The Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland for over six decades, Queen Victoria reigned for longer than any of her predecessors. Her rule witnessed the vast expansion of the British Empire and ushered in a period of industrial, cultural, political, scientific, and military changes. Her Golden and Diamond Jubilees were celebrated with great pomp and show.
Vladimir Lenin played a key role in the history of Russian politics by developing a political ideology called Leninism. During and after his lifetime, Lenin had a massive influence over international communist movement. He is widely regarded as one of the most influential and significant personalities of the 20th century.
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi served as the last king of Iran from 1941 to 1979. During his reign, Iran witnessed rapid military and industrial modernization and several social and economic reforms. During his rule, Iran also enjoyed a spike in economic growth, surpassing France, England, and the US. However, the Iranian Revolution, which was unusual in many ways, overthrew the king.
Haile Selassie, served his country, Ethiopia, as its regent from 1916 to 1930 and as its emperor from 1930 to 1974. He introduced the first Ethiopian constitution, abolished slavery, chaired the Organisation of African Unity, and helped Ethiopia enter the UN. He inspired the Rastafari movement, too.
Queen Rania of Jordan is the current queen consort of Jordan. Since her marriage to Abdullah II of Jordan, Rania has focused on improving education and health in Jordan. In 2005, Queen Rania joined hands with the Ministry of Education to launch the Queen Rania Award for Excellence in Education, an annual teachers’ award.
King Hussein of Jordan reigned as the king of Jordan from 1952 to 1999. As a royal member of the House of Hashim, Hussein was a direct descendant of Prophet Muhammad. At the time of Hussein's accession, Jordan was a young nation with few natural resources. However, by the end of his reign, Jordan had become a stable, modern state.
Emperor Meiji of Japan presided over the all-round revolutionary transformation of his empire which emerged as a strong force on the global scene during his reign. His policies and actions led to Japan’s rapid growth and ended its isolation from the rest of the world. One of the noted changes during rule was the abolition of special privileges of samurais.
Bhumibol Adulyadej of the Chakri dynasty reigned as the ninth monarch of Thailand. Reigning from 1946 until his death in 2016, Adulyadej is the second-longest reigning monarch in the history. During his reign, Bhumibol Adulyadej retained enormous constitutional powers and was extremely popular among his subjects, with some even seeing him as close to divine.
Puyi served as the final emperor of China's last imperial dynasty, The Qing dynasty. After Manchuria was invaded by Japan, Puyi became a puppet at the hands of the Japanese and was chosen as the emperor of the puppet state of Manchukuo. He then signed many edicts, given to him by the Japanese, including the one that made slavery legal.
George I of Greece reigned as the king of Greece from 1863 until his murder in 1913. During his reign of nearly 50 years, which is the longest in the history of modern Greece, George helped expand Greece's territory significantly. During his reign, Greece also became increasingly prosperous and attained a popular place on the European stage.
Faisal of Saudi Arabia was King of Saudi Arabia from 1964 to 1975. He was the son of King Abdulaziz and his wife, Tarfa. During his father’s reign, he was given numerous responsibilities of political significance. After coming to power, he implemented a series of modern reforms and issued a decree for the total abolition of slavery.
Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck is Druk Gyalpo or "Dragon King" of the Kingdom of Bhutan. He is the son of Jigme Singye Wangchuck, who abdicated the throne in his favor in 2006. As the king, he began overseeing the democratization of Bhutan and has implemented several reforms to improve the standard of living in his country.
Olav V of Norway served as the king of Norway from 1957 to 1991. Olav became heir apparent to the throne in 1905 when his father was crowned king of Norway. His leadership skills during World War II earned him the position of Norwegian Chief of Defence in 1944. Nicknamed The People's King, Olav was popular for his down-to-earth style.
Emperor Taishō was the 123rd Emperor of Japan. He was the son of Emperor Meiji and Yanagihara Naruko, a concubine. As the eldest living son of the emperor, he was formally named the crown prince in 1888. Upon the death of his father in 1912, he ascended the throne. A sickly man with disabilities, he died at 47.
