Longest reigns



The following is a survey of the longest reigns among the reigning monarchs. After the Kingdom of Nepal was abolished on 28 May 2008 and after the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, a religious monarchy, ceased to exist in the fall of 2001, there are today 44 monarchies in the world. Queen Elizabeth II is head of state of 16 of them. If the monarch in question has reigned in several (different) periods, only the last reign will count.

No. Country Name Succeeded Heir
1 Thailand HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej, 9th Rama, b. 5 Dec 1927 9 Jun 1946, upon the murder of his brother King Ananda HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, b. 28 Jul 19521
2 United Kingdom2 HM Queen Elizabeth II, b. 21 Apr 1926 6 Feb 1952, upon the death of her father, King George VI HRH The Prince of Wales (Prince Charles), b. 14 Nov 1948
3 Brunei Darussalam HM Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah, b. 15 Jul 1946 5 Oct 1967, upon the abdication of his father, Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar Ali Saifuddien Sa'adul Khairi Waddien3 HRH Crown Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, b. 17 Feb 19744
4 Oman HM Sultan Qaboos Bin Said, b. 18 Nov 1940 23 Jul 1970, when his father Sultan Said Bin Taimur was deposed None5
5 Denmark HM Queen Margrethe II, b. 16 Apr 1940 14 Jan 1972, upon the death of her father, King Frederik IX HRH Crown Prince Frederik, b. 26 May 1968
6 Sweden HM King Carl XVI Gustaf, b. 30 Apr 1946 15 Sep 1973, upon the death of his grandfather King Gustaf VI Adolf HRH Crown Princess Victoria, b. 14 July 1977
7 Spain HM King Juan Carlos, b. 5 Jan 1938 22 Nov 1975, upon proclamation following the death of General Francisco Franco, Chief of State6 HRH The Prince of Asturias (Felipe), b. 30 Jan 1968
8 Swaziland HM King Mswati III, b. 19 Apr 1968 25 Apr 1986, upon enthronement7 None
9 Japan HM Emperor Akihito, b. 23 Dec 1933 7 Jan 1989, upon the death of his father, Emperor Hirohito HIH Crown Prince Naruhito, 23 Feb 1960
10 Liechtenstein HSH Prince Hans-Adam, b. 14 Feb 1945 13 Nov 1989, upon the death of his father, Prince Franz Josef II HSH Hereditary Prince Alois, b. 11 Jun 1968
11 Norway HM King Harald V, b. 21 Feb 1937 17 Jan 1991, upon the death of his father King Olav V HRH Crown Prince Haakon, b. 20 Jul 1973
12 Lesotho HM King Letsie III, b. 17 Jul 1963 7 Feb 1996, upon reinstallation8 None (College of Chiefs nominates the new King)9
13 Jordan HM King Abdullah II, b. 30 Jan 1962 7 Feb 1999, upon the death of his father King Hussein HRH Prince Hussein Bin Abdullah, b. 28 June 1994 10
14 Bahrain HM Sheikh Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa, King of Bahrain, b. 28 Jan 195011 6 March 1999, upon the death of Sheikh Isa Bin Sulman Al Khalifa, Emir HH Shaikh Salman Bin Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa, Crown Prince, b. 21 Oct 1969
15 Morocco HM King Muhammad VI, b. 21 Aug 1963 23 Jul 1999,12 upon the death of his father, King Hassan II HRH Prince Moulay Hassan, b. 8 May 2003
16 Luxembourg HRH Grand Duke Henri, b. 16 Apr 1955 7 Oct 2000, upon the abdication of his father, Grand Duke Jean HRH Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume, b. 11 Nov 1981
17 Andorra13 HE Joan Enric Vives Sicilia, Co-Prince of Andorra, Bishop of Urgell, b. 24 July 1949 12 May 2003, upon the Pope's appointment as Bishop of Urgell14 None (future Bishop of Urgell)
18 Cambodia HM King Norodom Sihamoni, b. 14 May 1953 14 Oct 2004 upon election by the Throne Council, following the abdication of HM King Norodom Sihanouk on 6 Oct 2004 None15
19 United Arab Emirates16 HH Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahayan, President, Ruler of Abu Dhabi, b. 1948 3 Nov 2004, upon election by the Supreme Council of Rulers following the death of his father, HH Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahayan on 2 Nov 2004 HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Ruler of Dubai, b. 194917
20 Monaco HSH Prince Albert II, b. 14 March 1958 6 April 2005, upon the death of his father, Prince Rainier III HRH The Princess of Hannover (Princess Caroline), b. 23 Jan 1957.18
