A king-emperor, the female equivalent being queen-empress, is a
sovereign ruler who is simultaneously a king of one territory and
emperor of another. This title usually results from a merger of a
royal and imperial crown (as in Austria-Hungary), but recognises that
the two territories are different politically or culturally and in
status (emperor being a higher rank than king). It also denotes a
king's imperial status through the acquisition of an empire or vice
The dual title signifies a sovereign's dual role, but may also be
created to improve a ruler's prestige. Both cases, however, show that
the merging of rule was not simply a case of annexation where one
state is swallowed by another, but rather of unification and almost
equal status, though in the case of the British monarchy the
suggestion that an emperor is higher in rank than a king was avoided
by creating the title "king-emperor" ("queen-empress") instead of
1 In the British Empire
2 In Austria-Hungary
3 In the Italian colonial empire
5 See also
In the British Empire
A plaque on the
Manchester Central Library
Manchester Central Library records George VI's titles
before giving up being
Emperor of India.
Coins of the Indian
Empire featured the title "
King Emperor", such as
this George V coin.
British Crown had officially taken over the governing of British
India from the
East India Company
East India Company in 1858, in the aftermath of what
the British called 'the Indian Mutiny'. Henceforth, the new British
Raj was ruled directly from
Whitehall via the India Office. Following
Delhi Durbar in 1877,
Queen Victoria was given Imperial status by
the British Government, and she assumed the title Empress of India.
She was thus the Queen-Empress, and her successors, until George VI,
were known as King-Emperors. This title was the shortened form of the
full title, and in widespread popular use.
The reigning King-Emperors or Queen-Empress used the initials R I (Rex
Imperator or Regina Imperatrix) or the abbreviation Ind. Imp. (Indiae
Imperator/Imperatrix) after their name (while the one reigning
Queen-Empress, Victoria, used the initials R I, the three consorts of
the married King-Emperors simply used R).
British coins, and those of the British
Empire and Commonwealth
dominions, routinely included some variation of the titles Rex Ind.
Imp., although in India itself the coins said "Empress", and later
King Emperor." When, in August 1947, India became independent, all
dies had to be changed to remove the latter two abbreviations, in some
cases taking up to a year. In Great Britain, coins of George VI
carried the title up to 1948.
Another use of this dual title was when, in 1867, the multi-national
Austrian Empire, which was German-ruled and facing growing
nationalism, undertook a reform that gave nominal and factual rights
to Hungarian nobility. This reform revived the Austrian-annexed
Kingdom of Hungary, and therefore created the dual-monarchic union
Austria-Hungary and the dual title of "emperor-king" (in
German Kaiser und König).
Habsburg dynasty therefore ruled as
Emperors of Austria
Emperors of Austria over the
western and northern half of the
Empire (Cisleithania), and as Kings
Hungary over the Kingdom of
Hungary and much of Transleithania.
Hungary enjoyed some degree of self-government and representation in
joint affairs (principally foreign relations and defence). The
federation bore the full name of "The Kingdoms and Lands Represented
in the Imperial Council and the Lands of the Crown of St. Stephen".
In the Italian colonial empire
In 1936, with the Italian conquest of Ethiopia, Victor Emmanuel III
Emperor of Ethiopia. Thus he became King-
Italian Re Imperatore), i.e.,
King of Italy and
Emperor of Ethiopia,
because conquered Ethiopia was then an Empire. In the following years
foreign countries recognized the Italian rule in Ethiopia (UK in
Emperor was represented by the Viceroy, who was also
Italian East Africa
Italian East Africa (AOI - Africa
Orientale Italiana). The capital city of the Viceroy and
Governor-General was Addis Ababa.
The Serbian emperor
Stefan Dušan (r. 1346–55), earlier king
(1331–45), is attested with the title "
Emperor of Greece and
All Serb Lands and the Maritime" in a document dating to between
1347–56 (see also
Emperor of the Serbs). Dušan has been
described as a "king-emperor".
Empire was also ruled by a King-Emperor, as the German
Emperor was also
King of Prussia.
The Holy Roman Emperors were also Kings of Italy, Germany and Burgundy
for most of the time that title existed. They were also Kings of
France, Spain, Rome, Sicily, Naples, Bohemia and Jerusalem (see King
of Jerusalem) at other times.
Emperor Napoléon I of the French was also
King of Italy. His title
was shortened in "Emperor-King" (Empereur-Roi or l'Empereur et Roi)
rather than "King-Emperor".
John VI of Portugal
John VI of Portugal was made titular
Emperor of Brazil alongside being
King of Portugal and was titled as King-
Emperor until his death. After
John VI's death, his son Pedro briefly acceded him as
King of Portugal
while reigning as
Emperor of Brazil.
Kaiserlich und königlich
^ Miklošič, Franc (1858). Monumenta serbica spectantia historiam
Serbiae, Bosnae, Ragusii ed: Fr. apud Guilelmum Braumüller.
^ James Evans (30 July 2008).
Great Britain and the Creation of
Yugoslavia: Negotiating Balkan Nationality and Identity. I.B.Tauris.
p. 81. ISBN 978-0-85771-307-0.