Letsie III, King of LesothoDynasty: House of Moshesh Born: 1963 Reign: 1990 — 1995, 1996 —
His kingdom is a constitutional monarchy. Was originally made king in 1990, but abdicated in 1995 to return power to his deposed father. However, tragedy struck in 1996 when his father was killed in a car accident, and Letsie was once again crowned.
Mohammed VI , King of MoroccoDynasty: House of Ali (Alaouite Dynasty) Born: 1963 Reign: 1999 —
Became king in 1999, and has spent his time trying to modernize his nation. Attempts to reform the law to give women more freedom have ignited the anger of Islamic Fundamentalists. He also spent his early reign atoning for his (still well-liked) father's heavy-handed and at times brutal rule. The Arab Spring did hit Morocco, but not particularly hard; however, it induced him to initiate constitutional changes that seriously limit the monarch's powers, and has estimated that by the time his son (Moulay Hassannote ) becomes King, the monarch will be a constitutional figurehead.
Mswati III , King of SwazilandDynasty: House of Diamini Born: 1968 Reign: 1986 —
Though an absolute monarch with the power to appoint the government, he cannot appoint his own heir. Is something of an odd duck due to his indulging in polygamy (with currently fourteen wives) and also attempted to curb the AIDS epidemic by enacting a five year ban on all sex in the Kingdom amongst women under eighteen years of age ... which he then violated by marrying a 17 year old.
Arab WorldYou'll see that these mostly have 'Al Something' in their name. That is the name of the house: Āl is Arabic for 'House' or 'Clan', and is different from Al- (an affix, not an independent word, that means 'the').
Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, King of BahrainDynasty: House of Khalifa Born: 1950 Reign: 1999 — 2002 (as Emir), 2002 — (as King)
Previously a Sheikdom, Hamad proclaimed Bahrain as a kingdom in 2002. Since he is a Sunni Muslim, he gives them more power and benefits, to the detriment of the majority Shia of the country; this in turn has contributed to the unrest of the country during the protests in the Arab World. Curiously, most don’t have a problem with him being in the power; the problem is with the rest of his government.
Abdullah II, King of JordanDynasty: House of Hashim Born: 1962 Reign: 1999 —
Son of King Hussein and his English second wife. Retains significant power in his native country, but the monarchy is constitutional and he shares some power with Parliament, but like Mohammed VI of Morocco, he expects to be the last monarch with real power. An avowed nerd, he once guest-starred in Star Trek: Voyager.
Sabah IV Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Emir of KuwaitDynasty: House of Sabah Born: 1929 Reign: 2006 —
Proof of the fact that, smaller the country, bigger the power the monarch has. Sabah IV has full power to appoint and dismiss anyone on his government and is immune and inviolable regarding the law. He enjoys frequent trips to Oman, where he owns an island. He also is an advocate for women’s rights, an oddity in the Middle East.
Qaboos bin Said Al Said, Sultan of OmanDynasty: House of Said Born: 1940 Reign: 1970 —
He assumed power when he headed a coup d’etat against his father, who had him under house arrest - his reign has considerable development in the sultanate. A classical music fan.
Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Emir of QatarDynasty: House of Thani Born: 1980 Reign: 2013 —
He too took the crown after his father abdicated in favour of him in 2013.
Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, King of Saudi ArabiaDynasty: House of Saud Born: 1935 Reign: 2015 —
Son of Abdulaziz, who created the modern Arabian state in 1902, King Salman is the sixth of his 65 children to rule the largest Arab monarchy in the world today. Unlike most other examples on this list, most of which are constitutional monarchies where the monarch has limited effective power, Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy, and Salman has tremendous rein over the government.
- In addition, the crown of Saudi Arabia is an Elective Monarchy that, until 2015, followed agnatic seniority as a general guideline. As a result, the heir-presumptive was the eldest surviving brother of the King, and was usually made heir apparent (Crown Prince) by a vote of the Allegiance Council — a group of the thirty or so most senior princes of the House. However, in 2015, Muqrin bin Abdul Aziz, then aged 69, was removed as Crown Prince. His replacement was the first grandson of Abdulaziz to become Crown Prince—Muhammad bin Nayef, at the time aged 55 (and more than 20 years younger than the then-oldest surviving grandson).
Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum of the United Arab EmiratesBorn: 1948, 1949
A very atypical monarchy. The UAE are a union of emirates, each ruled by a different emir, joined in a federation recognized worldwide as one state. The job of President of UAE goes to the Emir of Abu Dhabi (Khalifa) and the job of Prime Minister goes to the Emir of Dubai (Mohammed). Khalifa is known for his philanthropy while Mohammed is a fanatic of thoroughbred horse racing.
Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, King of BhutanDynasty: House of Wangchuck Born: 1980 Reign: 2006 —
Known in his country as the Druk Gyalpo (Dragon King) of Bhutan, he assumed the throne in 2006 when his father Jigme Singye Wangchuck abdicated in his favour as part of a managed transition to democracy. He has dedicated mainly to promote Buddhism outside his country. He also seems to be Mr. Fanservice, which became apparent when he assisted the crowning of Rama IX and ended up attracting hordes of female fans (he was nicknamed 'Prince Charming' by the media).
Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah, Sultan of BruneiDynasty: House of Bolkiah Born: 1946 Reign: 1967 —
Currently the 29th Sultan of Brunei who has been ruling for over 45 years. Is well loved by his subjects for sharing the country's wealth from Oil and Gas to help the people's welfare. The Sultan is Sandhurst graduate and has a large car collection. Also his late father and Queen Elizabeth II were good friends.
Norodom Sihamoni, King of CambodiaDynasty: House of Norodom Born: 1953 Reign: 2004 —
An accomplished dance instructor and ambassador to UNESCO and owner of a Bald of Awesome. He actually has no power, other than being a symbolic figurehead. Became king in 2004 when his father abdicated. He has no children, but that’s not a problem because the King is chosen by a council, even if an heir existed. Cambodia is a really odd country in that it's a constitutional monarchy in the complete sense, ie the king does nothing, but the Prime Minister (the ex-communist Hun Sen) runs a fairly repressive regime. The only other places in modern history where this arrangement lasted any significant amount of time are Fascist Italy, Imperial Japan, and a few stints of dictatorship in Thailand. (Other constitutional monarchies have been authoritarian regimes, of course, but the king tends to have power and not be a mere figurehead.)
Abdul Halim, King of MalaysiaBorn: 1927 Reign: 2011 —
Actually, his title is Yang di-Pertuan Agong, meaning 'He who is made Lord'. Full name Almu'tasimu Billahi Muhibbuddin Tuanku Alhaj Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah Ibni Almarhum Sultan Badlishah. The Malaysian monarchy is unique because the king is elected by the Conference of Rulers consisting of the nine hereditary rulers of the Malay states and is rotated on a five-year period basis. Mostly ceremonial.
Rama IX (Bhumibol Adulyadej), King of ThailandDynasty: House of Chakri Born: 1927 Reign: 1946 —
Longest reigning head of state in the world today. Much beloved anyway but also subject of a cult of personality that all but deifies him. His great-great-great-grandfather, Rama IV (Mongkut) was the subject of the musical and film The King and I. Hilarity ensued in 2007 when a flap broke out between the Thai government and YouTube over the latter's hosting a video mocking the king, an act which is illegal in Thailand. After YouTube removed the video, international visitors cried censorship, and published hundreds of similar videos. Rama himself is a Cool Old Guy who plays jazz saxophone, competes in yacht races, and is the world's only monarch to hold a patent (on a waste water aerator and a variety of rainmaking techniques, in case you were wondering). The Thais are normally calm people, but just don't insult the royal family in front of a Thai, unless you want to receive an Ong Bak worthy hit to your vital regions all and sundry. Even in the recent and numerous coups d'etat in Thailand, the first act of the new ruling bloc has been to swear its loyalty to the king.
Akihito, Emperor of JapanBorn: 1933 Reign: 1989 —
Emperor of Japan since 1989, 125th in a line that according to tradition dates back to 660 BC. A marine biologist.
Joan Enric Vives Sicília and François Hollande, Co-Princes of AndorraBorn: 1949, 1954 Reign: 2003 — , 2012 —
A very atypical monarchy. Thanks to Andorra's strange ancient constitution, the country is co-ruled by two monarchs referred to as Princes. Each of the Princes are actually from the foreign nations of France and Spain; one is the Bishop of Urgell in Spain and the other is the President of France (originally the Count of Foix, a title which later became contiguous with the French monarchy and later the presidency). Both Princes have very few powers constitutionally.
Phillipe, King of BelgiumDynasty: House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (or Belgium) Born: 1960 Reign: 2013 —
The proper title is King of the Belgians, making him the only popular monarch left in the world. Philippe took over after his father Albert II abdicated in July 2013 (making him the fourth monarch to do so that year after those of the Netherlands, Vatican City and Qatar). There's a lack of clarity about the name of the royal house, since they changed it in World War I for more or less the same reasons as their British cousins the Windsors, but they haven't objected terribly about using the old name since then. The current King is also a first cousin of Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg and a first cousin once removed of King Harald V of Norway.
