord over succession. In 1890s, the Al Sauds were completely supplanted by the ruling dynasty Al Rasheed — the Al Rashid. The kingdom began to fight to restore itself through King Abdulaziz and his capture of Riyadh in 1902.[5]

Ibn Saud conquered Arabia and formed alliances by marriage to members of its biggest tribes. This strengthened his power within the Al Sauds and expanded his legitimacy in Arabia. He presided over the discovery of oil in the region. He died in 1953.

Ibn Saud's eldest surviving son Prince Saud became king in 1953. This reign lasted until 1964. Then, Saud's younger brother Prince Faisal became king upon the overthrow of King Saud. Faisal's reign was ended by his assassination in 1975. Faisal's younger brother Prince Mohammad was briefly crown prince but abdicated in favor Prince Khalid, who ascended to the throne and ruled until his death in 1982. Khalid's younger brother King Fahd, the head of the Sudairi faction, ruled from 1982 until his stroke in 1995. Fahd's younger brother Crown Prince Abdullah then took control of the kingdom's affairs and was crowned king in 2005, after the death of King Fahd. King Abdullah is the present ruler of Saudi Arabia. His younger brother Salman bin Abdulaziz became Crown Prince on 18 June 2012 after the deaths of two predecessors. In March 2014 Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz was named deputy Crown Prince and is therefore second-in-line to the throne.[4]


After Prince Salman, the second-in-line to the throne is:

  • Muqrin bin Abdulaziz (born 1945), Former director general of Saudi intelligence (2005-2012),[6] Second deputy prime minister since 1 February 2013.[7] Deputy crown prince since 27 March 2014[4]

Others of the King's brothers who are eligible include:[8]

Allegiance Council[edit]

With the sons of Abdulaziz rapidly growing older, it became clear that soon the supply would be completely depleted. So in October 2006, King Abdullah created the Allegiance Council[5] to deal with this eventuality. It is composed of 28 persons: King Abdulaziz's sons, the eldest sons of the brothers who have died and the sons of King and Crown Prince.[5] The Council is led by Prince Mishaal.[5]

Power of the Council[edit]

The purpose of the Council is to ensure the smooth transition of power in the event of incapacitation or death of the King or Crown Prince.

This, along with an earlier decree by King Fahd, has opened the possibility of considering Abdul-Aziz's grandsons as viable candidates. Beyond age, the criteria for selection include:

  • Support within the Al Saud
  • Tenure in government
  • Tribal affiliations and origins of a candidate's mother
  • Religious persona
  • Acceptance by the Ulema
  • Support by the merchant community
  • Popularity among the general Saudi citizenry.

The Council votes by secret ballot.[15][16]

The council intended to determine the line of succession after the reigns of Abdullah. The council also has the right to remove sitting kings for reasons of health.


  1. ^ "Saudi crown prince dies". Al Jazeera. 16 June 2012. Retrieved 16 June 2012. 
  2. ^ Patrick, Neil (17 June 2012). "Saudi Arabia: Crown Prince's death raises succession questions". BBC. Retrieved 17 June 2012. 
  3. ^ McDowall, Angus (18 June 2012). "Saudi appoints Prince Salman as crown prince". Reuters. Retrieved 18 June 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c "Saudi Prince Muqrin named second-in-line to succeed king". Reuters. 27 March 2014. Retrieved 27 March 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d "The Saudi succession: When kings and princes grow old". The Economist. 15 July 2010. Retrieved 22 October 2011. 
  6. ^ "Saudi Arabia names former ambassador to US to powerful intelligence post". Associated Press. 19 July 2012. Retrieved 20 July 2012. 
  7. ^ "Saudi Arabia appoints Prince Muqrin as second deputy PM". Reuters. 1 February 2013. Retrieved 1 February 2013. 
  8. ^ "Saudi Arabia names Prince Nayef as heir to throne". BBC News. 27 October 2011. Retrieved 28 October 2011. 
  9. ^ "Crown Prince Sultan backs the king in family". Wikileaks. 12 February 2007. Retrieved 6 May 2012. 
  10. ^ a b "Further Prince Sultan succession speculation". Gulf States Newsletter 33 (845). 16 January 2009. Retrieved 31 May 2009. 
  11. ^ Bremmer, Ian (2 March 2012). "The next generation of Saudi royals is being groomed". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 26 May 2012. 
  12. ^ a b "Prince Abdul-Ilah bin Abdulaziz appointed royal adviser". Saudi Embassy, Washington D.C. 10 October 2008. Retrieved 13 May 2012. 
  13. ^ Henderson, Simon (21 January 2009). "Saudi Leadership Crisis Looms: Health of Crown Prince Falters". The Washington Institute. Retrieved 6 June 2012. 
  14. ^ "After King Abdullah". Washington Institute for Near East Policy. August 2009. Retrieved 7 June 2012. 
  15. ^ "Saudi king details succession law". BBC. 2007. Retrieved 22 October 2011. 
  16. ^ Stig Stenslie. "Regime Stability in Saudi Arabia: The Challenge of Succession - Stig Stenslie - Google Books". Retrieved August 27, 2014.