Most rulers have spouses and many have mistresses(or "misters?") as well. However often times only one of the couple exercises rule and the other is merely to decorate the palace
, provide heirs, seal alliances and entertain
A ruling couple on the other hand are equal or near equal
partners. Rather then one ruling and one staying in the palace
they jointly rule. The rulers will rely on each other as a trusted counselors and they will be The Wise Prince
and The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask
in one. Perhaps they will show this by receiving audiences on two thrones. Perhaps the consort will have a regular seat in the royal council and a vote. Perhaps even the two of them will discuss deep and labyrinthine affairs of state during matrimonial activities
. And likely they will be addressed as partners and written down as such in the chronicles. If historians refer only to the reign of Alice or the reign of Bob then this trope might be averted. If however historians regularly refer to the reign of alice and bob then it is a ruling couple.
This usually refers to a monarchial government as monarchy is intentionally a Family Business
. Rarely it can be pictured in The Republic
On many occasions, they will also be a Battle Couple
- Belisarius Series: Justinian and Theodora(and in Real Life) for the Romans; Rao and Shakuntala for the Marathans; Kungas and Irene for the Kushans.
- Belgarion and Ce'Nedra of Riva, and Korodullin and Mayaserana of Arendia from the Belgariad.
- Selenay and Daren of Valdemar
- Dune: Leto and Jessica
- Deryni This seems to be Kelson's plan for Araxie in King Kelson's Bride, as it had been for Rothana in The Quest for Saint Camber. Since things with Rothana didn't pan out, and since Araxie is also a Haldane by birth, Kelson suggests triggering the Haldane potential in her as it has already been done in himself. Araxie is not averse to the idea and enters into thoughtful speculation on the matter; no Haldane has ever been Queen of Gwynedd before, and it isn't known if a female Haldane could have her potential triggered (or even that she carries it).
- Eugenides and Irene in The Queen's Thief series.
- Lord of the Rings: Celeborn and Galadrial
- Though Galadrial often seems to be the senior partner
- Following the second book in The Sword Of Truth series, the protagonist, Richard Rahl, ascends to his hereditary title as ruler of the D'Haran Empire. Two books later, he marries Kahlan Amnell, the Mother Confessor (basically, the ruler of a race of women that can permanently brainwash anyone just by touching them) and become, ostensibly, the most powerful husband and wife duo in the world. While Richard is undoubtedly the more active and usually the more dominant of the two, the two are practically equals, with people sworn to serve Richard also sworn to serve Kahlan and vice-versa. There are not very many moments in the story where the two are allows to rule as a partnership (almost every time they get together, they're torn apart or one is taken out of commission via Diabolus Ex Machina), but there are smatterings of it here and there.
- Cayleb and Sharleyan in Safehold. There are married rulers in the books, but these two are the only case where they're co-rulers with equal authority. A number of their decisions after their marriage are made partly to emphasize this fact.
- The Silmarillion: Manwe and Varda
- 1632: Mike Sterns and Rebecca though of course Grantsville/USE is not a monarchy. Still the same sort of interaction applies.
- In addition to Selenay and Daren in the Valdemar books, any royal spouse will become a co-consort provided that he/she is also chosen as a herald. There are several examples of this mentioned in the back story.
- Vorkosigan Saga: Aral and Cordelia are Viceroy and Vicereine of Sergyar. Not bad for a culture where, just a few years earlier, a woman had to have a sex change operation to be allowed onto the Council of Counts.
- Sheridan and Delenn on Babylon 5. In this case it is a bit complicated as rather then being heads of government they are heads of a trans-state La Résistance that includes some government leaders. Later they both lead an intersteller confederation.
- Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain
- William and Mary of Great Britain.
- Another Real Life example would be Nicholas and Alexandra of Russia, at least after WWI broke out. After Nicholas took personal command of the army and went to the front, Alexandra ruled in Petrograd in his stead. It didn't work out so well...