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Ruling Couple

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Catholic Monarchs Administering Justice (detail), Victor Manzano y Mejorada
Bob Dole: Bill, I thought perhaps it would be best if we could talk in private. It would be appreciated.
Hillary Rodham Clinton: This is private.
Dole: Now, I would hope that the leader of the opposition and the President could—
Clinton: I happen to be the Co-President of the United States.

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/queen.

A ruling couple, on the other hand, are equal or near equal partners, and may even be Happily Married. Rather than 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. This tends to happen on a somewhat rarer basis in The Republic, although the couple can still very much get away with this if they both are socially and politically strong and savvy and able to complement each other as individuals.

On many occasions, they will also be a Battle Couple.

See also Siblings Share the Throne.



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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Red River (1995), 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, the King of Astoria.
  • Record of Grancrest War ends with the protagonists becoming one. Theo holds the Grancrest and handles most social matters, Siluca advises him on politics and aristocratic etiquette. Both of them know they wouldn't have gotten anywhere near where they are without each other's help. note 

  • 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.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • While such a relationship is hinted at elsewhere in Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman: Generations Queen Hippolyta and Captain Philippus's relationship is made explicit, where Philippus is the captain of the guard and in charge of Themyscira's military while Hippolyta is the queen and trusts Philippus to look after Themyscira when she goes to help Diana.
    • Wonder Woman (Rebirth): The flashback child Diana stories show that Philippus and Hippolyta's relationship is official, and as Queen and Captain of the Guard they are the two most powerful women among the Amazons.

    Fan Works 

    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; 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 birthright, 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.
  • A rare twist in The Book of Life. Xibalba and La Muerte are rulers, but each governs different worlds.
  • In How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, Hiccup and Astrid become one when they get married as Hiccup is the Chief of Berk, and are explicitly hailed as Chief and Chieftess at the end of the wedding.

    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).
  • 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.
  • In The Belgariad:
    • Drasnia's King Rhodar and Queen Porrenn divide their duties: one handles internal affairs, while the other is in charge of external ones.
    • The Kings and Queens of Arendia are political equals, each representing one of the two duchies that comprise the kingdom. In the Malloreon, this proves instrumental in resolving the ancient civil war between the duchies, simply by sorting out which proclamations are made under their ducal authority and which are royal.
    • Invoked by Belgarion of Riva when he claims his royal title. Ancient treaty requires him to marry the Tolnedran princess Ce'Nedra, to Ce'Nedra's absolute disgust at being reduced to a political pawn. When he accepts her proposal, he publicly declares that they will rule jointly with equal authority, a gesture of respect that lays the foundation for a more genuine relationship and happy marriage.
  • 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.
  • 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 who 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 military leader), who are commonly a married couple. Which of them 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, female Wise Ones are the spiritual leaders, and female Roofmistresses control all the land (including settlements), so it's not uncommon for this trope to ensue. Chief Rhuarc, Amys the Wise One, and Lian the Roofmistress are jointly married in a ruling throuple.
    • 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 independently 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 have been 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 Book of the Fallen: Starting in the ninth book, Dust of Dreams, the recently crowned King Tehol Beddict and his newlywed wife and previous professor Queen Janath Anar are seen jointly ruling the Kingdom of Lether. Janath also happens to be the kingdom's historian and Tehol never fails to ask her opinion on everything.
  • 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 judgment. 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.note 
  • In Iron Gold, Virginia "Mustang" au Augustus and her husband Darrow are a unique case. While she's the only one ruling the Solar Republic, Darrow is the one in command of their military.
  • Star Wars Legends: Jagged Fel and his wife Jaina Solo-Fel, as the first Emperor and Empress of the Fel Empire.
  • In the Tales of the Otori sequel The Harsh Cry of the Heron, the antagonistic General Saga offers an Altar Diplomacy marriage proposal to Lord Takeo Otori's daughter Shigeku, which she counters with the condition that she would remain co-ruler of her father's lands. He accepts, probably not least because she's an Action Girl who once shot out his eye from across a battlefield and forced his forces to retreat, so he does not want her as an enemy.
  • Deliberately averted by Tsar Alexei II in the Alternate History novel Triumph of a Tsar. One of the things he realizes as he takes the throne is that his father Nicholas II's reliance on his wife Alexandra's counsel (and by extension Rasputin's) to the exclusion of anyone else did immense damage to the country, particularly as Alexandra was... not all that competent as a ruler. As a result, while he confides everything, including matters of state, to his own wife Tsarina Ileana and respects her opinions and advice tremendously, hers is not the only voice guiding his decisions; he chooses competent ministers and listens closely to their counsel as well before making final decisions as a ruler.
  • Indicated to be the case for the realm at the end of the Chronicles of Prydain. Taran, the protagonist, is declared High King of Prydain, and his first act is to marry Princess Eilonwy (whom he has loved for years) and make her his queen. She assures him that anytime he's not sure what to do, he can always listen to her, and the ending narration makes it clear that they do in fact rule together.

