The Entitlement to Rule: Legal, Non-Territorial Sovereignty in International Law

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The following is a sub-chapter from Dr. Kerr’s book The Entitlement to Rule: Legal, Non-Territorial Sovereignty in International Law. The sub-chapter is entitled “Introduction: Dynastic Rights, Sovereignty and Prescription.” It is in volume two, chapter one at   

Most people interested in nobility and royalty have no idea how sovereignty could still be legally intact in a deposed or dethroned royal house that no longer rules a nation.  Domestic law does not perpetuate the right to rule.  Sovereignty does not exist for a deposed royal house under domestic law.  Therefore, no domestic or national law, hereditary or otherwise, can continue or perpetuate such rights. National law only recognizes the sovereignty of the current ruling government, not an exiled government or a dispossessed ruling house.  International law, through prescription, is the only law that directly addresses the maintenance and loss of dynastic and governmental rights.  This will be explained in great detail as it is the foundation upon which all legal sovereign rights can be preserved indefinitely.

          Jura regalia [are defined as] royal rights, — a term comprehending not only those rights which pertain to the political character and authority of the king, but also those rights which are incidental to his regal dignity. . . .[1]

That is, jura regalia are the dynastic rights of both reigning and deposed monarchies.  “. . . Prescriptive acquisition [or forfeiture] of [those] regalian rights . . .” is a legal reality which has taken place from ancient times.[2] (See “The Ancient Rules of Prescription were before all Recorded History” in this chapter)

          “. . . Prescription [is the transfer] of major regalia [royal or dynastic rights] . . .” from one legal entity to another by certain rules.[3]  Prescription has power over all such regal rights and has had this authority from time immemorial as a natural law doctrine.  “Regalia majora,” is defined as “those prerogatives of the King which are part of his sovereignty.“[4]  In other words, royal rights, as great as they are, are merely a part — a subordinate element of the greater or all encompassing right of sovereignty.  That is, “The more considerable royal rights, which are called greater, (regalia majora) . . . are annexed to the sovereignty [of a monarchy]. . . .“[5]  That is, they are an extra or subordinate part, which are added to or annexed to the supreme part or greater right of sovereignty.

As described, royal rights are a lesser aspect annexed to what is supreme or the highest of all. So, even though major regalia is “the king’s dignity, power, and royal prerogative, as opposed to his revenue, which is comprised in the minora regalia,” it is not greater than sovereignty, but is an aspect of it.[6]  “Those [dynastic] prerogatives . . . are part of his sovereignty.“[7]  They are not all of it, but a component part of the it.  “. . . the Rights defined as regal [or dynastic]. . . are adjuncts [supplementary rather than an essential parts] of the power of making law and may be prescribed on the authority of that [sovereign] power in different ways in different commonwealths. . . .“[8] )  In other words, “. . . Majora regalia . . . [are an] attribute [or lesser part] of sovereignty.“[9]  Nevertheless, these important “. . . royal prerogatives [are] inseparable from sovereignty.“[10]

Royal rights being inalienable and inseverable from sovereignty means that if you take de jure sovereignty away from a deposed house, which takes place through prescription, there is no major regality, no royalty, and no dynastic prerogative left.  As an example, a court palatine had authentic royal rights and jurisdiction within his or her territory, but was still subservient to the sovereign authority of the land, which is the highest right or above all.  Being an appendage of sovereignty, royal rights are always subordinate to the supreme authority of the land. Sovereignty is, in fact, the foundation of everything royal and grand.  It is the heart and soul of grandeur – the highest secular entitlement on earth.

Once the all-encompassing attribute of sovereignty has been terminated, all royal rights of a hereditary dynasty are lost with it.  This includes all the rights of:

(1) Jus Imperii,
(2) Jus Gladii,
(3) Jus Majestatis, and
(4) Jus Honorum.

