What Happened to the Scottish Monarchy?

It would probably be better if we start with the line-up of Scots Monarchs from as early as records allow before answering this one.


Alpin mac Echdach


King of the Picts




Kenneth I


King of the Picts

Alpin’s son. 



Domnall I


King of the Picts

Alpin’s son. 



Constantín I


King of the Picts

Kenneth’s son. 





King of the Picts

Kenneth’s son. 



Kenneth’s daughter’s son with Run (King of Alt Clut).



King of the Picts



King of the Picts

Domnall’s son. 



Donald II


King of Alba

Constantin’s son. 



Constantine II


King of Alba

Áed’s son. 



Malcolm I


King of Alba

Donald II’s son. 





King of Alba

Constantine II’s son.





King of Alba

Malcolm I’s son. 





King of Alba

Indulf’s son. 



 Indulf’s son.



King of Alba

Kenneth II


King of Alba

Malcolm I’s son. 



Constantine III


King of Alba

Cuilén’s son. 



Kenneth III


King of Alba

Dub’s son. 




Malcolm II


King of Scots

Kenneth II’s son. 




Duncan I


King of Alba

Constantine II’s daughter Bethóc’s son with Crínán (Mormaer of Atholl)





King of Alba

Malcolm II’s daughter Donada’s son with Findláech (Earl of Moray)





King of Alba

Kenneth III’s granddaughter Gruoch’s son with Gille (Earl of Moray)




Malcolm III


King of Scots

Duncan I’s son.

Known as Malcolm Canmore.



Donald III


King of Scots


Duncan I’s son.



Duncan II


King of Scots

Malcolm III’s son with Ingibiorg.



Donald III


King of Scots

Took back the crown.





King of Scots

Malcolm III’s son with Margaret.



Alexander I


King of Scots

Malcolm III’s son with Margaret.



Married England’s William I’s granddaughter Sibylla.

David I


King of Scots

Malcolm III’s son with Margaret.



Malcolm IV


King of Scots

David I’s grandson.



William I


King of Scots

David I’s grandson.

Known as William the Lion.



Alexander II


King of Scots

William I’s son with Ermengarde.



Alexander III


King of Scots

Alexander II’s son with Marie.





Edward I of England steps in to decide the rightful claimant to the Scottish crown.






Queen of Scots

Alexander III’s granddaughter & Eric II of Norway’s daughter. Known as the Maid of Norway.




John Balliol


David I’s great great great grandson.




Robert I


King of Scots

David I’s great great great great grandson.

Known as The Bruce.



David II


King of Scots

 Robert I’s son.




Robert II


King of Scots

Robert I the Bruce’s grandson and David II’s nephew.




Robert III


King of Scots

Robert II’s son with first wife Elizabeth.



James I


King of Scots

Robert III’s son with Anabella.



James II


King of Scots

James I’s son with Joan.



James III


King of Scots

James II’s son with Mary.



His marriage to the Tudor line that meant James VI was heir to Elizabeth’s crown.

James IV


King of Scots

James III’s son with Margaret of Denmark.



James V


King of Scots

James IV’s son with Margaret Tudor.



Mary wasn’t executed until 1587. She was forced to give up the crown to her son in 1567.

Mary I


Queen of Scots

James V’s daughter with Mary of Guise.



Last King of Scotland. 

Stewart could be Steuart and Stuart. More commonly known as the Stuart line now.

James VI & I


King of Scots

& Great Britain

Mary I’s son with Darnley. On the death of a childless Elizabeth I of England, James ascended the throne of Great Britain & Ireland.

The Scottish monarchy has evolved with the country’s identity. The ruling families styled themselves as Kings of Picts, of Alba, and of Scots as the population’s identity changed over the centuries. I’ll discuss a wee bit about who the defining monarchs were and the substantial changes that occurred over the almost 800 years of Scotland’s ruling houses in a bid to find out ultimately what happened to those on the Scottish throne.

The first recorded ruling family in Scotland was that of Alpin. It lasted about 200 years in total. They were the Kings of the Picts, then of Alba, before ending with Malcolm II as King of Scots. The House of Dunkeld went back to calling themselves the Kings of Alba, for the 24 years they were on the throne, before Malcolm III’s marriage to Ingibiorg began the Sverre dynasty and again took the title Kings of Scots. This House held the Scottish crown for 228 years before the Great Cause caused problems for the Scottish ascendancy.