    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 on two equally prominent thrones. Renly even incorporates the Tyrell colors 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, at least until her death.
    • House of the Dragon: Rhaenyra Targaryen proposes to Daemon not only because she's crazy about him but also because she wants to rule together.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Disa reassures Durin that no matter what his father says or does, he will be the next in line and not his brother, and they will both inherit and rule Khazad-dum together as king and queen.
  • The White Queen: King Richard III and Queen Anne; she's his The Consigliere even before they're crowned. Their joint coronation, the first for English royalty in 176 years, is emblematic of their powerful union, and their victorious Meaningful Look during the ceremony exudes their pride at accomplishing this goal. While there are noblemen who help Richard run his kingdom, he confers with Anne on political matters more often than with his highest-ranked courtiers, and he's also more likely to heed her counsel. Relatively speaking, Richard treats Anne more like his equal than the lords who serve him (and the Duke of Buckingham even complains to Lord Stanley that they're only expected to obey Richard, who doesn't welcome their contributions).

    Religion & Mythology 
  • In Classical Mythology, Hades and Persephone are generally depicted as sharing equal power as King and Queen of the Underworld.
  • In Norse Mythology, Frigg and Odin rule Asgard together. Notably, Frigg is frequently conflated with Freya, who divides up the honored dead between herself and Odin in their realms of Folkvangr and Valhalla.

    Tabletop Games 
  • 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 the 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.
  • Battletech: The marriage of Hanse Davion and Melissa Steiner. With Hanse being the First Prince of the Federated Suns and Melissa the Archon of the Lyran Commonwealth, the two realms entered what was in practice a personal union during their lifetime with both in charge over it. Due to their personal charisma, this union kept together even after Hanse's death until their son Victor came of age, with Melissa ruling for a short time as regent of the Federated Suns with little issue.

