Reigning Queens and Empresses

Worldwide Guide to Women in Leadership

from 1900

This is a list of royal women who has been Heads of State in their own right or 
acted as regents for their children or husbands from 1900 onwards.
See also Women Leaders Throughout the Ages

1908-12 De-facto Co-Regent, HIM Dowager Empress Xiao Ding Jing Long Yu Huagtaihou of China (13.11-06.12)
1911-12 Empress-Regent (6.12-12.2)

Dowager Empress Cixi entrusted a vaguely specified Imperial authority to her. Long Yu was the holder of the Imperial Seal and exercised the Imperial authority. On 6.12.11 the regent and father of Emperor Puyi (1906-1908-12-67), Prince Zaifeng, resigned. At 6.12.12 she presided over the final cabinet meeting of the Qing Dynasty and was forced to sign the imperial abdication decree, which abolished the monarchy. Long Yu was niece of Empress Cixi and the childless widow of Emperor Zaitian and lived (1868-1913).

1908 Lieutenant-Representant Grand Duchess HRH Maria-Anna da Bragança of Luxembourg (19.03-18.11)
1908-1912 Grande Duchesse Regent (18.11-14.06)

Also known as Mare Anne de Portugal, she was rgent during her husband, Gand Duke Guillaume's illness (19.3.08-25.12.) and her daughter's minority (25.2-14.6). Born as Infanta of Portugal and mother of six daughters. She lived (1861-1942).

1912-19 HSH Marie-Adélheïde, By the Grace of God Grand Duchess of Luxembourg (25.02-14.01)

Her Serene Highness Maria-Adelheide was also Duchess of Nassau, Countess-Palatine and Electress of the Rhine, Countess of Sayn, Hadenburg, Königstein, Krazenborgen and Dietz, Burgravine of Hammerstein, Dame of Mahlberg, Wiesbaden, Idstein, Merenberg, Limburg and Eppstein. The first 4 months her mother acted as regent, she abdicated in favour of her sister in 1919 and died in a convent a few years later. She lived (1894-1924).

1916-30 HIM Empress Negista Nagast Zawdute Menilek of Ethiopia (27.09-02.04)

Caimed the throne after her father, Melnik II's death in 1913 but her nephew was placed on the throne 1913-16, but newer crowned. Her cousin, Prince Rasta Fari, was regent and succeeded her as Emperor Haile Selassie III. She  died of diabetes and lived She was married four times and had a daughter (1891-94).Her full title was Her Imperial Majesty Negista Nagast, Queen of Kings, Elect of God and Lion of Judah. She lived (1876-1930).

1918-65 HM Kuini Salote Mafile'o Pilolevu Veiongo Tupou III, By the Grace of God Queen of Tonga (05.04-15.12)

Queen Salote was absolute ruler and also President of the Privy Council. Also the 24th Tu’i Kano’kupolu and 1923-65 Head of the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga, the National (Methodist) Church, in 1937 Created Dame of the Order
 of the British Empire, 1945 Dame of the Order Grand Cross and 1953 Dame of the Order of St. James’s. Her husband, was a member of the nobility and a side-line of the royal family, Prince Uiliame Tupoulahi Tungi, and Premier 1923- 41(†), their son was Premier till she died and he became king Tauf’ahau Toupu IV (1918-1965-). 191 centimetres tall, mother of three sons, and lived (1900-65).

1919-64 HRH. Charlotte, By the Grace of God Grand Duchess of Luxembourg (15.01-12.11)
1940-44 Leader of the Government-in-Exile from Montreal (10.05-10.09)

Succeeded her sister also as Duchess of Nassau, Countess-Palatine and Electress of the Rhine, Countess of Sayn, Hadenburg, Königstein, Krazenborgen and Dietz, Burgravine of Hammerstein, Dame of Mahlberg, Wiesbaden, Idstein, Merenberg, Limburg and Eppstein. During World War II she was leader of the exile-government in Canada. In 1961 her son, Jean, was appointed regent and in 1964 she abdicated in his favour. Married to Prince Felix of Bourbon-Parma (1893-1970) and mother of six children. She lived (1896-1985).

1920 Regent/Vice-Reine Dowager HM Queen Olga of Greece (18.11-11.12)

Born HIH Grand Duchess Olga Konstantinovna Romanova of Russia, she was acting head of state during a vacancy at the throne. She lived (1851-1926).