Margrethe II, Queen of DenmarkDynasty: House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg (or just 'Glücksburg') Born: 1940 Reign: 1972 —
An accomplished artist who actually illustrated the Danish edition of The Lord of the Rings. As she is also a competent translator, some people claim she helped translate it as well. Also a chain smoker, which formed part of a scene in Borgen. Only Denmark's second female monarch; the first was Margrethe I, who reigned as Queen of Denmark, Norway and Sweden from 1389-1412 (the first two from 1387), founding the Kalmar Union. Denmark had been male inheritance only until 1953 when the constitution was changed after it was realised her father, Frederik IX, would not have a male heir . It is now absolute primogeniture; her heir apparent is Crown Prince Frederick (Danish monarchs traditionally alternate between Christian and Frederik, with Margrethe deciding she would be a 'Christian')... whose wife Crown Princess Mary is the first Australian royal anywhere.
Hans-Adam II, Prince of LiechtensteinDynasty: House of Liechtensteinnote Born: 1945 Reign: 1989 —
One of the wealthiest heads of state with a personal worth of over £2 billion. Once threatened to leave with the Royal Family to Austria if a Constitutional shake-up was not agreed upon. Arguably one of the most powerful monarchs in Europe, in terms of practical political power; unlike most European monarchs, he actually does have an effect over the government. His people love him, and several referenda to reduce the power of the Monarchy have been resoundingly defeated.
Henri, Grand Duke of LuxembourgDynasty: House of Bourbon-Parma Born: 1955 Reign: 2000 —
Being a constitutional monarch, he has very little power, but he does have a (rarely-used) veto power that he tried to use to stop a euthanasia/assisted suicide bill passed in 2008.
Albert II, Prince of MonacoDynasty: House of Grimaldi Born: 1958 Reign: 2005 —
A longtime bachelor with at least two confirmed children (by different women) born out of wedlock, he finally got engaged to and eventually married the former Charlene Wittstock, a former South African Olympic swimmer 20 years his junior. In December 2014, Charlene gave birth to twins, a girl and a boy; since Monaco still uses male-preference primogeniture, the younger Jacques is now heir apparent (titled "Hereditary Prince"). Another noted marine conservationist. Also son of Grace Kelly.
Willem-Alexander, King of the NetherlandsDynasty: House of Orange Born: 1967 Reign: 2013 —
Ascended the throne upon the abdication of his mother on April 30, 2013. The first reigning King of the Netherlands since 1890, his predecessors (Queens Wilhelmina, Juliana and Beatrix) all having been queens regnant. A sports fan and water conservationist.
Harald V, King of NorwayDynasty: House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg Born: 1937 Reign: 1991 —
The first Norwegian king in recent times to actually be born in Norway. Norway also adopted an Absolute Primogeniture at about the same time as Sweden, but let the then-Crown Prince keep his role rather than switching it to his older sister.
Felipe VI, King of SpainDynasty: House of Bourbon Born: 1968 Reign: 2014 —
Full name Felipe Juan Pablo Alfonso de Todos los Santos de Borbón y Grecia, second King of Spain since the restoration of the monarchy in 1975. Ascended the throne in 2014 after the abdication of his father, Juan Carlos I.
Carl XVI Gustaf, King of SwedenDynasty: House of Bernadotte Born: 1946 Reign: 1973 —
The only references to the monarchy of Sweden in English that most are aware of are the song "Minnie the Moocher" and Casey and Andy, in which the man himself was a freeloader who did nothing but sit on the couch all day. The Swedish monarchy was the first to adopt 'Equal' or 'Absolute Primogeniture' in 1980, meaning that the eldest child inherits the throne regardless of their gender. This meant that then-Crown Prince Carl Philip, at the time 7 months old, was stripped of his status in favour of his older sister Victoria. Crown Princess Victoria was the only direct female heir apparent of a throne in the world for 33 years (1980-2013, when the accession of Willem-Alexander in the Netherlands left his oldest daughter Catharina-Amalia heir apparent to the Dutch throne).
Francis, Pope of the Vatican CityBorn: 1936 Reign: 2013 —
Elected monarch of the Vatican City and, by extention, of the Catholic Churchnote . While the papacy is not a typical monarchy, the Pope is nonetheless a major player in world politics and a spiritual leader for the over 1 billion Roman Catholics worldwide. Pope Francis is the 266th Pope and the first from the Americas. See The Pope.
