Most rulers have spouses and many have mistresses (or "misters?") as well. However, often only one of the couple exercises rule and the other is merely to decorate the palace, provide heirs, seal alliances and entertain the king.
A ruling couple, on the other hand, are equal or near equal
partners, and may even be Happily Married
. Rather then one ruling and one staying in the palace
they jointly rule. The rulers will rely on each other as trusted counselors and they will be The Good King
and The High Queen
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
. Only rarely can it be pictured in The Republic
On many occasions, they will also be a Battle Couple
Anime and Manga
- In Anatolia Story, Prince Kail Mursili and Time Traveler Yuri Ishtar aspire to become this so they can justly rule over the Hitite Empire and fend off the Big Bad, Queen Nakia. They succeed. For more bonus points, Yuri is an expy of the below mentioned Queen Puduhepa, who in history was Mursili's daughter-in-law and later became a key part in the rule of her husband Hattusili.
- The Metabarons Universe has the brother-sister ruling couple Magellan and Magaella, and then in the next generation it's taken up to eleven with the siamese twin "emperoratriz" Janus-Jana, which is the two components of this trope folded into a grotesque single entity.
- In Things We Don't Tell Humans, Optimus Prime and Elita-One, as well as Megatron and Nightbird, are this. Despite Optimus and Megatron being the ones with the Matrix/official title, their consorts are held as equal (or at least, equally capable) ruling partners. It's Elita who takes over as leader of the Autobots in the Revenge Arc, rather than Prowl, his second-in-command.
- This is the case in 300. Leonidas depends heavily on Gorgo and even, at one point, seems to ask her permission to throw a Persian messenger in a well. Fact is, we see Gorgo. That is more than can be said of Leonidas' co-king who would be (historically speaking) ruler along side him.
- It's unclear if Brave's queen, Elinor, has any official power, but she's the one who runs the day-to-day affairs of her kingdom while her husband, Fergus, defends it from invaders or enchanted demon-bears.
- In a bit of an odd example, the ruling couple of Denmark in A Royal Affair are the queen and the king's physician, who are carrying on the titular affair and manipulating the cruel, mentally ill king to pass the laws and reforms they want to improve the country. It works, until some of the more conservative members of the court catch on and inform the king... And he's fine with it.
- In a more implied example, the King and Queen in Tangled are always referred to jointly whenever who rules Corona is mentioned. Even at the end when Rapunzel reclaims her birth right, the closing monologue states that she rules "with all the grace and wisdom that her parents did before her". The only way we know the Queen is the royal consort is that the King wears Corona's symbol.
- It is again implied in Frozen, with the King and Queen of Arendelle. They are almost always shown together, and if their final onscreen moments alive are any indication, both participate equally in international royal events (Word of God states that they were going to a wedding; given the timeline and cameo, possibly Rapunzel's.) We know the King is the reigning monarch because in all his portraits in the castle, he is the one who carries the orb and scepter.
- 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.
- Rhodar and Porrenn of Drasnia divide their power: One for internal affairs, the other for external ones.
- Selenay and Daren of Valdemar. In fact, any royal spouse will become a co-consort provided that he/she is also chosen as a herald. There are several examples of this in the back story.
- 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.
- The Lord of the Rings: Celeborn and Galadriel, on paper. In practice, Galadriel definitely wears the pants, which makes sense if you read The Silmarillion and all the badass stuff she got up to in the backstory.
- After the second book in The Sword of Truth series, the hero, 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: Manwë and Varda, the King and Queen of the Valar.
- Thingol and Melian also count to a degree; while Thingol does most of the day-to-day business of ruling, it's Melian's powers as a Maia that protect the kingdom from outside threats.
- 1632: Mike Sterns and Rebecca, though of course, Grantsville/USE is not a monarchy. Still the same sort of interaction applies.
- 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.
- A couple of instances in The Wheel of Time. The Sea Folk have the Mistress of the Ships (always female political leader) and the Master of the Blades (always male millitary leader)- which takes precedence depends on whether the Sea Folk are currently at peace or war. Among the Aiel, male clan chiefs are the political and millitary leaders while female shaman-types called Wise Ones are the spiritual leaders- as it's not unknown for a clan chief to marry a Wise One, this trope sometimes results. Finally, in Tarabon the King handles external affairs and the Panarch (highest-ranked noblewoman) handles internal ones, though they're not neccessarily married (both are elected independantly from among the nobility following the death or downfall of their predeccessor).
- Princess Kristin and Prince Mark rule Tasavalta together in Fred Saberhagen's Books Of Lost Swords. Strictly speaking, Kristin is the ruler, and Mark is her consort, but in practice, the two of them share power. When Kristin was dominated by Murat using the Mindsword, the Tasavaltan army, and the royal court wizard, Karel (who is also Kristin's uncle), obeyed Mark's orders without question.
- This is instituted as a compromise in A Song of Ice and Fire. Daenerys conquers the eastern city-state of Meereen with an army of freedmen and a handful of (untrained but still scary) dragons, but she annoys a lot of the city's former ruling elite, and her officers start getting assassinated in the middle of the night in protest at her rule. Eventually she consents to marry one of the nobles and rule jointly, despite not liking or trusting him.