Each is an important attribute of sovereignty authority:

(1)  Jus Imperii is the right to command and legislate. “Jus imperii [is a major component of] the right of sovereignty.“[11]
(2)  Jus Gladii is the right to enforce one’s commands, which is also an indispensable quality without which sovereignty cannot exist.
(3)  Jus Majestatis is the right to be honored, respected and protected, which is also an inseparable part of sovereignty. “. . . The ‘right of majesty’ (Jus Majestatis) i.e. [is an integral aspect of true] sovereignty. . . .“[12]
(4)  Jus Honorum is the right to publically and legally, rather than privately, honor and reward, and, “. . . the jus honorum [like the other qualities] can not exist without the attribute of sovereignty. . . .“[13]

          This right, which is not limited only to the power to grant titles of nobility but also the faculty to bestow other marks of honor, such as pensions, knightly orders, civil and military awards, is strictly connected to the attributes of sovereignty.[14]


         . . . Jus honorarium, which comes from the possession of sovereignty as the other powers that characterize the sovereignty itself (such as jus imperii, jus gladii and jus majestatis) survives . . . when the effective exercise of jus imperii and jus gladi is suspended [not destroyed, but becomes dormant] by the loss, for example, of the effective control over a country.[15]

There is no division between legislative and enforcement rights and the right to honor and be honored.  Sovereignty is not sovereignty if it is not composed of all four elements that comprise this important quality. In other words, there is no such thing as holding only the right to be honored and the right to honor others and not also hold the right to command and the right to make laws.  One must have all four characteristics or one does not hold the highest of all secular rights — the right or entitlement to rule. In other words, by analogy, one can’t be partially pregnant, sort of dead, kind of human, or almost sovereign. Supremacy is an all or nothing quality for either a reigning dynasty or a deposed royal house. All four qualities equal, or amount, to sovereignty. Anything less is non-sovereign. As stated below:

          It is certain that sovereignty comprehends the exercise of four fundamental rights: the JUS IMPERII, which is the right of command; the JUS MAJESTATIS, which is the right to be honored, respected and protected; and the JUS HONORUM, which is the right to reward merit and virtue.[16]

Dispossessed royal houses continue to hold all four rights of sovereignty:

          When the sovereign loses the territory, on which he used to exercise the JUS IMPERII and the JUS GLADII, he does not lose the [four] sovereign rights.  He still conserves IN PECTORE [in abstentia] and IN POTENTIA [in potential] the above-mentioned rights [all four of them], of which the effective exercise is [merely] suspended. . . .[17]

There is no difference between deposed sovereignty and reigning sovereignty except in form. They are fundamentally the same. The dispossessed king or sovereign prince still holds the right to legislate and enforce even if he is deposed, because he still holds the legal rightnot the power, but the legal and lawful entitlement to rule as long as he, and his successors, continue to perpetuate this right.

One with “. . . sovereignty does not cease to be such even if he . . . makes promises . . . [like creating] a constitution limiting the exercise of [his] powers. . . .“[18]  He still holds all the sovereign rights of imperium and gladii even though he cannot exercise them because of the constitution does not allow him to.  By analogy, Grotius explained:

If the head of the household promises that he will do for it something which affects the government of it, he will not on that account cease to have full authority over his household, so far as matters of the household are concerned. A husband, furthermore, is not deprived of the power conferred on him by marriage because he has promised something to his wife.[19]

Without all four of these fundamental elements either in an active or inactive state, no reigning or deposed king or prince holds any sovereignty or royal rights.

If the Sovereign [has] abdicated or been lawfully deposed . . . his legal title to international rights and favours has ceased.“[20]  That is, not only is such a person without valid legal title under domestic law, but also under international law.  He or she has lost every royal and sovereign privilege — no longer having a legal and lawful public right to anything regal, supreme or grand.  This kind of loss of every dynastic right is equally true of a deposed house that neglects their rights. Because:

          . . . After so many years of prescription [that is, 50 to 100 years of negligent abandonment of their once valid royal claims] our [former or deposed] kings and emperors [forfeit or] have lost all those true and ancient imperial rights [of rulership and royal honors and privileges]. . . .[21]

It ceases to exist by natural law. However, if a depose house is prescriptively intact, that house will have the full international right to rule — all four qualities, but not necessarily the power, to operate and function in all four areas. Nevertheless, if de jure, deposed sovereignty is forfeited, there is nothing left.  Everything sovereign, and therefore royal, is gone. Sjuch a family no longer holds their former kingdom’s highest and most supreme right, (the priceless right of sovereignty), they are no longer royal, grand or anything other than commoners with no more authority than anyone else.  All honors must spring from a genuine, authentic source or fountain of honor otherwise it must be rejected as worthless pretense.

