|Skellige is its clans. In times of war, tradition holds the clan unite under the leadership of their king. We've bid Bran farewell. Time to pick his successor, who will lead us against the Black Ones. The gates of Kaer Trolde stand open to all who held Bran of Clan Tuirseach dear. Mead and meat will be plentiful. During the wake, those who believe themselves worthy of the crown will step forth.|
|- Crach an Craite, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt|
King of the Skellige Isles, also known as Konung (King) or Rhena (Queen) in the Skellige jargon, is the ruler of Skellige. Originally these isles were inhabited by independent clans, but these later united to face the growing threat from barbarians as well as the rising powers of the Continent. Skellige then became a monarchy and so the king needed his official seat. For this purpose a castle was built on a small island northwest of Ard Skellig and south of Spikeroog, named Kaer Almhult. In practice, however, each ruler preferred to keep to his clan's seat, and Kaer Almhult was left unused. Eventually the decision was made to turn the structure into a prison. From there, it became the lair of a band of outlaws.
The position of monarch is not hereditary; instead, the king (or queen) is elected by the jarls of the influential clans. The jarls can choose to support themselves, their younger relatives, or any other candidate. It's not uncommon for the successor of the throne to be a descendant of a previous ruler. After the king/queen dies, a wake is held in their honor, during which an election is held. Potential candidates for the throne must prove themselves worthy - each candidate can take on a task/mission to prove to the jarls that they're the best fit for the throne. When the jarls have selected their next ruler, a coronation occurs under the hallowed tree, Gedyneith, in the western forests of Ard Skellig, where their chosen candidate is crowned and given an axe. However, unlike the Northern Kingdoms, the king/queen of Skellige does not have absolute power and is more of a symbolic position that relies on the jarls' and the Jarl of Skellige's (the main commander of the fleet) support.
Skellige allows polygamy but the title of queen is given only either to the most high-born wife or the one that gave the king his firstborn children. If the king marries a woman that already holds the title of queen then she is referred to as Ard Rhena ("High Queen") as was the case with Calanthe. When a queen's husband dies she is expected to be burned alive side by side with her love but this is not a mandatory rule, only a custom. In 1272 the widow of Konung Bran, Birna, self-stylized herself as "Queen Mother" in certainty that her son would be crowned as the first hereditary ruler of all Skellige.
After the death of King Bran
After the death of Bran of Clan Tuirseach in the 1270s, several jarls' children vied for the throne and, to prove their worth, attempted to earn the crown by doing various heroic deeds. The list of possible candidates included:
- Otrygg an Hindar of Clan Heymaey
- Blueboy Lugos of Clan Drummond
- Halbjorn of Clan Dimun
- Svanrige an Tuirseach of Clan Tuirseach and Bran's son
- Cerys an Craite of Clan an Craite
- Hjalmar an Craite of Clan an Craite
After berserkers lost control and attacked during the feast, only the Clan an Craite candidates and Clan Tuirseach's remained alive. However, as it happened in the an Craite keep, Cerys and Hjalmar had to clear their family name or the crown would automatically go to the last remaining candidate, Svanrige.