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. Every vacancy of the throne has been duly filled by the crown prince, with a new crown prince then being appointed according to agnatic seniority among the sons of Ibn Saud, though various members of the family have been bypassed for various reasons. A deputy crown prince (second in line for the throne) was first selected in 2014.

As of 2015, the current crown prince is the youngest surviving son of Ibn Saud, and the deputy crown prince is the first grandson of Ibn Saud to be officially placed into the line of succession. The appointment of grandsons to line of succession is to be based on merit. The Allegiance Council was created in 2006 to facilitate the royal transfer of power.

The current ruler of Saudi Arabia is King Salman,[1] who succeeded King Abdullah on his death on 23 January 2015. On the same day, Prince Muqrin became Crown Prince and Muhammad bin Nayef became Deputy Crown Prince.[1]


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.[2] 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.[citation needed]

Ibn Saud's first two successors were his two oldest surviving sons: Saud in 1953, and Faisal in 1964. The third son, Muhammad, was crown prince from 1964 to 1965 but then withdrew in favor of his full brother Khalid. Upon Khalid's succession in 1975, the new crown prince was Fahd, the oldest of the Sudairi Seven; this move bypassed Nasser and Saad, who had far less government experience than Fahd. Upon Fahd's succession in 1982, the new crown prince was Abdullah, and the Second deputy Prime Minister was Prince Sultan, again bypassing two of the latter's older brothers (Bandar and Musa'id). Abdullah ascended the throne in 2005 on his 81st birthday, and many other surviving sons of Ibn Saud were similarly elderly and many were bypassed as new crown princes were selected.[citation needed]

Salman became crown prince on 18 June 2012 after the deaths of two predecessors (Sultan and Nayef), and Muqrin was named deputy crown prince in 2014.[3] Muqrin is the youngest surviving son of Ibn Saud. Upon the death of King Abdullah on 23 January 2015, Salman ascended to the throne and Muqrin became crown prince.[1] At the same time, Muhammad bin Nayef, son of former crown prince Nayef, was appointed deputy crown prince. Muhammad bin Nayef is the first grandson of Ibn Saud to enter the official line of succession.[citation needed]

At the time of Salman's succession as king in 2015, he was 79 years old, Crown Prince Muqrin was 69 years old, and Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad was 55 years old.[citation needed]


The current Crown Prince is Muqrin bin Abdulaziz (born 1945), former director general of Saudi intelligence (2005–2012),[4] second deputy prime minister since 1 February 2013.[5] Deputy Crown Prince since 27 March 2014,[3] Crown Prince since 23 January 2015.[1]

The late Crown Prince Nayef's son Mohammed, has been named Deputy Crown Prince by the Allegiance Council, as such second in line to the Throne of Saudi Arabia after Crown Prince,[6] and opening up the succession to the grandsons strictly on merit.

Allegiance Council[edit]

With the advancing ages of the sons of Abdulaziz, King Abdullah created the Allegiance Council[2] to address the shrinking number of candidates for the throne. 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.[2] The Council is led by Prince Mishaal.[2]

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, 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[clarification needed]
  • Acceptance by the Ulema
  • Support by the merchant community
  • Popularity among the general Saudi citizenry.

The Council votes by secret ballot.[7][8]

Influence of the Council[edit]

With the promotion of Crown Prince Sultan's three successors deemed automatic, and the King's writ on the subject of the appointment of the second deputy PM (the honorific "deputy crown prince" being much more recent than the position itself). The Council has proved to be little more than a "rubber stamp."


  1. ^ a b c d "Saudi King Abdullah dies, new ruler is Salman". Reuters. 22 January 2015. Retrieved 22 January 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d "The Saudi succession: When kings and princes grow old". The Economist. 15 July 2010. Retrieved 22 October 2011. 
  3. ^ a b "Saudi Prince Muqrin named second-in-line to succeed king". Reuters. 27 March 2014. Retrieved 27 March 2014. 
  4. ^ "Saudi Arabia names former ambassador to US to powerful intelligence post". Associated Press. 19 July 2012. Retrieved 20 July 2012. 
  5. ^ "Saudi Arabia appoints Prince Muqrin as second deputy PM". Reuters. 1 February 2013. Retrieved 1 February 2013. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Saudi king details succession law". BBC. 2007. Retrieved 22 October 2011. 
  8. ^ Stig Stenslie. "Regime Stability in Saudi Arabia: The Challenge of Succession - Stig Stenslie - Google Books". Retrieved August 27, 2014.