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A queen regnant (plural: queens regnant) is a female
monarch A monarch is a head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona A persona (plural personae or personas), depending on the context, can refer to either the public image of one's personality, or the social role tha ...

monarch
, equivalent in rank and title to a
king King is the title given to a male monarch in a variety of contexts. The female equivalent is queen regnant, queen, which title is also given to the queen consort, consort of a king. *In the context of prehistory, antiquity and contempora ...
, who reigns in her own right over a
realm A realm is a community or territory over which a sovereign Sovereign is a title which can be applied to the highest leader in various categories. The word is borrowed from Old French ''souverain'', which is ultimately derived from the Latin ...

realm
known as a "kingdom"; as opposed to a
queen consort A queen consort is the wife of a reigning king King is the title given to a male monarch in a variety of contexts. The female equivalent is queen regnant, queen, which title is also given to the queen consort, consort of a king. *I ...
, who is the wife of a reigning king; or a
queen regent A regent (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the ...
, who is the guardian of a child monarch and rules temporarily in the child's stead, be it in sharing power, or in ruling alone. A princess regnant is a female monarch who reigns in her own right over a "
principality A principality (or sometimes princedom) can either be a monarchical A monarchy is a form of government in which a person, the monarch, is head of state for life or until abdication. The legitimacy (political)#monarchy, political le ...
"; an empress regnant is a female monarch who reigns in her own right over an "
empire An empire is a "political unit" made up of several territories and peoples, "usually created by conquest, and divided between a dominant center and subordinate peripheries". Narrowly defined, an empire is a sovereign state called an empire and ...

empire
". A queen regnant possesses and exercises sovereign powers, whereas a queen consort or queen regent shares her spouse's and/or child's rank and titles, but does not share the sovereignty of her spouse or child. The husband of a queen regnant traditionally does not share the queen regnant's rank, title or sovereignty. However, the concept of a king consort or
prince consort A prince consort is the husband of a king King is the title given to a male monarch in a variety of contexts. The female equivalent is queen regnant, queen, which title is also given to the queen consort, consort of a king. *In the con ...
is not unheard of in both contemporary and classical periods. A
queen dowager#REDIRECT Queen dowager A queen dowager, dowager queen or queen mother (compare: princess dowager, dowager princess or princess mother) is a title or status generally held by the widow of a king. In the case of the widow of an emperor An emp ...
or
empress dowager Empress dowager (also dowager empress or empress mother) () is the translation of the title given to the or of an East Asian (, , , and ) emperor. The title was also given occasionally to another of the same generation, while a woman from t ...
is the widow of a king or emperor; a
queen mother A queen mother is a former queen, often a queen dowager A queen dowager, dowager queen or queen mother (compare: princess dowager, dowager princess or princess mother) is a title or status generally held by the widow of a king. In the case of t ...
is a queen dowager who is also the mother of a reigning sovereign.


History

In Ancient Africa,
Ancient Persia The history of Iran, which was commonly known until the mid-20th century as Name of Iran, Persia in the Western world, is intertwined with the history of a larger region, also to an extent known as Greater Iran, comprising the area from Anatolia ...
, Asian and Pacific cultures, and in some European countries, female monarchs have been given the title ''king'' or its equivalent, such as ''
pharaoh Pharaoh ( , ; cop, , Pǝrro) is the common title now used for the monarch A monarch is a head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona A persona (plural personae or personas), depending on the conte ...

pharaoh
'', when gender is irrelevant to the office, or else have used the masculine form of the word in languages that have
grammatical gender In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most langua ...
as a way to classify nouns. The
Byzantine The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople. It survi ...
Empress Irene Irene of Athens ( el, Εἰρήνη, ; 752 – 9 August 803), surnamed Sarantapechaina (), was Eastern Roman empress by marriage to Emperor Leo IV from 775 to 780, regent A regent (from the Latin : ruling, governing) is a person appointed ...
sometimes titled herself ''
basileus ''Basileus'' ( el, βασιλεύς) is a Greek term and title A title is one or more words used before or after a person's name, in certain contexts. It may signify either generation, an official position, or a professional or academic quali ...
'' (βασιλεύς), 'emperor', rather than ''basilissa'' (βασίλισσα), 'empress' and
Jadwiga of Poland Jadwiga (; 1373 or 137417 July 1399), also known as Hedwig ( hu, Hedvig), was the first female monarch of the Kingdom of Poland Historical political entities *Kingdom of Poland "Kingdom of Poland" ( Polish: ''Królestwo Polskie'', Latin Lat ...
was crowned as ''Rex Poloniae'', ''King of Poland''. Among the
Davidic The Davidic line or House of David (, ) refers to the lineage of the Israelite The Israelites (; he, בני ישראל ''Bnei Yisra'el'') were a confederation of Iron Age ancient Semitic-speaking peoples, Semitic-speaking tribes of the a ...
Monarchs of the
Kingdom of Judah The Kingdom of Judah ( he, יְהוּדָה, ''Yəhūdā''; akk, 𒅀𒌑𒁕𒀀𒀀 ''Ya'uda'' 'ia-ú-da-a-a'' arc, 𐤁‬𐤉‬𐤕‬𐤃𐤅‬𐤃 ''Bēyt David, Dāwīḏ'') was an Israelites, Israelite kingdom of the Southern Le ...
, there is mentioned a single queen regnant,
Athaliah Athaliah ( Ancient Ancient history is the aggregate of past eventsAztec King Nezahualpiltzintli of Texcoco King is the ... and Queen Jezebel of Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל, translit=Yīsrāʾēl; ar, إِسْ ...
, though the
Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites ...