21 Saudi Arabia HM King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, b. 1923 1 Aug 2005, upon proclamation following the death of his half-brother King Fahd HRH Crown Prince Salman Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, b. 1935, appointed 18 June 2012 19
22 Kuwait HH Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Emir, b. 1931 (?) 29 January 2006, following election by the Parliament after HH Sheikh Saad Al-Abdullah Al-Salem Al-Sabah was relieved of his duties on 24 January 2006. 20 HH Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah 21
23 Bhutan HM Druk Gyalpo (King) Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuk, b. 21 Feb 1980 14 Dec 2006, 22 following the abdication of his father HM King Jigme Singye Wangchuk (king 1972–2006). H.R.H. Prince Jingyel Ugyen Wangchuk, b. 16 July 1984
24 Samoa HH O le Ao o le Malo (Head of State) Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese Efi, b. 1938 20 June 2007, 23 upon swearing in ceremony after election, 24 following the death of HH O le Ao o le Malo (Head of State) Malietoa Tanumafili II on 11 May 2007 None (to be elected)
25 Malaysia25 HM Yang di-Pertuan Agong (King/Head of state) Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah ibni Sultan Badlishah, the Sultan of Kedah, b. 28 November 1927 13 Dec 2011, upon election 26 HRH Timbalan Yang di-Pertuan Agong (Deputy King/Head of state) Muhammad V, Sultan of Kelantan, b. 6 October 196927
26 Tonga H.M. 'Aho'eitu 'Unuaki-'o-Tonga Tuku'aho Tupou VI, 28 b. 12 July 1959 18 March 2012, 29 upon the death of his brother HM King George Tupou V HRH Prince Siaosi Manumataongo, b. 17 September 1985
27 Andorra30 HE François Gérard Georges Nicolas Hollande, Co-Prince of Andorra, President of the French Republic, b. 12 Aug 1954 15 May 2012 (inauguration day), following election 6 May 2012 None (future President of the French Republic).
28 The Netherlands HM King Willem-Alexander, b. 27 April 1967 30 April 2013, upon the abdication31 of his mother, Queen Beatrix HRH The Princess of orange (Catharina-Amalia), b. 7 Dec 2003
29 Qatar HH Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, Emir, b. 3 July 1980 25 June 2013, upon the abdication of his father HH Sheikh Hamad Khalifa Al-Thani32 To be named.33
30 Belgium HM King Philippe II, b. 14 April 1960 21 July 2013,34 upon taking the oath following the abdication of his fater, King Albert II HRH Princess Elisabeth, Duchess of Brabant, b. 25 Oct 2001


Footnotes

  1. According to The Royal Family's official page (url http://www.thaimain.org/eng/monarchy/ now closed), «His Majesty the King conferred him with the title of «Somdech Phra Boroma Orasadhiraj Chao Fah Maha Vajiralongkorn Sayam Makutrajakuman» on December 28, 1972, making him the Crown Prince and heir to the throne.» His sister HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn was «conferred the title of «Somdech Phra Debaratana Rajasuda Chao Fah Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Rathasimakunakornpiyajat Sayam Boroma Rajakumari» by His Majesty the King on December 5, 1977.» According to Stevenson, William. The Revolutionary King. The True-Life Sequel to The King and I, London: Robinson, 1999, p. 197, the King named his 2nd daughter Sirindhorn Crown Princess in 1978 and «provided for the possibility of female succession to the throne». Section 22 of the Thai Constitution says only that «Subject to section 23, the succession to the Throne shall be in accordance with the Palace Law on Succession, B.E. 2467» and that «The Amendment of the Palace Law on Succession, B.E. 2467 shall be the prerogative of the King." But in Section 23 we are told that "In the case where the Throne becomes vacant and the King has not appointed His Heir under paragraph one, the Privy Council shall submit the name of the Successor to the Throne under section 22 to the Council of Ministers for further submission to the National Assembly for approval. For this purpose, the name of a Princess may be submitted. Upon the approval of the National Assembly, the President of the National Assembly shall invite such Successor to ascend the Throne and proclaim such Successor King.» The succession to the throne of Thailand seems somewhat confusing, although Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn is by most people still regarded as the heir apparent.
