11 Monarchs Crowned While They Were in Diapers
Babies sure are cute. But do they make good world leaders? Here's a peek at some of history’s youngest rulers and their reigns.
1. King Oyo // Toro Kingdom, Uganda
In 1995, Oyo became the youngest monarch in the world; he was 3 years old. When the coronation ceremony began, the toddler slid off the throne, ran away, and hid in his mother's lap. Nowadays, he sits more comfortably. He rules the Toro Kingdom, a southwestern part of Uganda that 2 million people call home. The now-27-year-old oversees a cabinet and mainly oversees cultural duties.
2. Emperor Puyi // China
China's last emperor was one of its youngest: In 1908, Puyi became emperor at 2 years old. When the crowning ceremony began, Puyi, who was chosen had to be carried to the throne by his father. The king-to-be was scared, and he kicked, clawed, and cried the entire time. When Puyi was 6 years old, a revolution erupted and the Chinese dynasty crumbled.
3. Pōmare III // Tahiti
Some babies shake rattles. Others shake up politics. Pōmare III did both: he became King of Tahiti in 1821 at 17 months. His mother acted as his regent, but the little king didn't last. He died at the age of 5 from an unknown disease and was succeeded by his 14-year-old sister, who ruled for the next 50 years.
4. Henry VI // England
Henry VI was the bouncing baby king of not one, but two countries. In 1422, an 8-month-old Henry became England's youngest king. Two months later, he became king of France, but he didn't keep the latter title for long. By 1429, Joan of Arc had helped the French take the country back. England eventually lost the Hundred Years' War, and Henry literally went insane. When he recovered, the War of the Roses erupted, and Henry landed on the losing side again. When he was 43, Henry was locked away in the Tower of London, where he eventually died.
5. Sobhuza II // Swaziland
Sobhuza II became King of Swaziland before he could take his first step: the tyke was crowned when he was 4 months old. He'd keep the job for 82 years. Sobhuza II saw Swaziland gain its independence from Britain in 1968. That same year, he helped write a constitution, which he ditched in 1973. He became an absolute ruler and left behind almost 70 wives when he died.
6. Emperor Shang of Han // China
Shang of Han became Emperor of China in 105 C.E. when he was barely 100 days old, but he only ruled for one year before his 12-year-old cousin took over.
7. Tsar Ivan VI // Russia
When he was 2 months old, Ivan VI was crowned Tsar of Russia. And it was all downhill from there. Ivan and his regents held power for just one year before Elizaveta Petrovna deposed them in 1741. Ivan spent 20 years in solitary confinement, moving from fortress to fortress. When Ivan was 23, he was murdered by his jail guards.
8. Mary, Queen of Scots // Scotland
Mary's reign was sandwiched between two baby Kings. Her father, James, was 17 months old when he was crowned King. Her son, also James, was 13 months old when he became the Scottish ruler. Mary, however, beat them both: She became Queen of Scotland when she was 6 days old. Unfortunately, she was forced to hand over the Scottish crown to her son when she was only 25.
9. John I // France
John I became King of France the day he was born (his father had died four months earlier, in July 1316). Unfortunately, John’s reign was one of the shortest in history: he died five days later. His Uncle Philip, who served as regent, took over the throne. Some suspect that Philip poisoned the infant king.
10. Alfonso XIII // Spain
Alfonso XIII was born May 17, 1886. That same day, he became Spain’s King. Despite having his entire childhood to practice, Alfonso never became a good ruler. During his reign, Spain lost its last colonies, it became overrun by a military dictator, and the monarchy dissolved. Alfonso abdicated his rights to the crown in 1941 after Francisco Franco assumed control.
11. Shah Shapur II // Sassanid Empire
Legend has it that in year 309, Persian nobles placed a crown upon the belly of King Hormizd II’s widow. Inside was history’s first fetal king: Shah Shapur II. The in utero ruler was the ninth leader of the Sassanid Empire, a powerful Persian kingdom covering modern Iran. Shapur II ruled for 70 years. In the late 4th century, he successfully ousted Christianity from the Middle East.