    Video Games 
  • Graham and Valanice of King's Quest. It's implied that Alexander and Cassima will be this as well.
  • Dragon Age:
    • Dragon Age: Origins has three options:
      • The first is between the widowed Queen Anora and her brother-in-law Alistair, though both have to be persuaded to agree to such a marriage and the latter has to be hardened to fully embrace becoming king.
      • The next is for a Female Human Noble Warden, who can marry Alistair and become his Hot Consort. It's lampshaded in the second game that she is clearly the one wearing the trousers in the relationship, with the people of Ferelden absolutely adoring her and the other countries becoming 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 officially become 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 hardened and married to Queen Anora.
      • Lastly, a male Human Noble can marry Anora. He won't become king, because Anora's not the type to share power if she can get away with it; however, her new husband is the one who commands all of the Grey Wardens in Ferelden and has a terrifying reputation throughout the continent, so they're on roughly equal footing even if he's only a Prince-Consort.
    • Dragon Age II can potentially lead to this for Sebastian, Prince of Starkhaven, and female Hawke. In particular, if she ends the game by (temporarily) becoming Viscountess of Kirkwall, he remarks that their union could be the mightiest in the entire Free Marches.
  • All over the place in Fire Emblem:
    • In Fire Emblem Gaiden and its remake, Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia, Alm and Celica become the Emperor of Rigel and the Queen of Zofia, respectively. Then, they marry and unite their lands, creating the Kingdom of Valentia and reigning together.
    • In Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade, 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 marries 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, Corrin is crowned as the King or Queen of the reborn Kingdom of Valla. If Corrin is married, his/her consort are specifically said to double as the new sovereign's Number Two and, in Azura's case, advisor.
    • Fire Emblem: Three Houses: At the end of the Azure Moon route, Dimitri is crowned King of Faerghus and Byleth becomes archbishop of the Church of Seiros. If Byleth is female and has achieved S-support with Dimitri, they get married, thus becoming a literal union of church and state.
  • 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 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.
  • In Crusader Kings, your spouse (or first wife if your religion practices polygyny) adds half their stats to your character's, implying that they are using their abilities and skills to aid your rule. For feudal characters, having spouses with high Diplomacy or Stewardship can be vital to keeping your realm together. However, due to the game's mechanics (you can only control one character at a time), it's impossible for two characters to be exact equals. Even if you marry your character to another ruler, the two realms do not enter into a personal union until a single character inherits both your titles (or, if you marry another of your vassals, you're not given direct control of that vassal's territory).
  • Kingdom Hearts: King Mickey and Queen Minnie are the Happily Married rulers of Disney Castle, and interacts with characters implies an equivalent power dynamic between them. Within the series, though, Mickey primarily serves as a Royal Who Actually Does Something, traveling the multiverse fighting bad guys, while the more administrative aspects are done by Minnie. (This makes sense since this franchise uses Mickey Donald Goofy: The Three Musketeers as backstory, making Minnie the one with Royal Blood.)
  • In Jade Empire, the player character will become this with Silk Fox in the end if they romance her.

    Web Original 
  • In Empires SMP Season 1, there's King Joel of Mezalea and Queen Lizzie of the Ocean Empire, in a rare, twisted form of the trope. While Joey refers to their marriage in-universe as "the union between two empires" while officiating it, both monarchs ruled their respective lands in their own rights from before marriage, and continue to do so afterward.


    Western Animation 
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has Cadance and Shining Armor, who rule the Crystal Empire.
  • Queen Moon and King River, the parents of the titular character of Star vs. the Forces of Evil, have shades of this. They are almost always shown together when it comes to making decisions about Mewni and both are treated as if they were the reigning monarch. Downplayed a bit later, as it is established that Moon is the actual ruler, having inherited the throne from her own mother, and appears to have more duties than River, as fitting for their matriarchal kingdom.