  2. The Queen of the United Kingdom is also Queen of the following Commonwealth countries: Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, St.Lucia, St.Vincent & the Grenadines, Antigua & Barbuda, Belize and St.Kitts and Nevis, i.e. 15 countries.
  3. Cf. The Brunei Government's Official Website (url http://www.brunei.gov.bn/government/index.htm now closed),
  4. Cf. The Brunei Government's Official Website (url http://www.crownprince.gov.bn/ not working at present), «10 August, 1998, corresponding to 17 Rabiulakhir, 1419 Hijriah in the Islamic Calendar was a historic event for Brunei Darussalam. The date marked the Royal Proclamation of His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah as the Crown Prince of Brunei Darussalam.»
  5. The Basic Statute of the State of Oman Article 5 states that «the system of government is 'Royal' and hereditary in the male descendants of Sayyid Turki bin Said bin Sultan (the great-great-grandfather of His Majesty) and that the successor to the throne shall be a Muslim, of sound mind, and the legitimate son of Omani Muslim parentage. The following article stipulates that the successor will be chosen by the Ruling Family Council within three days of the throne falling vacant. If the Ruling Family Council cannot agree on the choice of successor, the Defence Council shall confirm the appointment of the person designated by the Sultan in his letter to the Ruling Family Council.» (from the url http://www.omanet.com/his_majesty_sultan.htm now closed)
  6. At the time many regarded King Juan Carlos's father, HRH Don Juan, Count of Barcelona, as de jure King of Spain. HRH The Count of Barcelona renounced his rights on 14 May 1977. King Juan Carlos was designated heir to the throne with the title of the Prince of Spain by General Francisco Franco, Chief of State on 22 July 1969.
  7. Indlovukazi Dzeliwe became Queen Regent and Head of State upon the death of King Sobhuza II on 21 August 1982. Prince Makhosetive (meaning «King of All Nations») was formally installed as King Mswati III at his enthronement on 25 April 1986 when he had reached his age of majority. According to Burke's Royal Families of the World, Vol. II, p. 214, «The title of the Kings of Swaziland is Ngwenyama (The Lion) and their power is always shared with a Queen Mother, who has the title of Ndlovukazi (The Lady Elephant). If a King's actual mother dies, an aunt or other close relation of the same clan is appointed to fill the office. The heir to the throne is only chosen after a King's death from among his younger sons (the eldest is never chosen) and must have no full brothers, nor be left-handed.»
  8. King Letsie III has also reigned from 12 Nov 1990 to 25 Jan 1995, when he abdicated in favour of his father. King Moeshoeshoe died on 15 Jan 1996. The College of Chiefs decided on 18 Jan 1996 that Letsie should succeed his father. His succession is counted from his installation date, cf. Almanach de Bruxelles. He was crowned on 31 October 1997.
  9. Cf. Burke's Royal Families of the World, Vol. II, p. 157, King Letsie was referred to as «Prin Chief-designate of Matsieng and Heir Apparent». But at the official Lesotho page, we are told that «He was installed as the Principal Chief of Matsieng on December 16, 1989». It is unknown to me if a new Principal Chief of Matsient has been appointed after Letsie III succeeded.
  10. HRH Prince Hamzah Bin Hussein, b. 29 March 1980, was Heir Apparent with the title Crown Prince («Wali al-Ahd») from 7 Feb 1999 until 28 November 2004, when King Abdullah by decree and by letter to his younger half-brother decided to deprive him of his title and position. In accordance with the Constitution Art. 28 the King's son, Prince Hussein, automatically became Heir Apparent, although this might change if the King decides to appoint another brother of his as Crown Prince.
  11. Bahrain was transformed from an emirate to a kingdom on 14 Februar 2002, cf. Royal Order No. 1/2002 («Royal Order on the Kingdom of Bahrain», translation published in The Bahrain Tribune 15 February 2002).
  12. Enthronement 30 July 1999, cf. his biography at Mincom.gov.ma (url http://www.mincom.gov.ma/english/generalities/hismajesty/SM_MedVI.html now closed).
