Most rulers have spouses and many have mistresses (or "misters", historically cicisbeos) 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.
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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.
- In Sally the Witch, Sally's mother is both the Hot Consort and the advisor of her husband aka Sally's dad aka the King of Astoria.
- 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.
Films — Animated
- 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 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.
- A unique example in The Book of Life. Xibalba and La Muerte are rulers, but each govern different worlds.
Films — Live-Action
- Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and his wife, Tsarina Alexandra, as portrayed in Nicholas and Alexandra. They are really really bad at it (see Real Life below).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 the Heralds of Valdemar series. Queen Selenay inherited the throne as King Sendar's only child, while Daren married into the family and remains a Prince, though he has an equal vote in Council and nearly as much say in ruling the Kingdom as she does. 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). Kelson's mother, Queen Jehana, was a member of the King's Council suggesting that it is normal for Haldane Kings to treat their consorts as partners.
- 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 many moments in the story where the two are allowed 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 military 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 necessarily married (both are elected independantly from among the nobility following the death or downfall of their predecessor).
- 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.
- A Song of Ice and Fire:
- This is instituted as a compromise when 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.
- In the backstory, Aegon the Conqueror and his sisters/wives, Visenya and Rhaenys, functioned as this. He was closer with his younger sister than his older sister though.
- Princess Nymeria and Prince Mors Martell were crowned together when they defeated the other Dornish kings.
- Jaehaerys Targaryen I, widely agreed in-universe to be one of the best, if not the best, kings of Westeros, also formed one with his sister-wife Alysanne, who was known as "Good Queen Alysanne". While she was by-law just his consort, she had just as much of an impact as he did, and was his most trusted adviser. In-story, she is credited with breathing new life into the Night's Watch organization and convincing Jaehaerys to outlaw "the right of first night".
- Eric Bloodaxe and Gunnhild Mother of Kings, in Mother of Kings by Poul Anderson.
- Malazan Bookofthe Fallen: Tehol and Janath, after the seventh book.
- In the Tairen Soul series, Dorian and Annoura are Celeria's rulers. Dorian is slightly more powerful (as he deals with military matters and has the right to invoke primus) but he often asks for political advice from Annoura, and Celeria's court is specifically molded by her preferences. When Ellysetta's engagement to Den is legally challenged, both Dorian and Annoura sit in judgement. Unfortunately, when their relationship starts to deteriorate, so does Celeria's safety...
- Eldraeverse: The Empire of the Star is ruled by the Imperial Couple, the Emperor and Empress having equal power under the Imperial Charter.
- In The Death Gate Cycle, King Stephen and Queen Anne are like this, their marriage having unified the previously separate kingdoms of Volkaran and Ulyndia. Officially it's a political marriage that barely holds together, where both parties hate each other and scheme to have the other assassinated so they could take sole control. In actuality, Stephen and Anne are very much Happily Married and carry out the charade in order to better play the various court factions off one another.
- 1066 and All That plays with this by combining William III and Mary II into "the memorable Dutch King Williamanmary," though it also portrays this Composite Character as a non-anthropomorphic orange.
Live Action TV
- 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 (2008) and throughout season five.
- 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. When it turned out he didn't have the necessary lifespan he suggested she marry a counselor she actually loved, as she was already pregnant with John's child.
- 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? Actress Natalie Dormer has described them as a trinity and Renly is seen Talking in Bed with Loras about matters of state), 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. Renly even incorporates the Tyrell colours into his sigil. 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. When Joffrey himself is killed via poisoning, she's married off to his younger brother Tommen, and they are on the road to being something close to this.
- In the Magic: The Gathering expansion "Theros", the city of Akros has Amax and Cymede, a married couple who serve as rulers, and are also the most renowned heroes of the city-state.
- Thomas Moore and Princess Fayiltha from Rocket Age. Fayiltha mostly deals with management of Polintal and its affairs of state, while Thomas mostly handles the army. Surprisingly Thomas is much loved by the people despite being an Earthling married to a Martian princess.