          It is [quite] possible that the great, grandson of a deposed king might grieve over the loss of the hereditary [or dynastic] rights to a kingdom which would have descended to him if it had not been forfeited [or lost] by his ancestor.  But again, if he were a reasonable man, and if he had the opportunity of an honorable career and a happy life in a private station, he might not regret the lack of royal dignity, and he might be perfectly contented with his actual state.[22]

Obviously, commoners, who have lost their rights are no longer princes or de jure kings.  They do not have the right to bear titles, and honor others, as they are merely regular people and citizens of their lands.  So it could be a great disappointment to them.  But a true non-territorial sovereign, from a royal family that has maintain it, prescriptively holds all the rights and majesty of his former kingdom or principality.  He is a genuine and true sovereign, an international public person in international law.  Furthermore, recognized by others or not, he is genuine and authentic.

The important point here is, to have illustrious royal ancestors and even be the firstborn descendant of such a family who once ruled a land means nothing legally if sovereignty has been forfeited.  If the precious quality of sovereignty is gone, or lost in any of a number of different ways, which will be discussed later in this chapter, so is the legitimate right of holding any royal entitlement, prerogative, or privilege.  Nothing is left over.  You simply cannot hold the rights to something that has been legally and lawfully terminated on both a domestic and international level.

The point is, “. . . the Rights of Princes to their thrones are . . . Legal Rights . . .” through prescription, which can preserve or terminate such.[23]  “[Both internal and external] sovereignty is . . . merely [a] legal conception. . . .“[24]  Since sovereign right “. . . is conferred by law . . . ,” it can also be taken away or terminated by law[25]  In other words, the law giveth and the law can just as easily take away.  “No man is King or Prince by instrument of nature [not by natural law], but every King and king’s son hath his dignity and preeminence above other men, by authority only of the common wealth [that is, by domestic law].“[26]  Dynastic or hereditary rights are:

          . . . human laws . . . [that] enable men to transmit with their blood property, titles of nobility, or the hereditary right to a crown.  These privileges may be forfeited for himself and his posterity. . . .  They may be forfeited for posterity, because they are not natural rights.[27]

          To illustrate this fact, note that there are hundreds of different combinations of hereditary injunctions.  Succession can be patriarchal or matriarchal, it can be by rota (ladder or staircase), semi-elective, designation or appointment, by marriage, wills, intestate procedures, dynastic, or family pacts and reversibility in case one family became extinct, international treaties, assassination, constitution, parliament, house rules and laws, custom, proximity of blood, ultimogeniture (succession of the youngest), lateral succession, matrilinear, religious, revelatory, primogeniture, agnatic or semi-salic, pragmatic, partible, or any combination thereof, which allows for hundreds of different possible hereditary composites.

          . . . The mere fact that different nations have come to different conclusions about [inheritance or the passing on of dynastic rights] plainly shows that it is a fairly open question about which there is no natural law [principle or universal absolute in regard to the continuance of regal rights through succession] either way.[28]

This leaves succession up to human law, constitution, custom, or house rules, rather than the higher ageless and unchanging law of nature.  With this in mind, dynasty succession rights are finite-domestic national rules subject to loss and change as suits the circumstance.  However, international law does designate the way to change such rules as will be the subject of a sub-chapter in Chapter VI entitled “Legal and Lawful Solutions to Succession Conflicts Provided under International Public Law”  But some, who have not made an in-depth study of this subject, may ask, but:

          Is not hereditary Right, in all hereditary Kingdoms, indefeasible and unlimited?  [Answer]: No there is no such thing as unlimited indefeasible hereditary Right in any Kingdom.[29]