19 George VI
Christian IX of Denmark was King of Denmark from 1863 to 1906, having claimed the throne following the death of King Frederick VII. During his early reign, the Danish saw defeat in the Second Schleswig War and lost several duchies. Recovering from a tumultuous start, he reigned over his nation for several years and was respected by his people.
27 Mehmed VI
Mehmed VI was the last Sultan of the famous Ottoman Empire. He reigned from 1918 to 1922 before the empire was dissolved, making way for the creation of the Republic of Turkey. Apart from ruling the Ottoman Empire, Mehmed VI also enjoyed music, calligraphy, and writing poems. In 1922, he stepped down, enabling the abolition of the Ottoman Sultanate.
30 Mary of Teck
The queen consort of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions from 1910 to 1936, Mary of Teck was the wife of King George V. She supported her husband through the First World War and in the aftermath of the war. She became the queen mother after her son ascended to the throne. She died in 1953.
Albert I of Belgium ruled as King of the Belgians for over 25 years from 1909 to 1934. He played a crucial role during World War I, for which he is often referred to as the Soldier King or Knight King in Belgium. A renowned alpinist, Albert died in a mountaineering accident and his death was mourned around the world.
32 George V
George V became the King of Great Britain and the British Dominions in 1910. During the World War I, he played an active role in supporting the troops. The rise of socialism, communism, fascism and the Indian independence movement was witnessed during his rule. His reign also saw the supremacy of the elected British House of Commons established by the Parliament.
Daughter of King Edward VII of Norway, Maud of Wales, was known for being a tomboy and had even been nicknamed Harry, after a valiant admiral. She married Prince Carl of Denmark. After Carl took over as King Haakon VII of Norway, Maud became the queen of Norway, too.
Umberto II, the only son of King Victor Emmanuel III, was the last king of Italy and ruled for just 34 days, from May 9 to June 12, 1946, and then went into exile. Also known as Re di Maggio, he was the de facto head of state since 1944.
Isabella II was the queen of Spain from 1833 until 1868. She took to the throne shortly before turning 3, according to a Pragmatic Sanction issued by her father before her birth. Her uncles’ resistance caused the Carlist Wars. Spain became a constitutional monarchy under her mother’s regency.
Belgian king Leopold III was despised by his countrymen for surrendering Belgium to the Germans during World War II. After being imprisoned by the Germans near Brussels, he went to Austria, and went back to Belgium later, only to be faced by a civil war that forced him to abdicate.
Chulalongkorn reigned as the king of Siam from 1868 until his death in 1910. Nicknamed the Royal Buddha, Chulalongkorn's reign witnessed the modernization of Siam; several social and governmental reforms marked his reign. Since the reforms ensured Siam's survival despite Western colonialism, Chulalongkorn earned the title, the Great Beloved King.
40 Mehmed V
Mehmed V was the 35th and penultimate Ottoman Sultan who reigned from 1909 to 1918. One of the sons of Sultan Abdulmejid I, he succeeded his brother Abdul Hamid II after the Young Turk revolution. His reign was marked by the loss of the empire’s many territories and witnessed the Ottoman Empire’s entry into World War I.
Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, the only child of the King William III and his second wife, Emma of Waldeck and Pyrmont, became queen at age 10. While she remained neutral during World War I, she went into exile to England during World War II. Her autobiography revealed her religious devotion.
42 Christian X
Alexander I of Yugoslavia reigned as the king of Yugoslavia from 1921 until his death in 1934. During a state visit to France, Alexander was murdered by Bulgarian Vlado Chernozemski. The assassination inspired the opening of Christopher Hyde's book, The Second Assassin. Alexander's life and career inspired a TV series titled Alexander of Yugoslavia.
Norodom Sihamoni has had an interesting childhood, from studying in Czechoslovakia to joining a film school in North Korea, to moving to China after the fall of Pol Pot. A skilled choreographer who had his own dance troupe in Paris, he later rather reluctantly became the king of Cambodia.
George II of Greece was the King of Greece for two terms, from 1922 to 1924 and from 1935 to 1947. He was the eldest son of King Constantine I and his wife, Sophia of Prussia. He reigned during a tumultuous time in Greek history. Upon his death, he was succeeded by his younger brother, Paul.