Alexander III held the crown until 1286. He had three children who both died before he did; David when he was still a child, Margaret in 1283, and Alexander in 1284. Margaret had a daughter, Margaret (Maid of Norway), with Eric II of Norway, and she was recognised as Queen of Scots due to the treaty that was signed on her mother’s marriage with Eric. The treaty was meant for Margaret (as the last heir of the line) and her future husband to take the crown. She was only 3 when this right fell to her. The Scots didn’t send for her though. Eric of Norway dealt with Edward I of England at the start of 1289 to have her made the rightful Queen of Scotland. Later that same year Edward met with Robert de Brus & as the Scottish Guardians felt they had no power to deny her her right they signed the Treaty of Salisbury. Edward I’s intention was to have her marry his son Edward and, ten days after the treaty was signed (showing it was planned for), dispensation arrived from Pope Nicholas IV to allow this marriage should the Scots feel it was in their interest. It was all for nought, as one might say, when she died from the effects of sea-sickness on her way over to Scotland in 1290.

Now there was no obvious rightful claimant to take the sceptre, crown & throne of Scotland. The Great Cause really got under way at this point. Who had more of a claim? John Balliol and Robert de Brus, 5th Lord of Annandale, were the two main contenders, though fourteen nobles applied for the position. John Hastings, for example, had to base his argument on Scotland not being a kingdom due to its kings not being traditionally crowned or anointed. He believed the kingdom (he didn’t believe existed) should be split up between the direct descendants of David I. The nobles deemed this ridiculous and rejected his claim. Robert de Brus as one of the main contenders had a closer blood connection than the others. Unfortunately, in Scots law primogeniture [the firstborn having right of succession] was the principal option chosen for deciding an heir. Bruce had agreed with Balliol on Scotland being one kingdom but when he saw his claim failing he changed his mind and sided with Hastings calling for Scotland to be divided between the deserving parties. John Balliol was up there with de Brus as a strong contender but as he had primogeniture, and therefore the law, on his side, he had the winning card. Due to everyone, including the future contenders, allowing Margaret initially to take the throne this secured primogeniture as the deciding factor and therefore Balliol ascended to the Scottish throne.

Edward I had become involved after Margaret’s death due the Scottish nobles having him intervene to stop full-blown war between de Brus and Balliol. Of course, he happily stood in as it gave him the chance to secure the acknowledgement of Scotland’s feudal dependency to the throne of England, this was three hundred years before Mary, Queen of Scots, was murdered by Elizabeth for not ratifying the Treaty of Edinburgh which claimed the same. In the late twelfth century Scotland was deemed a vassal state of England from 1174 for a mere 15 years due to the Treaty of Falaise, though English nobles have proceeded on the basis this treaty was sound and has been maintained ever since. In 1291 Edward demanded his feudal claim over Scotland be recognised before he would step in to put a king on Scotland’s throne. He did this by insisting Scots produce evidence to prove he didn’t have this claim, rather than prove it himself. The Scots returned the answer that without a king there was no-one in the country with the authority to assert that and any claim from them that he did in fact have a feudal right over the country would, therefore, mean nothing. Edward was incensed by this reply so much he refused to allow it onto the legal record as the Scots were entirely correct in their inability to answer him as he would have wanted. He was however given control over a number of Scottish castles in return for his aid in this issue.

The House of Balliol lasted all of four years before the Scottish nobles deposed him as weak and too under Edward I’s thumb choosing a council of twelve to rule in his place. The Auld Alliance treaty between Scotland and France was signed under this council. Edward invaded Scotland because he felt undermined. He believed Scotland should have to listen to him and act as per his wishes. This began the Scottish Wars of Independence. When Scotland lost in 1296, Balliol abdicated and was imprisoned by Edward in the Tower of London, after which he fled into France. Robert Bruce took the Scottish throne in 1306, ending the Great Cause. The House of Bruce, however, only lasted 65 years before Scotland’s last house took the throne.

The House of Stewart or Stuart (even Steuart) began their stint with Robert II. His father Walter Stewart, the sixth High Steward (where the name comes from) of Scotland, married Robert the Bruce’s daughter Marjorie. When David II, the last of the House of Bruce, died without any heirs, his nephew Robert took the crown. James IV’s marriage to Margaret Tudor, in order to secure peace between the neighbouring countries, tied the Tudor and Stewart families together with the birth of James V. Margaret went on to marry Archibald Douglas and gave birth to Henry Stuart. James V’s daughter Mary took the Scottish throne with her husband, Francis II, the Dauphin of France. When he died after only 2 years of marriage she married her half cousin Henry Stuart, known as Darnley, after he was suggested as worthy by her “good cousin” Elizabeth I of England, and gave birth to James VI. When Darnley was murdered in an explosion “that left no one stone above another” in the house he was residing in, the faction of nobles, under her bastard brother (the Regent Moray), were quick to accuse her of obtaining her husband’s murder. This was cited as the main reason her “good cousin” had her imprisoned indefinitely after she sought safety in England, regardless of the fact all the main players, including Moray, were apprehended, sentenced and executed for the crime long before she was finally murdered.