  13. Please note that Andorra, being a co-principality, is counted twice. The Bishop of Urgell and President of the French Republic are both Co-Princes.
  14. HE Joan Enric Vives Sicilia (b. 24 July 1949) was on 25 June 2001 appointed as Coadjutor Bishop of Urgell, which meant that he would succeed the then Bishop of Urgell, Joan Martí Alanis (b. 29 Nov 1928), now Archbishop ad personam, as Bishop and Co-Prince on his retirement or death. The Pope accepted Martí's resignment on 12 May 2003 and Vives was appointed as the new Bishop of Urgell and Co-Prince of Andorra. Martí reigned as Co-Prince of Andorra from 31 Jan 1971 to 12 May 2003.
  15. Cambodia is an elective monarchy, cf. the Constitution Art. 10. The Royal Council of the Throne makes the election, and according to Article 14 «The King of Cambodia shall be a member of the Royal family, of at least 30 years, descending from the blood line of King Ang Duong, King Norodom or King Sisowath».
  16. The United Arab Emirates is a federation of monarchies. The title «president» is somewhat misleading, as the head of state of the federation is «president» of the Supreme Council of Rulers, i.e. he is the presiding ruler among seven co-equal emirs. The president of the UAE is elected for a five-year period. Sheikh Khalifa's father Sheikh Zayed was President from 1971 to his death in 2004.
  17. The Vice President does not get (automatically) promoted when the President resigns or dies. The former Vice President was elected the first time in 1990 when his father died, but only served as acting President when Sheikh Zayed died on 2 November 2004 until Sheikh Khalifa was elected as new President the day after.
    In reality only the rulers of Abu Dhabi and Dubai are elected as President and Vice President repsectively, reflecting their emirates' dominating position in the union. According to his official website, HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum was elected Vice President of the UAE by the Supreme Council on Friday 6 January 2006, 2 days after his brother, Sheikh Maktoum Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, had died while on vacation in Australia.
  18. The Monegasque princely house law Art. 2 second paragraph says that «The heir of the reigning Prince who is the closest in the succession order resulting from those terms is Hereditary Prince.» This could be interpreted into saying that Princess Caroline as no. 1 in the line of succession to the throne of Monaco (cf. the Constitution Art. 10), automatically became Hereditary Princess upon her brother Albert's succession. As no clarification has been given by the Monegasque Princely Court, and considering the fact that the princess is, at least for now, only Heir Presumptive, I have decided to use the reference HRH The Princess of Hannover.
  19. Cf. Al Jazeera 19 June 2012. Crown Prince Salman succeeded Crown Prince Nayef, who died in Switzerland on Saturday 16 June 2012 and was laid to rest in Mecca the day after.
  20. HH Sheikh Saad Al-Abdullah Al-Salem Al-Sabah, Emir (1930–2008), succeeded to throne of Kuwait on 15 January 2006 following the death of his distant cousin HH Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah (reigned 1977–2006). Due to the new Emir's bad health, the cabinet initiated a process to replace him by a more capable person. Late 23 January 2006 Sheikh Saad agreed to abdicate. The day after the Parliament voted to «relieve him of his leadership», shortly before the formal letter of abdication arrived. The cabinet nominated HH Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, b. 1931 (?), prime minister since 2003 and half-brother of the late Sheikh Jaber, as the new Emir. Sheikh Sabah was formally elected as the new Emir on 29 January 2006 and took the oath the same day.
  21. HH Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah was nominated by Amiri decree as the new Crown Prince on 8 February 2006, cf. The Arab Times the same day. I have not got the date when the Crown prince was formally approved by the Parliament.
  22. HM King Jigme Singye Wangchuk issued on 9 December 2006 a royal kasho where he handed over his responsibilities as Monarch and head of state of Bhutan to his eldest son Crown Prince Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck. According to Kuenselonline.com 15 December 2006 the formal transition took place on 14 December 2006, when Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuk assumed the full responsibilities as head of state as the 5th Druk Gyalpo (King) of Bhutan.
  23. Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese Efi was selected as Head of State by the parliament on Friday 16 June 2007, cf. Pacific Magazine Monday 18 June 2007. The election was officially confirmed by the Parliament on 18 June 2007 and the new head of statet was sworn in on 20 June 2007.