    Real Life 
  • 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. Another important point is that neither of the Spartan kings had any direct authority over domestic affairs; their only role was as a war leader and ceremonial religious figure (both of which were of course a huge deal in warlike and deeply religious Sparta); their only domestic political authority came from their ex officio positions in the gerousia (the Spartan Senate or Council of Elders). Actual lawmaking power was vested in the ephors (more-or-less elective magistrates),note  the popular assembly,note  and the gerousia. However, for complicated reasons Spartan women were often so rich they could buy votes in the assembly and gerousia (to say nothing of being able to bribe ephors), meaning that if a Spartan king married the right heiress he and his wife could have absolute control over the state's domestic and foreign affairs.
  • Augustus and his third wife, Livia, from the Roman Empire. 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... They didn't end well.
  • Hattusili III and his wife Puduhepa from the Hittite Empire. They ruled together, with Hattusili in charge of the military while Puduhepa handled the diplomatic issues.
  • Justinian and his wife Theodora co-led the Roman Empire. This had some interesting effects (particularly given their religious disagreements, by which standard she was technically a heretic...), but his regime only survived the Nika revolt by virtue of her fortitude, so... all is forgiven, we guess? As well, during the Black Death, an outbreak of plague in 542 CE, Justinian fell into a coma and Theodora firmly controlled the empire during her husband´s incapacity.
  • In general, queens in Medieval Europe, even if they were officially just a consort, 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). And if the queen herself is the one holding the title, her husband (rarely called the "king" if he wasn't the one in charge) served similar roles.
  • Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine... at least until she and their sons rebelled against Henry.
  • Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain (you know, the ones from 1492, Columbus sailing the ocean blue, turning on the Emir of Grenada because God told them to, those guys). Isabella was an effective 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 of Castile, 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. The issue became moot when Philip died unexpectedly in 1506, and then Joanna's depression and mental illness popped up, and the whole thing ended rather badly.
  • During the Tang Dynasty, Tang Gaozong and his second empress, Wu Zetian, ruler together power during his reign. She specially exercised great power in the later half when he was marred by ill health. While traditional Chinese historians had rated Tang Gaozang weak and ineffectual, modern evaluations of his and Wu Zetian's reigns were more positive, with many attributing the couple as setting foundations for the prosperity of their grandson Xuanzong's early reign.
  • 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 ruler).
  • This was the case when Mary I of England, the country's first official queen regnant, decided to marry Prince Philip of Spain. At the time, law dictated that a man was entitled to possession of his wife's titles and property (known as the concept of jure uxoris). Philip was next in line to inherit the Spanish throne, and the English were worried the marriage would turn the country into a satellite of Spain. Parliament passed the Queen Mary's Marriage Act, essentially a prenup and business contract between England and Spain, to regulate the marriage, which stipulated that Philip would be titled as king and serve as Mary's co-monarch and govern England with her, but placed some limitations on his power and stipulated he would have no right to succeed her as sole monarch if he outlived her. Mary predeceased him, ending his jure uxoris claim as king, and the crown passed to Mary's half-sister Elizabeth I.
  • William III and Mary II reigned as co-monarchs over England, Scotland, and Ireland as a compromise - Mary had the better claim as the oldest eligible child of James II, but William was also her cousin and next line for the throne after Mary and her sister Anne, 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. Also, the pair had kind of shown up at the head of a (mostly) Dutch army, and while they (mostly) didn’t need to use that army, everyone knew where their power to execute their coup came from. (Hint: It was the Dutch guy.) Mary herself also refused to reign as sole sovereign, because she felt it would be unfair to her husband.
  • Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Victoria and Albert had nine children, so needless to say, Victoria spent a lot of time pregnant (and, therefore, unable to attend to many matters of state); Albert often performed Victoria's royal duties when she was otherwise occupied with 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. While officially they were not equals, Victoria disagreed with this and wanted to title him as "king consort", but Parliament would not allow it as Albert was a foreigner and the title of king is reserved for monarchs.note  It also was arguably the case that Victoria was the first European monarch to marry for love rather than purely political reasons. Tragically, this came to an end when he died at the age of just 42, forcing Victoria to live out half of her life without both her most trusted advisor and the love of her life.
  • Nicholas II and Alexandra Feodorovna from the Russian Empire, at least after World War I broke out. After he took personal command of the army and went to the front, she 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, we should give him at least some credit), Alexandra in everything in general.
  • After Woodrow Wilson suffered a stroke, First Lady Edith Wilson became a presidential "shadow steward", vetting what matters of state were important enough to bother him with. Such was her influence, it has been argued that she became the de facto co-president or even acting president.
  • 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 never seen before or since (other first ladies, if they get involved in policy, tend to stick to more nonpartisan subjects like healthy eating). This was not universally viewed positively; see the page quote for a case of it being parodied for comedic purposes.