Elizabeth’s main grief with Mary rose from the fact she refused to ratify the Treaty of Edinburgh. This was a treaty made on behalf of her and the Dauphin prior to their arrival in Scotland and without their consent. All points of this treaty were satisfactory to Mary bar the one, that which denied her any claim to the English throne. Mary refused to sign because Elizabeth and she were both descended from Henry VII which meant if Elizabeth were to die “without issue”, Mary was the next rightful heir to the English throne. To deny her what was rightfully hers by blood was illegal and unconstitutional but Elizabeth pursued this ratification until Mary had been forced to give up her crown and sceptre to her infant son after being captured by factions within the Scottish nobles acting under Elizabeth’s orders. Her son James VI, therefore, became the last king of Scotland. He inherited his mother’s right to ascend the English throne, after having sat on the Scottish one for 36 years, when Elizabeth I finally died in 1603. He became King of Great Britain and Ireland.

So, in answer to the set question of what happened to those in line to the Scottish throne, it became the British throne. It amalgamated into the one entity so a distinction could only be made should the same name appear on the British throne. Our present monarch is a good example of this as England has had a Queen Elizabeth, as we’ve seen, whereas Scotland hasn’t, therefore she’s Elizabeth II of England and I of Scotland. It would be the same if any names from either throne has historically been used in one place or the other. Our present queen has said the line will bypass her son to her grandson William. On his ascending the throne of Great Britain he will be William II of Scotland and V of England, thereby maintaining a semblance of distinction between the two.


Thanks to mercuryunique for the query.

10 thoughts on “What Happened to the Scottish Monarchy?

  1. You said “On his [Prince William’s] ascending the throne of Great Britain he will be William II of Scotland and V of England” but that’s not right because there are no longer kingdoms of Scotland or England for him to be respectively II and V of. Since 1801, there has been only one kingdom in the British Isles, the one that’s now called the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. As regards the numeral, this was gone into in a court case at the time that the present queen chose the title Elizabeth II considering that there had never been an Elizabeth I of either Scotland or of the UK, only of England. The decision was that the royal title is a matter for the royal prerogative (as to which, of course, she acts on the advice of her ministers) and not justiciable in the courts. She would have been entitled to have called herself Tabitha the Two hundred and twenty eighth if she’d wanted to (and her Ministers agreed). That being the case, calling herself by her actual name plus the numeral which is the highest number of a monarch of the same name of the UK, or of any of the countries which merged to become the UK, plus one was a reasonable compromise.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the info. Love that folk are commenting additions to this, as, unless it’s been said to death already on this page, I’m afraid I’m no monarchist and have no stake or interest in the monarchy post-1900 or what they call themselves. Regardless of what she’s chosen, the fact is that she is the I. of Scotland, II. of England, regardless what she’s legally decided she is. Even if William becomes Tinkerbell XVIII, he will still in basic fact be William II. of Scotland, &c. I appreciate that folk are going to the bother of informing others. That’s what it’s all about, after all, eh?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The point is that there isn’t a kingdom of Scotland for her to be Elizabeth I of. Or a kingdom of England for her to be Elizabeth II of. (There are still *countries* called Scotland and England, naturally, but no longer kingdoms of Scotland or England.)


        1. I think it was already explained to you by others, that the very fact of there being any difference at all between the kingdoms of Scotland & England would suggest otherwise.
          1. The people of Scotland are Sovereign, the Queen is Queen of Scots, whereas, in England the Queen is Sovereign and Queen of England.
          2. The Royal family has a Scottish Regalia and armorial bearings distinct from that of the English. These things were never amalgamated.

          “On a certain occasion, when her Majesty was presented with a casket, at Holyrood Palace, containing a loyal address, she noted the wrong quartering of the royal arms and returned the casket to have them altered on it to the correct royal arms of Scotland.”
          – St James’s Gazette, Wednesday 30th June, 1897.


  2. “Our present queen has said the line will bypass her son to her grandson William. On his ascending the throne of Great Britain he will be William II of Scotland and V of England,”

    When did the Queen say this? She will be succeeded by Charles, as the constitution demands, and he has said he would like to be known as George VII. As for William, he may very well take another name too.


    1. At the time I wrote this the news had us under the impression the Queen was set to choose William over Charles as next in line. William has said he’s not ready for that role yet. Though you’re right about their ability to choose their moniker, the mention about “William II of Scotland and V of England,” was purely to give an example of the difference in name no. between the two countries, not in a bid to guess what he’d call himself. Thanks for taking an interest.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The Queen cannot choose her successor. As a constitutional monarch she must abide by the constitution which states that the throne must pass to the next in line and that is Prince Charles.

        Scotland is the oldest monarchy in Europe.


        1. Yep that’s fine. Like I said in the answer you’ve replied to, it was mere supposition by the media outlets at the time of writing. I’m afraid I’m no monarchist and have no stake or interest in who ends up on the throne after Elizabeth or what they choose to name themselves. I think the Danes have something of a claim to the oldest monarchy. Thanks for your comment. Take care.


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