Tupou VI, King of TongaDynasty: House of Tupou Born: 1959 Reign: 2012 —
King of Tonga, an island chain in Polynesia. Recently ascended the throne on the death of his elder brother, George Tupou V. Additionally, HM The Queen serves as Paramount Chief of the Republic of Fiji. Whether this title will remain tied to the British crown is unclear.
Historical (dead) monarchs and royals:Note — the flags used here are the flags that were used at the time of the monarchs' reigns, not the current ones, which may be vastly different.
Wilhelm II, (last) Kaiser of GermanyDynasty: House of Hohenzollern Lived: 1859 — 1941 Reigned: 1888 — 1918
His role in the First World War naturally made him a hate figure among the Allies. He had a withered left arm and wasn't a Nazi. Seriously. Every time people make that mistake, one of us history nerds gets boils from the raw stupid. Also, he had an awesome hat. Also, he was the oldest grandchild of Queen Victoria.
- His full title was (brace yourself): His Imperial and Royal Majesty William the Second, by the Grace of God, German Emperor and King of Prussia, Margrave of Brandenburg, Burgrave of Nuremberg, Count of Hohenzollern, Duke of Silesia and of the County of Glatz, Grand Duke of the Lower Rhine and of Posen, Duke in Saxony, of Angria, of Westphalia, of Pomerania and of Lunenburg, Duke of Schleswig, of Holstein and of Crossen, Duke of Magdeburg, of Bremen, of Guelderland and of Jülich, Cleves and Berg, Duke of the Wends and the Kashubians, of Lauenburg and of Mecklenburg, Landgrave of Hesse and in Thuringia, Margrave of Upper and Lower Lusatia, Prince of Orange, of Rugen, of East Friesland, of Paderborn and of Pyrmont, Prince of Halberstadt, of Münster, of Minden, of Osnabrück, of Hildesheim, of Verden, of Kammin, of Fulda, of Nassau and of Moers, Princely Count of Henneberg, Count of the Mark, of Ravensberg, of Hohenstein, of Tecklenburg and of Lingen, Count of Mansfeld, of Sigmaringen and of Veringen, Lord of Frankfurt.
- Let's be thankful for this one. There are at least three places he was ruler of which are not mentioned there, and there were probably more, so it could have been even worse. Still cant help but wonder if he remembered it himself.
Nicholas II, Tsar of RussiaDynasty: House of Romanov Lived: 1868 — 1918 Reigned: 1894 — 1917
Last Tsar of Russia before the February Revolution and generally portrayed (today, anyway) as a nice but hopeless chap who was caught up in events too big for him to handle. Currently an Orthodox Saint (specifically "Passion Bearer" in the Orthodox Church), along with his wife Alexandra and their five children.
- His full title happened to be: Emperor and Autocrat of all the Russias, of Moscow, Kiev, Vladimir, Novgorod, Tsar of Kazan, Tsar of Astrakhan, King of Poland, Tsar of Siberia, Tsar of Tauric Chersonesos, Tsar of Georgia, Lord of Pskov, and Grand Duke of Smolensk, Lithuania, Volhynia, Podolia, and Finland, Prince of Estonia, Livonia, Courland and Semigalia, Samogitia, Belostok, Karelia, of Tver, Yugra, Perm, Vyatka, Bulgaria, and other territories; Lord and Grand Duke of Nizhny Novgorod, Chernigov; Sovereign of Ryazan, Polotsk, Rostov, Yaroslavl, Beloozero, Udoria, Obdoria, Kondia, Vitebsk, Mstislav, and all the northern territories; and Sovereign of Iveria, Kartalinia, and the Kabardinian lands and Armenian territories; Hereditary Lord and Ruler of the Cherkass and Mountain Princes and others; Lord of Turkestan, Heir of Norway, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein, Stormarn, Dithmarschen, Oldenburg, and so forth, and so forth, and so forth.
- Also happened to be the wealthiest saint in record, the estimated third wealthiest calculable historical figure ever (behind two great early American capitalists), and the wealthiest Russian Tsar. In a country where the majority of the population was illiterate and existed in effective serfdom, these may have been some of the grievances that ultimately got him removed and executed.
- Grand Duchess Anastasia (Romanova): The youngest of Nicholas' four daughtersnote , hence her common moniker "The Last Grand Duchess". When she wasn't found among the executed Romanovs, many thought she was alive and a number of movies have been made about her. As it turns out, she was among the executed Romanovs. Ah well.
- People thought she was alive decades before the Romanov burial site was found. The first whispers were as early as 1919. If anything, the "Anastasia lives" trope was far stronger and far more widely believed in the West before the tomb was found than afterwards. (If it matters, it's now thought that Anastasia actually was one of those recovered from the grave; the remains found later on were probably her sister Marie's.)
