The British royal family have close friendships – and numerous familial connections – with royal families all across Europe.
The coronation of Britain’s King Charles III will see the biggest gathering of European royalty since the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II in September last year.
Historically, convention dictated that no other reigning royals would be in attendance at the coronation of a British monarch. But Charles and Camilla have extended invitations to their friends and relatives in royal families around Europe and the world — monarchs and royals from Africa, Asia and the Middle East have arrived in London to take part in the ceremonies.
So which European royals are attending the coronation, and how are they related to the British royals?
Here’s our guide:
King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of Belgium are attending the coronation. Their eldest daughter, Princess Elisabeth, studies history and politics at Oxford University, and accompanied her father to a reception at Buckingham Palace on Friday evening, the night before the coronation.
How are the British and Belgian royal families related? It’s complicated, but: King Philippe’s ancestor is King Leopold I, the first King of the Belgians, who was also Queen Victoria’s uncle. And Queen Victoria was Charles III’s great-great-great-grandmother.
Queen Margrethe II will be unable to attend as she is recovering from back surgery. Instead, her eldest son and heir Crown Prince Frederik and his wife Crown Princess Mary will be there.
The Danish royal couple met at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games and romance blossomed.
Queen Margrethe II of Denmark is a distant relative of King Charles through their shared ancestry with Queen Victoria.
Queen Anne-Marie of Greece is attending the coronation with her son Crown Prince Pavlos and daughter-in-law Crown Princess Marie-Chantal. King Charles III is Pavlos’s godfather, while Prince William is the godfather to Pavlos and Marie-Chantal’s son Prince Constantine.
Anne-Marie’s late husband, the former King Constantine II of Greece, died in January this year. He was Prince William’s godfather.
The Greek royals are related to many other European royal houses: Queen Anne-Marie is the youngest sister of Denmark’s Queen Margrethe II. She is also a first cousin of King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden and a second cousin of King Harald V of Norway. She was also a third cousin of her own late husband King Constantine, as they both had King Christian IX of Denmark as a great-great-grandfather.
The House of Liechtenstein dates back to the early 1600s, and the royal family gives its name to the tiny European country of just 38,000 people.
Hereditary Prince Alois and Hereditary Princess Sophie of Liechtenstein are attending the coronation in London.
Prince Alois rules Liechtenstein jointly with his father, Hereditary Prince Hans-Adam II, who was an eighth cousin of Queen Elizabeth II – both were descendants of Ludwig, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel.
“Hereditary Prince Alois … therefore is the ninth nephew of HM Queen Elizabeth II,” the Liechtenstein royal household told Euronews recently – so King Charles, Prince Hans-Adam and Prince Alois are all related, but very distantly indeed.
Interestingly, Princess Sophie – who was born into a Bavarian aristocratic family – can trace her relatives directly back to Scotland’s Bonnie Prince Charlie, whose descendants have a hypothetical claim to the crown: which makes Sophie second in line to become the Jacobite Queen of England and Scotland – although her uncle, who is first in line, has described the claim as purely “hypothetical”.
Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa are attending the coronation, and have a special connection to the UK.
Henri’s mother, Grand Duchess Charlotte, fled Luxembourg after the German invasion in WWII and was exiled to London for two years. She broadcast messages over the BBC and became a symbol of her country’s resistance during the war.
The Grand Duke and King Charles III were both related to Britain’s King George II and Queen Caroline, who ruled in the mid-1700s.
The Monégasque Royal Family will be represented at the coronation by Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene.
The House of Grimaldi has ruled the tiny Mediterranean principality for 700 years, and during the 20th century became a symbol of glittering, modern European royalty when Prince Albert’s father married Hollywood star Grace Kelly after meeting at the Cannes Film Festival. But tragedy struck when Princess Grace died in a car crash in 1982.
Like the Danish Crown Prince and Princess, Monaco’s Albert and Charlene met at the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000, where she was a swimmer representing South Africa.
The Dutch royal family have traditionally been close to their British counterparts, and this is why King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima will be attending the coronation.
Princess Catharina-Amalia, and Princess Beatrix, the former queen who abdicated in favour of her son in 2013, represented the Netherlands at a Buckingham Palace reception with King Charles on the eve of the coronation.