- Eric Bloodaxe and Gunnhild Mother of Kings, in Mother of Kings by Poul Anderson.
- Sheridan and Delenn on Babylon 5. In this case, it is a bit complicated, as rather than being heads of government, they are heads of a trans-state La Résistance that includes some government leaders. Later they both lead an interstellar confederation. Also, did we mention that they are two parts of a three-part Chosen One?
- King Arthur and Queen Guinevere as of the end of series four of Merlin.
- Arthur and Joan Campbell in Covert Affairs aren't royalty but they kind of act like a Ruling Couple.
- Farscape: This is why John ends up married to a Sebacean princess—their laws state that a couple must rule together and the princess can only marry a man who can provide her with healthy children.
- Game of Thrones portrays King Renly Baratheon and Queen Margaery Tyrell (who got very little focus in the books) as an example of this. Margaery is Renly's Beard, since his real lover is her brother Loras, but she's also his ambitious Lady Macbeth (jointly with Loras—a Ruling One True Threesome, perhaps?), his counsellor, his spin doctor and his guarantee of support from her wealthy and powerful family. (Renly himself is rightfully the Spare To The Throne, and needs all the legitimate power he can get). When we see them holding an informal court, they're sitting in two equally prominent thrones. We never get to see what they would have been like as true rulers due to Renly's death, but as of season three Margaery is busy getting her hooks into her new fiancée, King Joffrey.
- Graham and Valanice of King's Quest. It's implied that Alexander and Cassima will be this as well.
- In Dragon Age: Origins, it is possible to set up Queen Anora and Alistair as the Ruling Couple of Ferelden, but only if both agree to such a marriage and the latter's personality has been hardened (if not hardened, he ends up as a puppet ruler more interested in partying than being useful).
- If playing as the Female Human Noble, romancing Alistair can make the Warden eventually become his Hot Consort. It's lampshaded in the second game that she is clearly the one wearing the trousers in the relationship; it's further noted that the people of Ferelden absolutely adore her, particularly now that the other countries are downright terrified of how much of a badass their Queen is. Her husband also kind of worships the ground she walks on, and when he refers to her as "the old ball and chain," it's said with obvious affection.
Alistair: Just because she killed an Archdemon, she doesn't scare me!
Teagan: You keep telling yourself that, Your Majesty...
- While the Female Human Noble is the only one able to become officially the Queen, the other Female Wardens can opt to become the unofficial Hot Consort for Alistair if he remains single, or his mistress if he's married to Anora, .
- Male Human Nobles have the option to marry Anora and set themselves up as the new Ruling Couple of Ferelden, making the Warden her Hot Consort.
- In Fire Emblem: Sword of Seals, if Prince Roy of Pherae marries Princess Lilina of Ostia, they unite their territories and rule as equals.
- In Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, if either Ephraim of Renais or Innes of Frelia marry L'Arachel, they become this since L'Arachel is the heiress of the Theocracy of Rausten by her own birthright.
- The Spartans had a subversion of this. They had two kings, and on top of that a whole busload of other institutions to rule. Most of the time, though, one king tended to get the upper hand, even though theoretically speaking both were equal.
- Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain. Isabella was Queen Regnant of Castile in her own right, and marrying Ferdinand of Aragon united their two kingdoms into one Spain.
- Ferdinand and Isabella's daughter Joanna and Joanna's husband Philip of Burgundy were supposed to be this. But they spent their first year or two as rulers of Castile bickering with Ferdinand (Isabella had predeceased him in 1504) about whether he should be Regent of Castile until he died and passed the whole kingdom down to his daughter, or if Joanna and Philip should rule in Castile right now, and then Philip died unexpectedly (in 1506), and Joanna's depression and schizophrenia (or something) popped up, and the whole thing ended rather badly.
- William and Mary of England, Scotland and Ireland, as a compromise - she had the better claim, but not by much (he was her cousin), and he already had considerable power in the Netherlands in his own right, while also being more popular with those who didn't want to see a woman on the throne.
- Nicholas and Alexandra of Russia, at least after World War I 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, because both were incompetent: Nicholas as a military leader (though half-competent as a peacetime monarch, you should give him at least some credit), Alexandra in everything in general.
- Suleiman the Magnificent and his wife Roxelana, who was an important advisor to him after being freed from his harem.
- Emperor Justinian and his wife Theodora led the Byzantine Empire.
- Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Victoria and Albert had nine children. Needless to say, Victoria spent a lot of time pregnant (and, therefore, unable to attend to many matters of state); Albert was effectively the monarch while Victoria was otherwise occupied carrying and nursing the forbears of nearly every royal family of Europe. Still, even when Victoria was at her best, she relied a great deal on Albert's advice and support.
- King Hattusili III and Queen Puduhepa from the Hittite Empire. They ruled together, with Hattusili in charge of the military while Puduhepa handled the diplomatic issues.
- King Edward III of England and Queen Philippa are indicated by many historical records to have been this; they had a Perfectly Arranged Marriage complete with ten children, and she frequently governed England on his behalf while he was fighting in the Hundred Years' War.