  24. HH O le Ao o le Malö (Head of State) Malietoa Tanumafili II, b. 4 Jan 1912, passed away peacefully at the Tupua Tamasese Meaole Memorial Hospital, Samoa, at 6.45 PM, Friday, 11 May 2007.
    Tupua Tamasese Mea'ole and Malietoa Tanumafili II assumed jointly on the Independence Day 1 January 1962 the office of Head of State. Tupua Tamasese Mea'ole died on 5 April 1963 and Malietoa Tanumafili II reigned alone since that date. The Constitution says that upon his death, the head of state will be elected every fifth year.
    Part III article 18 paragraph 2 of the Constitution says among others that «A person shall not be qualified to be elected to the office of Head of State - (a) If he is not a person qualified to be elected as a Member of Parliament; or (b) If he does not possess such other qualifications as the Legislative Assembly may determine from time to time by resolution; [...]».
    Samoan law (Constitution and Electoral act) stipulates that only holders of Matai (noble) titles, with the exception of 2 seats, can be elected to Parliament (http://www.parliament.gov.ws/general.cfm). It is also an understanding that the office of Head of State should only be held by the holder of one of the four royal titles of Samoa (as confirmed by the Samoan Ambassador to Brussels in 2006, to Lukasz Szkopinski, Asian Royals Message Board, 15 May 2007) - Malietoa, Tamasese, Tuimaleali'ifano or Mata'afa; so even though the head of state is not titled king and Samoa is not defined as a monarchy in its official name ("The Independent State of Samoa"), it is in all but name an elective monarchy, and is therefore listed, at least for now, in the survey «Longest reigns».
  25. The Malaysian throne is elective and rotating among the sultans of the member states of the Federation ( Alt.talk.royalty FAQ ), cf. Art. 38 of the Constitution.
  26. Sultan Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah ibni Sultan Badlishah was elected the 14th Yang di-Pertuan Agong at the 208th Conference of Rulers held on 14 October 2011. He was sworn in on 13 Dec 2011, cf. New Straits Times 13 December 2011. The 14th Yang di-Pertuan Agong is the first person to hold the office as head of state twice. He also ruled from 1970 to 1975.
  27. The Sultan of Kelantan is styled Royal Highness. The position of Deputy King gives no special style.
  28. Until the new reign name is announced, I have decided to give his name in full, i.e. H.M. 'Aho'eitu 'Unuaki-'o-Tonga Tuku'aho Tupou VI.
  29. HM King George Tupou V, b. 4 May 1948, died at Hong Kong at 3 p.m. on 18 March 2012, cf. the announcement of the Tonga Government Portal. Ministry of Information & Communications 19 March 2012.
  30. Please note that Andorra, being a co-principality, is counted twice. The President of the French Republic and the Bishop of Urgell are both Co-Princes.
  31. 30 April 2013. Koningin ondertekent Akte van Abdicatie cf. also the text of the abdication document, Akte van Abdikatie.
  32. Al Jazeera 25 June 2013: Qatar's emir transfers power to son.
  33. Cf. Article 8 of the Constitution of Qatar: «The rule of the State is hereditary in the family of Al Thani and in the line of the male descendants of Hamad Bin Khalifa Bin Hamad Bin Abdullah Bin Jassim. The rule shall be inherited by the son named as Heir Apparent by the Emir. In the case that there is no such son, the prerogatives of rule shall pass to the member of the family named by the Emir as Heir Apparent. In this case, his male descendants shall inherit the rule. The provisions of the rule of the State and accession shall be determined by a special law that shall be issued within a year commencing as from the date of coming into force of this Constitution. This law shall have the power of the Constitution.» (cf. the official website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Qatar.)
  34. The Belgian Constitution Article 90 Paragraph 2 says that «From the moment of the King's death and until the taking of oath by his successor to the throne or by the Regent, the King's constitutional powers are exercised, in the name of the Belgian people, by the Council of Ministers, and under their responsibility.» In the following Article 91 Paragraph 2 we learn that «The King may accede to the throne only after having taken the following oath before the united Houses [...]». In this context the king or reigning queen who abdicates is regarded as «legally dead». The abdication ceremony for King Albert II took place on 21 June 2013 at 10.30, while the swearing in ceremony for Philippe started at noon the same day. The time the government exercised the King's constitutional powers was in other words rather short.



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