Malcolm is Duncan’s eldest son. He is declared as Duncan’s heir at the end of the opening battle, an event that Macbeth sees as an obstacle to his ambitions.

Upon Duncan’s death, Malcolm and Donalbain flee from Scotland, fearing that they will suffer a fate similar to Duncan. This is perceived as guilt, and they are blamed for Duncan’s murder.

He is later seen hiding in England with Macduff, where he tests Macduff’s loyalty to Scotland and to him by lying about himself. When Macduff proves to be loyal to Scotland, he reveals his true, kingly nature and tells of his plan to regain Scotland from Macbeth. He suggests that his soldiers disguise themselves as trees from Birnan Wood, and thus brings about a sign of Macbeth’s downfall. It is implied, at the end of the play that he will be crowned king.


What I am truly,
Is thine, and my poor country’s, to command

— Act IV, scene 3

Need to know

• Son of Duncan

• Tests the loyalty of Macduff

Key quote

What I believe, I’ll wail; What know, believe; and what I can redress, As I shall find the time to friend, I will.

— Act IV, scene 3

Also called

Our eldest, Malcolm
— Act I, scene 4

Malcolm, and Donalbain, the King’s two sons
— Act IV, scene 3


The Prince of Cumberland
— Act I, scene 4