1927-74 La Dame Dame Sibyl Mary Beaumont Hathaway of Sark (Channel Islands)

Succeeded her father William Collings as the 21st Seigneur of the Sark. Her first husband, Dudley Beaumont, died in 1918 of influenza leaving her with five children and one unborn daughter. Her second husband, Robert Hathaway (1888-1954) became Seigneur in the right of his wife in accordance with the ancient custom. In principle Sibyl would have had to retire, but she remained the active and driving force the de-facto ruler. She remained on Sark during the German occupation while her husband was deported to Germany. Dame Sibyl was President and member of a number of committees of the Chief Pleas. She appointed her youngest daughter Jehanne Bell as Deputy Seigneur 1946-68. Sibyl outlived all but two children and was succeeded by her grandson, the present Seigneur J. Michael Beaumont. She lived (1884-1974).

1941-60 Acting Paramount Chief The Mofumahali 'MaNtsebo Amalia 'Matsaba Sempe of Lesotho (28.01-12.03)

Lesotho at the time was a British protectorate with the name Basutoland. Her son, Moshoeshoe II, was King 1960-70, 1970-88 and 1990-96.  The photo is taken during a visit to the Pope in 1954. She lived (1902-65).

1947 Princess-Regent Juliana of the Netherlands 
1948 Princess-Regent (12.05-02.08)
1948-80 By the Grace of God Queen of the Netherlands (04.09-30.04)

Queen Juliana was also Princess van Oranje Nassau, Duchess van Mecklenburg-Schwerin etc, etc, etc. The Netherlands at the time included Suriname (independent 1975) and the Nederlandse Antillen. She acted as regent during her mother, Queen Wilhelmina's illness. Married to Prince Bernhard von Lippe-Biesterfeld (1911-2004). Later abdicated in favour of her oldest of four daughters, Queen Beatrix, and has since been known as HRH Princess Juliana of the Netherlands. She lived (1909-2004).

1952- HM Elizabeth II of United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Her other Realms and Territories, Defender of the Faith, Head of the Commonwealth

The following external territories are part of the kingdom: Anguilla, Bermuda, British Indian Ocean Territory, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn Islands, Saint Helena, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands. She is also Sovereign of the Channel Islands and Lord of the Isle of Man. Furthermore she is Queen of Canada, Australia, New Zealand (1952), Jamaica (1962), Barbados, (1966), Bahamas (1973), Grenada (1974), Tuvalu (1978), the Solomon Islands (1978), Papua New Guinea (1975), Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (1979), Saint Lucia (1979), Antigua and Barbuda (1981), Belize (1981) and Saint Christopher and Nevis (1983). Queen Elizabeth used to be Head of State in most of the countries in the Commonwealth. She is the mother of three sons and a daughter. Married to Philip Mountbatten, former Prince of Greece and Denmark. (b. 1926-).  

1952-53 Head of the Regency Council Her Majesty Queen Zein al-Sharaf of Jordan

In the official Jordan biography it says that her political instincts and courage allowed her to successfully fill a constitutional vacuum after the assassination of the late King Abdullah in 1951, while the newly proclaimed King Talal was being treated outside the Kingdom for his mental illness. When he was deposed in August 1952 she was regent until her son, Hussein I, until he turned 18 in May the following year. She played a major role in the political development of the Kingdom in the early 1950s, and took part in the writing of the 1952 Constitution that gave full rights to women and enhanced the social development of the country. Born in Egypt as daughter of the Court Chamberlain, Sharif Jamal Ali bin Nasser, she was mother of three sons and a daughter, and lived (1916-94).

1956 Regent HM Somdetch Pra Nang Chao Sirikit Phra Baromma Rajini Nath of Thailand (22.10-07.12)

Took the oath as regent before the National Assembly, as her husband, King Bhumibol retired to do the traditional Buddhist studies. She was born as Mom Rajawong Sikrit Kitiyakara of Chandaburi - as a distant member of the royal family. Since 1956 she has had the title Somdetch Pra Nang Chao Sirikit Phra Baromma Rajini Nath (Queen Regent) and still acts as Deputy Head of State. Mother of a son and three daughters. (b. 1932-).

1960-70 Ceremonial Head of State, Symbol, Incarnation and Representative of the Crown HM Queen Sisovath Monivong Kossomak Nearieath Serey Cathana of Cambodia (20.06-18.03)

In 1955 Sisowath Kossomak was crowned with her husband King Norodom Suramit, with the title of Queen Sri Sisavtta Naradhama Kusumana Nariratta Sri Vadhana. Her husband had succeeded their son, Prince Norodom Sihanouk who in his turn had succeeded her father as king in 1941. Sihanouk was Premier Minister 1955-60 Chief of State 1960-70, Head of Exile-Government 1982-1988 and 1989-92, Head of State 1992-93 and King again 1993-2004. After her husband’s death she was officially nominated as Queen Regnant in the Crown Council, but instead her son became Head of State after a referendum. During the swearing-in ceremony in the National Assembly he declared that "The Queen Kossomak incarnate and represent the Cambodian Dynasty". And afterwards she carried out the ceremonial duties connected to the monarchy, and was in effect Queen Regnant without reigning. She was the fifth daughter of King Sisovath Monivong and Queen Norodom Kantian, and in 1928 her father appointed her Somdetch Brat Raja Thad Kusumana Narirakshatri Angelica Angathidaraj Vera Varian Paramabanga Predicate Nariratta Vivadhana Maha Kshatriyi (the most lovely Princess, endowed with all the virtues, the first daughter of the King of the highest lineage, the most loved and greatest of Princesses, and the best Lady). In 1970 her son was deposed and she spend the rest of her life in exile in Beijing. She lived (1904-75).  

