Someday, Their Prince Will Come

Who's next in line to lead the House of Saud? King Abdullah, 87, is unwell, having recently traveled to the United States for medical treatment, and speculation is heating up about his replacement. Unfortunately, none of the potential candidates is getting any younger either.

Brooks Kraft/Corbis
Brooks Kraft/Corbis

Crown Prince Sultan, 86 | Defense minister
Half brother to King Abdullah and the designated successor, Sultan has been treated for cancer twice and until recently was convalescing in Morocco.

Prince Nayef, 77 | Interior minister, second deputy prime minister
The full brother of Crown Prince Sultan, the hard-line interior minister is perhaps best known for claiming that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by Jews. After Sultan, he’s the apparent next in line to rule, but his advanced age makes him a stopgap solution at best.

Prince Khalid bin Sultan, 61 | Deputy defense minister
Crown Prince Sultan’s son, Khalid has military credentials as commander of Arab forces during the 1991 liberation of Kuwait. Although he crowed about his role in his memoir, Desert Warrior, many claim that he merely took orders from U.S. Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf.

Prince Khalid al-Faisal, 69 | Governor
Riyadh’s renaissance man is a poet and painter and is widely respected among different factions of the family. He’s rumored to be a top candidate for king someday but for now is only a governor (though of the holy province of Mecca).

Andrew Swift is an editorial researcher at Foreign Policy.