The Dutch king and Charles’s are sixth cousins – Willem-Alexander is a descendant of Princess Carolina, the daughter of King William IV; while Charles is also related to Princess Carolina through his great-grandmother Queen Mary.
Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit will represent King Harald V and Queen Sonja of Norway.
It will be the royal couple’s second visit to the UK recently, as they were hosted by the Prince and Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace in March.
The Norwegian royals are especially close with the British royals.
Queen Elizabeth II and King Harald were second cousins, sharing the same great-grandparents – King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra – who were the father and mother of Norway’s own Queen Maud.
When Norway was occupied by Germany in 1940, King Haakon and Crown Prince Olav (the current king’s grandfather and father) were forced to flee the country and live in exile in London. “This brought the two branches of the family even closer together,” the Norwegian royal household said in a recent statement.
When she was young, Queen Elizabeth II used to call King Haakon “Uncle Charles” and according to the Norwegian royal family, “Uncle Charles” was the Queen’s favourite uncle – and she named Prince Charles after King Haakon.
Noway was the first country outside the Commonwealth that Queen Elizabeth paid a state visit to, in 1955, and she visited three times in total, as the guest of three generations of Norwegian kings.
Since King Harald and Queen Sonja were crowned in 1991, they have paid an annual visit to the United Kingdom to visit their British relatives in the royal family.
King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain are attending the coronation, and controversially they might not be the only Spanish royals in attendance.
Both of Felipe’s parents, ex-King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia, attended the funeral of Queen Elizabeth in 2022, but did so separately as they are estranged following a number of controversies and revelations of extra-marital affairs Juan Carlos was involved in over the years.
Spanish media are reporting that Juan Carlos and Sofia have not been invited to the coronation in an _official_capacity but that leaves the door open for them to be invited in a personal capacity since there have been close relationships between the House of Windsor and the House of Borbón over the decades.
King Felipe was a third cousin to Queen Elizabeth’s – and affectionately called her “Auntie Lilibet” – while his father King Juan Carlos is the great-great-grandson of Queen Victoria (King Charles is the great-great-great-grandson of Victoria.)
Despite recovering from heart surgery, King Carl XVI Gustaf is in London to attend the coronation, alongside his daughter, Crown Princess Victoria rather than his wife Queen Silvia.
The Swedish king is celebrating his Golden Jubilee this year.
The House of Bernadotte is one of Europe’s grandest royal families, and also among the most closely related to the British royals.
So how are the two great European houses, Sweden and Britain, related, and what about links to other Scandinavian royalty?
In the simplest terms, King Carl XVI Gustaf’s great-great-grandmother is Queen Victoria, who is also King Charles’s great-great-great-grandmother. (In more complicated terms, the Swedish King is also related on his mother’s side to Queen Victoria’s eighth son Prince Leopold).
And across the region, King Carl XVI Gustav is the cousin of Queen Margrethe of Denmark as they both have the same grandfather; while the Swedish monarch is second cousin to King Harald V of Norway, because Harald’s mother was born a Swedish princess.
Which other European royals will be at the coronation?
Margareta of Romania, known as the Custodian of the Crown of Romania, and her husband Prince Radu, have confirmed their attendance, and were at a reception at Buckingham Palace on the eve of the coronation.
Crown Prince Alexander of Yugoslavia is the heir to a royal dynasty that was last in power in 1945. He was born in London during WWII and christened at Westminster Abbey with King George IV and then-Princess Elizabeth as his godparents. He is expected to be at the coronation with his wife Crown Princess Katherine.
Bulgaria’s ex-king and former prime minister, Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha will also be attending.
Three members of the German aristocracy will be in London for King Charles’s coronation as well, but how are they related to the British royal family?
Hereditary Prince Bernhard of Baden’s grandmother was the late Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh’s sister.
Prince Heinrich Donatus of Hesse is related to Queen Victoria and also a distant cousin of Prince Philip.
Prince Philipp of Hohenlohe-Langenburg was a grand-nephew of Prince Philip, and Britain’s Princess Anne is his godmother.