Hebrew Bible
regards her negatively as a usurper. The much later
Hasmonean
Hasmonean
Queen
Salome Alexandra Salome Alexandra or Alexandra of Jerusalem ( he, שְׁלוֹמְצִיּוֹן אלכסנדרה, ''Shelomtzion'' or ''Shlom Tzion''; 141–67 BCE), was one of only two women to rule over Judea (the other being Athaliah). The wife of Aristo ...

Salome Alexandra
(Shlom Tzion) was highly popular. Accession of a queen regnant occurs as a nation's
order of succession An order of succession or right of succession is the line of individuals entitled to hold a high office when it becomes vacated such as head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona A persona (plural personae ...
permits. Methods of succession to kingdoms,
tribal The term tribe is used in many different contexts to refer to a category of human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, and intellig ...

tribal
chiefships, and such include nomination (the reigning monarch or a council names an heir),
primogeniture Primogeniture ( ) is the right, by law or custom, of the firstborn legitimate child to inherit Inherit may refer to: * Inheritance, passing on of property after someone's death * Heredity, passing of genetic traits to offspring * Inheritance ( ...
(in which the children of a monarch or chief have preference in order of birth from eldest to youngest), and
ultimogeniture Ultimogeniture, also known as postremogeniture or junior right, is the tradition of inheritance Inheritance is the practice of passing on private property, Title (property), titles, debts, entitlements, Privilege (law), privileges, rights, and ...
(in which the children have preference in the reverse order of birth from youngest to eldest). The scope of succession may be matrilineal, patrilineal, or both; or, rarely, open to general election when necessary. The right of succession may be open to men and women, or limited to men only or to women only. The most typical succession in European monarchies from the
Late Middle Ages The Late Middle Ages or Late Medieval Period was the period Period may refer to: Common uses * Era, a length or span of time * Full stop (or period), a punctuation mark Arts, entertainment, and media * Period (music), a concept in musical com ...
until the late 20th century was
male-preference primogeniture Primogeniture ( ) is the right, by law or custom, of the firstborn legitimate child to inherit Inherit may refer to: * Inheritance, passing on of property after someone's death * Heredity, passing of genetic traits to offspring * Inheritance ( ...
: the order of succession ranked the sons of the monarch in order of their birth, followed by the daughters. Historically, many realms, like
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses ...
,
Holy Roman Empire The Holy Roman Empire ( la, Sacrum Romanum Imperium; german: Heiliges Römisches Reich) was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town i ...
,
England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest of England and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. E ...
forbade succession by women or through a female line in accordance with the
Salic law#REDIRECT Salic law The Salic law ( or ; la, Lex salica), or the was the ancient Salian Franks, Salian Frankish Civil law (legal system), civil law code compiled around AD 500 by the first Frankish King, Clovis I, Clovis. The written text is in La ...
, and nine countries still do, such countries being
Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally ) is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of an in ...
,
Morocco ) , image_map = Morocco (orthographic projection, WS claimed).svg , map_caption = Location of Morocco in northwest Africa.Dark green: Undisputed territory of Morocco.Lighter green: Western Sahara, a United Nations lis ...
,
Jordan Jordan ( ar, الأردن; tr. ' ), officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan,; tr. ') is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger region In ge ...
,
Saudi Arabia (''Shahada'') , national_anthem = "National Anthem of Saudi Arabia, " "National Anthem of Saudi Arabia" , image_map = Saudi Arabia (orthographic projection).svg , capital = Riyadh , coordinates ...
,
Bahrain Bahrain ( ; ar, البحرين, al-Baḥrayn, , locally ), officially the Kingdom of Bahrain ( ar, مملكة البحرين, links=no '), is a country in the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, Persian Gulf. The Island country, island nation c ...
,
Brunei Brunei ( ; ), officially the Nation of Brunei, the Abode of Peace ( ms, Negara Brunei Darussalam, Jawi alphabet, Jawi: ), is a sovereign state, country located on the north coast of the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia. Apart from its coa ...
,
Liechtenstein Liechtenstein ( ; ), officially the Principality of Liechtenstein (german: link=no, Fürstentum Liechtenstein), is a German-speaking The German language (, ) is a West Germanic language mainly spoken in Central Europe Central Europ ...
,
Bhutan Bhutan (; dz, འབྲུག་ཡུལ་, Druk Yul, ), officially known as the Kingdom of Bhutan ( dz, འབྲུག་རྒྱལ་ཁབ་, Druk Gyal Khap), is a landlocked country in the Eastern Himalayas. It is bordered by Chin ...
. No queen regnant ever ruled
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses ...