Man-made rights, whether dynastic or hereditary, are not eternal, everlasting or absolute, they are merely man created entitlements that can be altered or come to an end.  Hereditary dynastic rights come not by nature, but “. . . by the operation of civil [house rules or constitutional] law, where this law has established lineal succession. . . .“[30]  It is not “. . . a divine [indestructible] hereditary right, which cannot be defeated [changed, or annulled] by any human act whatsoever, to be inherent in the heir.“[31]  The right of any dynasty is subject to forfeiture as much as any other legal creation.  In fact, hereditary monarchy was not the most common form.  Jean Bodin observed, in the 16th century, that “. . . there are only a very few strictly hereditary monarchies” at that time.[32]  Although this practice changed for many as more and more kingdoms and principalities adopted primogeniture, the point is, royal succession is not indefeasible [or irrevocable].  As Sir William Blackstone declared, “The doctrine of hereditary right does by no means imply an indefeasible right to the throne.“[33]  In fact, as Edmund Burke declared in the 18th century, “. . . no creature now maintains, ‘that the crown is held by divine hereditary and indefeasible right.’“[34]  The idea that dynasties can never die is a dead doctrine once believed by some, but never universally as will be discussed later.

          It is not to be understood, however, that one cannot, by prescription, establish his right . . . which another claims in virtue of his right of relationship [or right by blood or jure sanguinis]. . . .  All that is meant is, that if no other heir has been entered, the right of blood is not lost. . . .[35]

          “Generally it may be said that any right [including dynastic entitlements] may be lost by non-usage which can be acquired by lengthened use [that is, by and through prescription].“[36]  Indefeasible hereditary succession is a discredited idea that has no basis in reality, nor does it have any legal backing.  A whole book was written on this subject showing how:

          Hereditary right [is] not indefeasible [not invincible, absolute or permanent, and this is] . . . founded upon the unalterable laws of society and government, proving that [unforfeitable] right . . . can never belong to any prince or succession of princes.[37]

Prescription is the only international law principle that allows or permits non-territorial sovereignty to exist as a right after dethronement; and it can be passed on to successors depending on the rules of succession.  However, if prescriptive law is disobeyed, the consequence is forfeiture of all that belongs to a royal house.  In other words, lost rights cannot be passed on to the next generation, because “. . . there is [simply] no such thing as unlimited indefeasible [that is, an unforfeitable] hereditary Right in any Kingdom [reigning or deposed].“[38]  Inalienable hereditary rights do not exist in this world outside the context of natural law by virtue of ancient prescriptive rules.

This is important to understand, because knowledge is power.  It is also highly protective.  Knowing how not to be deceived by the charlatans or bogus princes who skillfully fight the truth and knowingly blur legal realities in order to take advantage of innocent, unsuspecting victims, is of great value in a world of so many scammers and counterfeiters.  It is very important to understand the basic inherent facts about sovereignty and royalty, so one is not taken in by those who masquerade as authentic, but who are really only impostors, who impersonate what is real, genuine and true.  Such are liars and deceivers, not honest or honorable men.

The fundamental, basic, or core principles in this chapter have been covered in Volume I, but not in great detail, or in the detail it deserves.  To get a thorough knowledge, more information must be furnished.  Because these concepts are of such great importance to sovereignty, justice and legitimacy in the practice of international law, it is deemed essential to include them and repeat them in different contexts including adding footnotes that not only show references, but also add citations that either expand the understanding or act as additional support to the ideas presented.

          There is clear and unmistakable support for these natural law principles from the majority of experts, scholars, jurists, and publicists throughout the world.  Nevertheless, few people are fully aware of them and their important binding certainty, and therefore their towering implications to the whole field of nobility and royalty and governments-in-exile in terms of the important sovereign right to rule.  Hence, repetition becomes a necessity to expand the general knowledge and understanding of the more intricate details.  As new topics or aspects of prescription are brought up in the chapter and sub-chapters that follow, the opportunity to cite additional quotes, as evidence to reconfirm them and their natural legal foundation will be taken.  In most cases, this central law is at the heart of our ability to discern true claims from false ones.

The essential aspects of international prescriptive law revolve around either the continuance or the elimination of sovereignty.  This is the central axis of the outcome of its rules.  Since all royal and regal rights are deeply ingrained into the constitutional makeup of sovereignty, the rules of prescription becomes a chief concern.  Royal hereditary rights are so intertwined and tangled up together with this law that all royal honors and entitlements cannot have any justification or legitimacy outside of its influence.  If de jure sovereignty is lost by it or any other way, royalty no longer has any lawful existence or legal standing in the real world – not through any law on earth domestic or otherwise.  Royalty ends with the loss of sovereignty, because it is inseparably connected to it.  Therefore the maintenance of sovereignty through prescription is of utmost importance to deposed royal houses if they are to continue as such.  A dispossessed royal house cannot be royal, regal, imperial, and rightful or hold any privileges outside of it.  A government-in-exile as an organization is also meaningless and void without sovereignty.  It is nothing, but a pretense of something real without this important right.  Sovereignty is therefore the core issue and prescription determines whether this critical quality will legally survive.