- Graham and Valanice of King's Quest. It's implied that Alexander and Cassima will be this as well.
- Dragon Age: Origins:
Alistair: Just because she killed an Archdemon, she doesn't scare me!Teagan: You keep telling yourself that, Your Majesty...
- It is possible to set up Queen Anora and her brother in law 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 King 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.
- 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 Queen Anora.
- Male Human Nobles have the option to marry the aforementioned Anora and set themselves up as the new Ruling Couple of Ferelden, making the Warden her Hot Consort.
- All over the place in Fire Emblem:
- In Fire Emblem: Sword of Seals, if Prince Roy of Pherae marries Princess Lilina of Ostia, they unite their territories. Even more, they also manage to reunite the other territories of Lycia into the Lycian Kingdom and rule wisely over them, with Lilina being implied to have the biggest share of leadership (Ostia is the most powerful realm in Lycia and she also creates the Lycian League in her solo ending]]).
- 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. It can also happen if Ephraim marries Innes's sister Tana or Innes marries Ephraim's sister Eirika, as both guys are the Crown Princes and both women are ladies of war.
- In Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, if Elincia and Geoffrey, or Micaiah and Sothe, max out their support rank, then the epilogue states that said couple are fantastic rulers who lead their kingdoms into a golden age.
- Happens automatically in Fire Emblem Awakening—Prince Chrom becomes Exalt in Chapter 11, and marries whichever of his Love Interests he has the most support points with. They are stated to be a good match for the country, and aren't afraid to step out onto the battlefield again.note
- In Fire Emblem Fates, when the player finishes the Revelation path, the Avatar is crowned as the King or Queen of the reborn Kingdom of Valla. If said Avatar is married, his/her consort are specifically said to double as the new sovereign's Number Two and, in Azura's case, advisor.
- In Tears to Tiara 2 we have Hamil and Tart. The former is The Hero and The Good King, while the latter is the Goddess that he's ritually married to. Any decision goes through the both of them, and they advise each other regularly.
- Ashe and Rasler from Final Fantasy XII were like this, until he died. Then things got weird.
- The conclusion of Mortal Kombat X seats Liu Kang and Kitana as the rulers of the Netherrealm following the Evil Power Vacuum left behind by the death of Quan Chi and the permanent incapacitation of Shinnok.
- A variant in The Legend of Korra: after the death of their father, siblings Desna and Eska rule the Northern Water Tribe together. Though there is still a scene with some Incest Subtext...
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic also has sibling co-rulers with Princesses Celestia and Luna. This unfortunately went a bit wrong in the backstory when Luna grew jealous at how everyone liked her sister better, in the present day Celestia still seems to be the effective ruler with Luna more often seen out Doing Stuff.
- In general, queens in Medieval Europe - though they rarely possessed more power than the king - had a good deal of power and, accordingly, duties to fulfill. Among these duties were acting as an advisor, organizing festivities, and in some cases making financial or legal decisions or serving as regent (should the reigning monarch be indisposed or away). In cases of the queen holding the title, it can be reasonably presumed that the king served similar roles.
- 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 III and Mary II 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.
- It was more because Mary herself refused to reign as sole sovereign, because she felt it would be unfair to her husband.
- 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 and becoming the first Haseki Sultan aka "chief wife" to the Ottoman rulers.
- 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. It also was arguably the case that Victoria was the first European monarch to marry for love rather than purely political reasons.
- 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.
- King Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine...at least until Eleanor and their sons rebelled against Henry.
- Roman Emperor Augustus and his third wife, Livia. After his death, she and her son Tiberius, Augustus' successor, shared power for a few years.
- Emperor Claudius, Livia's grandson, had this sort of relationship with his third wife, Messalina, and his fourth wife, Agrippina. It didn't end well.
- In a minor case, Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton during Bill's presidency. Bill advertised the fact that the couple will be working together during the presidency as a "two-for-the-price-of-one" deal and Hillary as first lady publicly involved herself in policy decisions in a manner that was never seen before or since (other first ladies, if they get involved in policy, tends to stick to more bipartisan subjects like healthy eating).