A principality (sometimes also called princedom) is a country or territory which is ruled by a sovereign prince or princess. Principalities were common in the Middle Ages. Principalities tend to have quite a small territory.
Current principalities change
- The Principality of Andorra is a small country in Western Europe which borders Spain and France. Andorra has two heads of state known as "Co-Princes". The two Co-Princes are Emmanuel Macron (also President of France) and Joan Enric Vives Sicília (who is also Bishop of Urgell).
- The Principality of Liechtenstein is a very small country located in the Alps. It was named after the ruling family, the House of Liechtenstein. The principality was once a part of the Holy Roman Empire but eventually became independent. The ruler of Liechtenstein holds the title "Fürst", which is usually translated as "Prince".
- The Principality of Monaco is the second-smallest country in the world. It borders France. Monaco's ruler is the "Sovereign Prince".
Sub-national principalities change
Many states of the Holy Roman Empire were small principalities with their own royal families.
In modern Europe, there are some cases where the heir to the throne of a country holds the title "Prince of...", followed by the name of a significant region of the country. This mostly has some historical meaning.
- The Principality of Asturias is one of Spain's autonomous communities. The heir to the throne of Spain has the title "Prince/Princess of Asturias".
- Wales is one of the four countries part of the United Kingdom. The heir to the throne of the UK holds the title Prince of Wales. This is because the Principality of Wales formerly existed before Wales and England became a single legal entity.
Some states claim to be principalities but are not recognised by other countries: Sealand (a Sea Fort off the English coast), Seborga (a small town in Italy), the Principality of Hutt River in Australia and the Principality of Minerva in the Pacific. These states are examples of micronations.
Sometimes the word is also used to mean dependent territories in Africa, Asia and India, pre-Columbian America and Oceania. For these, the word princely states is generally preferred, especially if they came under the authority of a European colonial power.