[1]  James A. Ballantine, Ballantine’s Law Dictionary, 3rd. ed., “jura regalia,” 1969, p. 689 and United States Senate, Hearings, 1939, p. 440;  Note: “REGALIAN DOCTRINE or JURE REGALIA: The term refers to royal rights, or those rights to which the King has by virtue of his prerogatives.” (Transcript of CRUZ vs. SECRETARY of ENVIRONMENT and NATURAL RESOURCES GR No. 135835, December 6, 2000; 2016:

[2]  Rocky Mountain Medieval and Renaissance Association, Journal of the Rocky Mountain Medieval and Renaissance Association, vol. 10-12, 1989, p. 39.

[3]  Colin Forbes Wilder, “Property, Possession and Prescription: The Rule of Law in the Hessian and Rhine – Main Region of Germany, 1648-1776,” Dissertation, University of Chicago, August 2010, p. 416;  Note: Note: “Among the estates of the realm [principalities, counties, etc. of the Holy Roman empire] a distinction is to be made if they constitute greater or lesser powers (regalia majora, [regalia] minora); for obtaining the former [‘regalia majora’ defined as dynastic rights] praescriptio immemorialis [immemorial prescription] is an absolute necessity; in regalia minora [minor royal rights], the laws of the empire decide.” (Immanuel Clauss, “Die Lehre von den Staatsdienstbarkeiten [1893],” International Servitudes, James Brown Scott, ed., 1910, p. 65)

[4]  Arthur English, A Dictionary of Words and Phrases Used in Ancient and Modern Law, vol. 2, “Regalia majora,” 2000, p. 679;  Note: “Among the estates of the realm [principalities, counties, etc. of the Holy Roman empire] a distinction is to be made if they constitute greater or lesser powers (regalia majora, [regalia] minora); for obtaining the former [‘regalia majora’ defined as dynastic rights] praescriptio immemorialis [immemorial prescription] is an absolute necessity; in regalia minora [minor royal rights], the laws of the empire decide.” (Immanuel Clauss, “Die Lehre von den Staatsdienstbarkeiten [1893],” International Servitudes, James Brown Scott, ed., 1910, p. 65)

[5]  Prussian Kingdom, The Frederician Code: or, A Body of Law for the Dominions of the King of Prussia, vol. 2, 1761, p. 60;  Note: “These are called regal prerogatives, or the prerogatives of majesty,” but again, regalia majora is only a subordinate component of the greater attribute of sovereignty. (Emerich de Vattel, The Law of Nations, Book I, chapter 4, no. 45)  “Regalia [are] the royal rights of a king [or a dynasty]. . . .” (Archibald Brown, A New Law Dictionary and Institute of the Whole Law, 2nd ed., “Regalia,” 1880, p. 452)  These rights are divided into two words.  “. . . ‘Regalia majora,’ that is rights of sovereignty proper, and ‘regalia minora’ which were [minor] incidentals. . . . ” (Rudolf Heubner, A History of German Private Law, Francis B. Philbrick, trans., 1918, p. 270)  Both “. . . regalia minor and the regalia majora are rights vested in the Crown,” but regalia majora, the hereditary dynastic rights of a royal house, are inseparably connected to and part of the higher right of sovereignty. (House of Commons, Official Report of the Standing Committees, vol. 7, 1972, p. xviii)  Take sovereignty away and both regalia majora and minora cease to exist as entitlements.

[6]  Law Dictionary, What is Majora Regalia?, 2013:

[7]  Arthur English, A Dictionary of Words and Phrases Used in Ancient and Modern Law, vol. 2, “Regalia majora,” 2000, p. 679;  Note: “Regalia: royal rights or prerogatives. Regalia majora: such as are part of the King’s sovereignty, inseparable; minora, such as are created or conferred upon him.” (Frederic Jesup Stimpson [1855-1943], Glossary of Technical Terms, Phrases, and Maxims of the Common Law, 2013, p. 257)

[8]  John Locke, Locke: Political Essays, Michael Goldie, ed., pp. 56-57.