1966-2006 The Maori Queen Kuini Te Ata-i Rangi-Kaahu Koroki Te Rata Mahuta Tawhiao Potatau, New Zealand

Also known as Te Arikinui Te Ātairangikaahu te Kuīni Māori or Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu, she was usually addressed as Te Arikinui, or Dame Te Ata, and was Queen or Kingitanga of the Tainui and Ariki nui (Paramount Chief) of the other Maori Groups and Tribes. A direct descendant of the first Màori King, Pòtatau Te Wherowhero, and daughter of King Korokì V. Her role was only titular, but she was very influential and hosted many royal and diplomatic visitors to New Zealand, and she represented her people at state events overseas. She supported both traditional and contemporary Màori arts, and urged her people to pursue quality and excellence in everything they did, from sports to tribal enterprise and national management, and attended 28 Poukai (formal Maori assemblies) each year. She had expressed to the wish to be succeeded by her oldest child, Princess Heeni Katipa, but the tribes elected her third child and oldest son as king. Born as Piki Paki (nee Mahuta), she was mother of 5 daughters and 2 sons, and lived (1932-2006).

1970 Regent HM Queen ‘MaMohato Thabita 'Masente Lerotholi Mojela of Lesotho (05.06-20.11)
1990 Regent, Queen (06.11-12.11)
1996 Regent The Mofumahali (Queen Mother) (15.01-07.02)

In 1970 she was the regent for her son who was installed as king in place of her husband, King Moshoeshoe II, who was deposed during military coup d'etats in 1970 and 1990 and killed in a car-crash, and she took over the regency until her son was re-installed as king David Mahato Berng Seeiso Letsie III. He was also king 1970 and 1988-90. From 1996 she was known as Queen Mother Mamohato II. She has continued to act as Deputy Head of State and advisor of the King and Queen Until her death. She lived (1941-2003).

1972- HM Margrethe the Second, by the Grace of God, Denmark's Queen (14.01-)

Supreme Commander of the Defence Forces and Head of the Evangelian-Lutheran Church. The Rigsfælleskab - or
Commonwealth of the Realm - includes the external territories of The Faeroe Islands and Greenland. Married to Count Henri de Laborde de Monpezat, Prince Henrik. Margrethe II is the mother of two sons. (b. 1940-).

1972 Regent HM Queen Ashi Kesang of Bhutan (22.04-24.07)

Queen Kesang-la Chöden was appointed regent during the illness of her husband, King Druk Gylapo Jingme Dorje Wangchuck (1959-72). Their son King Jingme Singye Wangchuk (1955/1972- ), succeeded him at the age of 17. She is the second daughter of Raja Sonam Tobgye Dorji, Chief Minister of Bhutan by his wife Rani Choying Wangmo Namgyal, second daughter of H.H. Maharaja Thutob Namgyal Maharaja and Chogyal of Sikkim. (b. 1930-).

1980-2013 HM Beatrix Wilhelmina Armgard, By the Grace of God Queen of the Netherlands (30.04-30.04)

Queen Beatrix is also Princess van Oranje-Nassau, Princess van Lippe-Biesterfeld etc, etc, etc. The Kingdom of The Netherlands includes the external territories Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten. She succeeded her mother and abdicated in favour of her oldest son. Married to Claus von Amsberg (1926-2002) and mother of three sons. (b. 1938-).

1982-83 Queen Mother Indlovukazi Dzeliwe Shongwe of Swaziland (21.09-09.08)

The senior wife of King Sobhuza II, and joint-head of state and Queen Mother (The Indlovukazi, the Great She-Elephant) 1981-85 until the title was removed from her. As Queen Mother she was also co-Chairperson of the Swazi National Council the Libandla. She lived (1927-2003).

1983-86 Queen Regent and Head of State Ntombi laTwala of Swaziland (18.09-25.04)
1986- Joint Head of State, Queen Mother, the Indovukazi  

Emakhosikati (Queen) Ntombi was one of the youngest wifes of King Sobhuza II, and mother of the future king. She got the title of Queen Mother Indlovukazi in 1985. As Queen Mother she is Deputy Head of State and co-Chairperson of the Swazi National Council the Libandla, together with the king. (b. circa 1950-).

Last update 16.09.16

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