Guide to Women in Leadership
Sri Lanka Heads of State
Also see Sri Lanka Ministers
Before BCE 544-505
Legendary Queen Kuveni of Heladipa (Sri Lanka)
She had succeeded her father, and was told of the arrival of Vijaya, the Aryan Prince and his followers and on meeting him fell in love with him and were united and blessed by Sandu the moon goddess. Preparations were made for the wedding according to the ancient rites and ceremonies of the people of Heladipe, and they reigned as King and Queen of Heladipa for five years and their subjects were happy and contented. They had a son and a daughter. But she was abandoned and her ex-husband married an Aryan Princess from a Royal family to whom he had been betrothed before he was banished from his homeland. He made her his new Queen of the Island of Heldaipa. His followers married women from the land of this Queen and from this union sprang the Sinhalese race. The name Heladipa was changed to Sinhadipa. Kuveni, broken hearted and alone, cursed Vijaya, his Kingdom and all the future rulers of the Island stating that no ruler would ever be able to rule the land without bloodshed and strife. She then went back to her people and was received with a hail of stones. She fell to the ground and lay in a heap as the stones pounded the life out of her. After the death of Queen Kuveni, under the hands of her own kinsmen whom she had earlier betrayed, her son and daughter escaped to the jungle and started a progeny, the Sabaras, the present day Veddahs.
BCE 47-42 Queen Anula
Succeeded her husband Kuda Tissa (9-12). Co-ruler with four different men.
BCE 35-30 Queen Sivali
1156/57 Rebellion Leader Queen Sugala Devi in
She raised the standard of revolt in Ruhuna against Parakrama Bahu the Great (1153-1186), who had become sole monarch of Lanka. She was gradually driven to the south of the island by the royal army operating in Uva, and her defeat was ensured by the arrival of other forces from Sabaragamuwa and the western sea coast. Sugala Devi herself was captured and the revolt collapsed.
1184-87, 1196-96 and 1197-98/or 1197-1200, 1209-10 and 1211-12 Queen Regnant Lilavati of Sri Lanka
Widow Parakrama Bahu I, who was succeeded by a number of kings who only ruled for short times, she was placed on the throne by General Senevirat. Duringher first reign the country was peaceful and prosperous and she was able to devote her time to the development of literature, music, drama and art until she was removed from the throne by her co-Ministers. The next 9 years saw another succession of rulers until she was placed on the throne by General Camunakka for the second time, and he ruled the country by her, until she was She was deposed by Lokissara, who arrived in Lanka with an army enlisted abroad, and defeated the royal forces at the capital of Polonnaruwa. He took the throne but was soon deposed, and she was installed as Queen for the third time until she was deposed after 7 months by King Parakrama of Pandu in South-India, who reigned until 1201.
1189-95/or 1202-08 Queen Regnant Kalyanawati of
The widow of king Nissanka Malla, she was installed Queen by General Ayasmantha who ruled the country through her for six years. His reign came to an end after she was deposed.
1594-1613 Queen Kusumasanadevi of Kandy
Also known as Queen Doņa Catherina Kusumasana Devi, she was the daughter of previous King of Kandy, Karaliadde Bandara, who died when she was three years old, and she grew up with the Portuguese, who installed her as "puppet-ruler" with the title of Empress, only as cover for Portuguese occupation of the Kandyan Kingdom, lasting only for four months with Lopez de Souza, the Portuguese Conquistador on her side. The latter was killed at the battle of Danture in l594 when Catherina fell into the hands of Konappu Bandara He was a Kandyan aristocrat who had mastered Portuguese military skills by feigning to have become a Christian became the king of Senkadagalapura (Kandy) in 1592, after deposing the Portuguese puppet Don Juan, set up by them. Konappu Bandara assumed the name of Vimaladharmasuriya I, (1592- 1604) marrying Dona Catherina and thereby strengthening his claim to the throne. After his death, she married his first cousin Senarat (1604-1635), a priest, who threw off his robes. She lived (1578-1613).
1613-17 "Hereditary Princess" Suriya Devi
After the death of her mother, Dona Catherina, she married his husband, Senarat, in order to strenghten his claim to the throne. When she died, he married her sister. (d. 1617).
1617 "Hereditary Princess" Sama Devi
Married to the widower of her mother and older sister, and his marriages shows that he, the son of a village headman from matale, realized the weakness of his claim to the throne and tried to establish his relationship with the old dynasty of Kandy through Dona Catherina Kusuma Devi. After her husband's death, her brother, Raja Singha II, succeeded to the throne.
Head of State, Prime Minister Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga (19.8-14.11)
1994-2005 Executive President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces (12.11-19.11)
Vice-President 1984-86 and President of Sri Lanka Maha Jana Party 1984-86, Leader of United Socialist Alliance 1988 and since 1993 Leader of Peoples Alliance and Deputy Leader of Sri Lanka Freedom Party, 1993-94 Chief Minister of the Colombo Province. Her husband Vijaya K. was assinated 1988. As President she held a number of other portfolios - among others that of Minister of Defence. She is mother of 2 children, daughter of the Prime Ministers Solomon and Sirivamo Bandaranaike.(1945-)
Head of State, Prime Minister Sirimavo R.D. Bandaranaike (14.11.-10.8)
In 1960-65 and 1977 Prime Minister and 1960-65 Minister of Foreign Affairs, Defence and Employment, Chairman 1960-93 and 1993-2000 President of Sri Lanka Freedom Party, 1965-70 and 1988-94 Leader of The Opposition, 1976 Chairman of the Association of Non Aligned Nations, 1988 Presidential Candidate 1994 Minister without Portfolio (Second in Cabinet). Widow of Solomon B., Premier of Ceylon 1956-59 until he was assassinated. Her father Mr. Rawatte was a Senator. As Prime Minister she is Deputy Head of State. (17.4.1916-10.10.2000)
2011-13 3. Deputy Head of State, Chief Justice Dr. Shirani
First female Supreme Court Judge in 1996. She was removed from office because she was acting too independent from the government. Not related to the former President and Prime Ministers from the Bandaranaike-family. (b. 1958-)
2011-13 3. Deputy Head of State, Chief Justice Dr. Shirani
Last update 20.08.13