France
, for example. Only one woman,
Maria Theresa Maria Theresa Walburga Amalia Christina (german: Maria Theresia; 13 May 1717 – 29 November 1780) was the ruler of the Habsburg Monarchy, Habsburg dominions from 1740 until her death in 1780, and the only woman to hold the position. She was th ...
, ruled Austria. As noted in the list below of widely-known ruling queens, many reigned in European monarchies. In the late 20th and early 21st centuries,
Sweden Sweden ( sv, Sverige ), officially the Kingdom of Sweden ( sv, links=no, Konungariket Sverige ), is a Nordic country The Nordic countries, or the Nordics, are a geographical and cultural region In geography, regions are areas that ...

Sweden
,
Norway Norway, officially the Kingdom of Norway,Names in the official and recognised languages: Bokmål Bokmål (, ; literally "book tongue") is an official written standard for the Norwegian language Norwegian (Norwegian: ''norsk'') is a Nort ...

Norway
,
Belgium Belgium ( nl, België ; french: Belgique ; german: Belgien ), officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Western Europe Western Europe is the western region of Europe. The region's countries and territories vary depending on cont ...

Belgium
, the
Netherlands ) , national_anthem = ( en, "William of Nassau") , image_map = EU-Netherlands.svg , map_caption = , image_map2 = BES islands location map.svg , map_caption2 = , image_map3 ...

Netherlands
,
Denmark Denmark ( da, Danmark, ) is a Nordic country The Nordic countries, or the Nordics, are a geographical and cultural region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics ( physical geography), hu ...

Denmark
,
Luxembourg Luxembourg ( ; lb, Lëtzebuerg ; french: link=no, Luxembourg; german: link=no, Luxemburg), officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, ; french: link=no, Grand-Duché de Luxembourg ; german: link=no, Großherzogtum Luxemburg is a landlocked ...

Luxembourg
and the
UK
UK
amended their laws of succession to
absolute primogeniture Primogeniture ( ) is the right, by law or custom, of the firstborn legitimate child to inherit Inherit may refer to: * Inheritance, passing on of property after someone's death * Heredity, passing of genetic traits to offspring * Inheritance ( ...
(in which the children of a monarch or chief have preference in order of birth from eldest to youngest regardless of gender). In some cases, the change does not take effect during the lifetimes of people already in the line of succession at the time the law was passed. In 2011, the United Kingdom and the 15 other
Commonwealth realms A Commonwealth realm is a sovereign state that has Elizabeth II as its monarch and head of state. Each realm functions as an independent state, equal with the other realms. In 1952, Elizabeth II was the monarch and head of state of seven in ...

Commonwealth realms
agreed to remove the rule of male-preference primogeniture. Once the necessary legislation was passed, this means that had
Prince William Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, (William Arthur Philip Louis; born 21 June 1982) is a member of the British royal family The British royal family comprises and her close relations. There is no strict legal or formal definition ...

Prince William
had a daughter first, a younger son would not have become heir apparent. In 2015,
Elizabeth II Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary; born 21 April 1926) is Queen of the United Kingdom The monarchy of the United Kingdom, commonly referred to as the British monarchy, is the constitutional monarchy A constitutional mo ...

Elizabeth II
became the longest-reigning queen regnant and female head of state in world history. In 2016, she became the longest currently serving head of state and longest currently reigning monarch.


East Asia

In
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere ...

China
,
Wu Zetian Wu Zhao, commonly known as Wu Zetian (17 February 624 – 26 November 705), alternatively Wu Hou, and during the later Tang dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, ...
became the Chinese empress regnant and established the
Zhou Dynasty The Zhou dynasty ( ; Old Chinese Old Chinese, also called Archaic Chinese in older works, is the oldest attested stage of Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China ...
after dismissing her sons. The Empress Wu used the title ''huangdi'' (皇帝, "emperor") and in many European sources, is referred to as a female emperor rather than an empress regnant. A few decades earlier in Korea,
Queen Seondeok of Silla Queen Seondeok of Silla ( ; 595~610 – 17 February 647/January 8, Lunar Calendar) reigned as Queen Regnant A queen regnant (plural: queens regnant) is a female monarch, equivalent in rank and title to a king (title), king, who reigns in ...
and
Jindeok of Silla Jindeok of Silla (? – 654), reigned as queen regnant, Queen of Silla, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, from 647 to 654. She was the kingdom's List of monarchs of Korea, 28th ruler, and its second reigning queen following her predecessor Quee ...
developed the term ''yeowang'' (여왕, "female king") to refer to themselves, using the title instead of ''wangbi'' (왕비), which is usually translated as "queen consort" and refers to the wife of a king or emperor. Although the
Chrysanthemum Throne The is the throne A throne is the seat of state of a potentate or dignitary {{Short pages monitor