||This article needs additional citations for verification. (December 2011)|
- King regnant redirects here.
|Count / Earl|
A queen regnant (plural: queens regnant) is a female monarch who reigns in her own right, in contrast to a queen consort, who is the wife of a reigning king. An empress regnant is a female monarch who reigns in her own right over an empire.
A queen regnant possesses and exercises sovereign powers. The husband of a queen regnant does not usually share his wife's rank, title or sovereignty. A queen consort shares her husband's rank and titles, but does not share the sovereignty of her husband.
In Ancient Egypt, Pacific cultures, and European countries, as noted below, female monarchs have been given the title king or its equivalent, such as pharaoh, when gender is irrelevant to the office. Also the Byzantine Empress Irene sometimes called herself basileus (βασιλεύς), 'emperor', rather than basilissa (βασίλισσα), 'empress' and Jadwiga of Poland was crowned as Rex Poloniae, King of Poland.
Among the Davidic Monarchs of the Kingdom of Judah, there is mentioned a single queen regnant, Athaliah, though the Hebrew Bible regards her negatively as a usurper. The much later Hasmonean Queen Salome Alexandra (Shlom Tzion) was highly popular.
Technically a male king also may be a king regnant or a king consort—but this distinction is unusual and, for example, has been used only twice in the history of the British monarchy and its predecessor monarchies. In all current monarchies that allow a queen to take the throne, the husband of such a queen is not titled king, generally ranking as a prince. The husband of Queen Mary I of England and the first two husbands of Mary I of Scotland, were all created kings consort of their wives' realms. The husband of Mary II, Queen of England and Ireland, and Queen of Scots, was named king regnant co-sovereign with her, as William III and II. The latter arrangement was the only occasion of co-sovereignty in Britain.
Accession of a regnant occurs as a nation's order of succession permits. Methods of succession to queendoms, kingdoms, tribal chiefships, and such include nomination when the sitting monarch or a council names an heir, primogeniture when the children of a monarch or chief become regents in order of birth from eldest to youngest, and ultimogeniture when the children become regents 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 women only.
The most typical succession in European monarchies from the Late Middle Ages through most of the twentieth century was male-preference primogeniture; i.e., the order of succession cycled through the sons of the monarch in order of their birth, followed by the daughters or grandsons. Historically, many realms forbade succession by women or through a female line in obedience to the Salic law, and some still do. No queen regnant ever ruled France, for example. Only one woman, Maria Theresa, ruled Austria. As noted in the list below of widely-known ruling queens, many ruled in European monarchies.
In the waning days of the 20th century and early days of the 21st, Sweden, Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands and Denmark amended their acts of succession to absolute primogeniture. 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 16 Realms of the British Commonwealth agreed to remove the rule of male-preference primogeniture. Once the necessary legislation is passed, this means that should Prince William's first child be female, she might eventually become heir apparent and then queen regnant.1
In China, Wu Zetian became the Chinese empress regnant and established the Zhou Dynasty after dismissing her sons and becoming the Empress Regnant. Although the Chrysanthemum Throne of Japan is currently barred to women, this has not always been the case; throughout Japanese history there have been eight empresses regnant.
||Antigua and Barbuda||1 November 1981|
|Australia||6 February 1952|
|Bahamas||10 July 1973|
|Barbados||30 November 1966|
|Belize||21 September 1981|
|Canada||6 February 1952|
|Grenada||7 February 1974|
|Jamaica||6 August 1962|
|New Zealand||6 February 1952|
|Papua New Guinea||16 September 1975|
|Saint Kitts and Nevis||19 September 1983|
|Saint Lucia||22 February 1979|
|Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||27 October 1979|
|Solomon Islands||7 July 1978|
|Tuvalu||1 October 1978|
|United Kingdom||6 February 1952|
||Kingdom of Denmark: Denmark, Faroe Islands, Greenland||14 January 1972|
- Bloxham, Andy (28 October 2011). "Centuries-old rule of primogeniture in Royal Family scrapped". Telegraph (London). Retrieved 2011-12-31.
- Monter, William. The Rise of Female Kings in Europe, 1300-1800 (Yale University Press; 2012) 271 pages; studies 30 women who exercised full sovereign authority in Europe.