Aka the other Kaiser, he was among Europe's longest reigning monarchs, outliving his contemporary, Queen Victoria. Also known for having endured a horrific stream of personal (and ultimately nationwide) disasters with nigh impregnable stride.
- Emperor Karl (or Karl IV in Hungary): Franz Joseph's successor and the last Habsburg monarch. Made attempts at brokering peace while trying to keep his crumbling empire together. Made two (failed) efforts at restoring the throne in Hungary in the 1920s. He would die exiled in Madeira, although his son/heir Otto (noted for holding a seat in the European Parliament from Germany and being an advocate for European integration) would live on until 2011.
Leopold II, King of BelgiumDynasty: House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha Lived: 1835 — 1909 Reigned: 1865 — 1909
Pretty nasty king, mainly remembered for the whole Congo Free State scandal, where he ran the place like his own personal fiefdomnote , forcing the inhabitants to produce high volumes of rubber or face mutilation. Eventually a propaganda war forced him to pass the territory to the monarchy.
Pedro II, Emperor of BrazilDynasty: House of Braganza Lived: 1825 — 1891 Reigned: 1831 — 1889
Second and last Emperor of Brazil. Highly loved and respected, not only by his own people, but also internationally, as a humble and hard-working man completely dedicated to the growth of his country (including the abolition of slavery, a controversial move at the time in Brazil). Under that public façade, however, there was a very sad man who never wanted the crown and resented the fact that he couldn’t have a simple life. He was deposed by a handful of hardline military leaders with no popular support; Pedro was so tired of the crown that refused to offer resistance, much to the disappointment of his people, and went to exile on his own volition.
Ferdinand VII, King of SpainDynasty: House of Bourbon Lived: 1784 — 1833 Reigned: 1808, 1813 — 1833
A very polarizing king in his homenote (though not the worse of the lot, arguably). He not only disputed the crown with Napoleon’s brother during almost all his reign, but also lost almost all its colonies in America.
Manuel II, King of PortugalDynasty: House of Braganza Lived: 1889 — 1932 Reigned: 1908 — 1910
Last King of Portugal. Unfit and unprepared to be the king, he was elevated to the throne after the assassination of his father, King Charles I, and his brother, Prince Luís Filipe, who was the heir to the throne up to that point, in the 1908 Lisbon Regicide. Overthrown by the 5 October 1910 revolution, which implemented the Portuguese First Republic. Was great-great-great-great-grandson of Maria II, who was herself the sister of Dom Pedro II of Brazil.
Haile Selassie I, Emperor of EthiopiaDynasty: House of Solomon Lived: 1892 — 1975 Reigned: 1930 — 1974
Last Emperor of Ethiopia. Yes, the house name refers to that Solomon; tradition holds that the royal family of Ethiopia were descended from King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Haile Selassie is known for being a good ruler, reigning for 44 years until a Communist military coup overthrew him, and also for being revered as Messianic Archetype and God incarnate by the Rastafarians. While Haile never embraced this worship, he never tried to make them stop either; his feeling was that he knew he wasn't God, but if somebody else thought he was it was harmless.
Charles II, King of SpainDynasty: House of Habsburg Lived: 1661 — 1700 Reigned: 1665 — 1700
Royally Screwed Up last Habsburg monarch of Spain. Famous for being extremely inbred, owing to the fact that most of his ancestors were uncles and nieces and other closely related persons marrying one another. He was so physically deformed as a result that he couldn't chew properly and was unable to produce any offspring. He himself believed that his physical problems were a result of a witch's curse. His early death in 1700, aged just 38, triggering a war of succession.
Son of Maria Theresa of Austria and brother to Marie Antoinette and one of the last monarchs of the Holy Roman Empire before it was dissolved in 1806 after Napoleon's rise in Europe. Famously commissioned operas and works from Mozart and appeared as a character in Amadeus. Well-known for being rather liberal in his day, and attempted to enlighten Austria with significant domestic reforms and also reduced censorship significantly. He died without any male children and was succeeded by his brother, Leopold II.
Louis XVI, King of FranceDynasty: House of Bourbon Lived: 1754 — 1793 Reigned: 1774 — 1792
Married to Marie Antoinette, sister of the above Joseph II. He provided important aid to the American colonists during The American Revolution, sending money, supplies and troops to support the rebels, although this hastened France's eventual bankruptcy and he was unable to fix the failing finances left by his grandfather Louis XV. Unrest erupted throughout the country, resulting in The French Revolution. He was eventually executed by guillotine by French republicans for his alleged crimes.