[9]  Hippolyte A. Taine, The Modern Regime, vol. 1, Svend Rom, annotator, John Durant, trans., 1880, Note: 14, 2006, p. 123;  Note: “. . . Regalia majora . . . are attributable to [or result from] the Crown’s right of sovereignty. . . .” (Lloyd’s Maritime and Commercial Law Quarterly, 1984, p. 267)

[10]  James Arthur Ballentine, A Law Dictionary, “Regalia majora,” 1916, p. 429;  Note: “Regalia majora [dynastic or royal rights are] essential Parts [not the whole] of the Sovereignty.” (Hugo Grotius, The Rights of War and Peace, Knud Haakonssen, ed., Book 2, chapter 4, no. 8, 2005, p. 502)

[11]  Professor Ruben Balane’s and Prof. Araceli Baviera’s lectures on succession entitled, “Notes and Cases on Succession,” 1996, p. 106, 2013:

[12]  The First Federalist: Johannes Althusius, Krisis, vol. 22, Julia Kostova, trans., March 1999, p. 12, see also, 2013: the_first_federalist_althusius_djvu.txt.

[13]  Sanchez Ramirez de Arellano, The Jus Honorum, Guy Stair Sainty, ed., 2013:

[14]  Ibid.

[15]  Ibid.

[16]  Charles Louis Thourot Pichel, Samogitia: the Unknown in History, 1975, p. 306-307.

[17]  Ibid.

[18]  Hugo Grotius, The Law of War and Peace, Book I, chapter 3, no. 16.

[19]  Ibid.

[20]  Robert Phillimore, Commentaries Upon International Law, vol. 2, 1871, p. 142.

[21]  Quote from Hermann Conring (1606-1681) in Constantin Fasolt, Past Sense — Studies in Medieval and Early Modern European History, 2014, p. 364.

[22]  A. F. Hewitt, “Future Destiny of Infants,” Catholic World, vol. 51, No. 305, August 1890, p. 578.

[23]  “An Inquiry into the Nature and Obligation of Legal Rights,” A Collection of State Tracts, publish’d during the Reign of King William III, vol. 2, 1705, p. 394.

[24]  Neil MacCormick, Questioning Sovereignty: Law, State, and Nation in the European Commonwealth, 1999, p. 127.

[25]  Ibid.;  Note: Prescriptive law confers and maintains sovereignty. In other words, “. . . ‘quia lex facit regem . . . the law creates the king.” (Thomas Taylor, A Law Glossary, 1819, p. 171)  Powerful natural laws like prescription also terminates the rights of all royal houses that abandon their rights.

[26]  R. Doleman, (pseudonym for Fr Robert Parsons), Conference About the Next Succession, 1594, pp. 142, 198-199.

[27]  “Problems of the Age,” Catholic World, vol. 4, October 1866 to March 1867, p. 528.

[28]  “Hereditary Succession,” The Saturday Review of Politics, Literature, Science and Art, (18) vol. 455, no. 18, July 16, 1864, p. 80.

[29]  A. Dodd, The Case of the Revolution Truly Stated, 1746, p. 23.

[30]  Thomas Rutherforth, Institutes of Natural Law: Being the Substance of a Course of Lectures on Grotius De Jure Belli Et Pacis, 1832, p. 581.

[31]  Ibid.

[32]  Jean Bodin, Six Books of the Commonwealth (1576), M. J. Tooley, trans., 1955, p. 26.

[33]  Sir William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, vol. 1, 1838, p. 149.

[34]  Edmund Burke, “Reflections on the French Revolution,” The Five Foot Shelf of Classics, 2009, p. 174.

[35]  John Trayner, Latin Maxims and Phrases, 4th ed., 1894, pp. 297-298.

[36]  Ibid., p. 401.

[37]  A true Scotchman, and lover of his Country, Hereditary Right Not Indefeasible: or, some arguments, founded upon the unalterable laws of society and government, proving that the right claimed by the Jacobites can never belong to any prince or succession of princes, 1747, Title of Book from its Cover Page.

[38]  A. Dodd, The Case of the Revolution Truly Stated, 1746, p. 23.