In many countries you need to be at least 16 years old to smoke, 17 to drive and 18 or 21 to drink alcohol. However, age seems to be no barrier to ruling a country. History is dotted with monarchs who have assumed the throne of their country despite sometimes not even being old enough to watch a Disney movie without an adult. These child kings and queens are figureheads assisted by advisers and chancellors, but nevertheless a number of pre-pubescent monarchs have made a major impact on the world. We have picked out the five most interesting below.
Tutankhamun: 1341-1323 BCE.
Age when crowned: 9
The most famous child monarch in the world is the 11th Pharoah of the 18th Egyptian dynasty Tutankhamun. Following the death of his unpopular father Akhenaton in 1333 BCE, Tutankhamun became the ruler of the foremost empire of the day before his tenth birthday. He was only pharoah for nine years before his death, upon which he was entombed in the pyramid made famous by Howard Carter’s ill-fated 1922 expedition to Egypt. During his short reign, Tutankhamun moved the capital of Egypt back to Memphis as well as returning monuments damaged by his father to their former glories.
King Oyo of Toro: 1992-present
Age when crowned: 3
Oyo Nyimba Kabamba Iguru Rukidi IV can add the accolade of the current youngest reigning monarch to his title King Oyo of Toro, a kingdom in Uganda. At the tender age of three years old, Oyo assumed the throne as his father, King Patrick, was on his deathbed. The coronation ceremony didn’t go entirely to plan, however, as the toddler held a toy car throughout, slid off the throne, cried and sought out his mum in the crowd. Things have gone a lot more smoothly since, and the now-23-year-old king has matured into a respected leader of more than 1.5 million people.
Henry VI: 1421-71
Age when crowned: 8 months
Having been born in December 1421, Henry Lancaster inherited the English throne from Henry V in September 1422 as well as that of France two months later. He was formally crowned King of England and France in 1429 and 1431 respectively, before assuming total control at the age of 15. He lost France to a Joan of Arc-inspired revolution in 1450 and then went insane in 1453, allowing Richard of York to take control. This prompted the War of the Roses, and although he regained the throne in 1470, he lost the throne to Edward V and was murdered in 1471.
Alfonso XIII of Spain 1886-1941
Age when crowned: 16
In 1885, the royal house of Spain was in chaos. King Alfonso XII had died and his heir was still six months from being born. On 17 May 1886, Alfonso XIII was born but wasn’t able to officially take the crown until his 16th birthday, his mother ruling while he gained his education. His coronation took place amid political turmoil and the teenage king had to deal with eight prime ministers in four years. Alfonso was forced to set up a military dictatorship, which led to rebellions, the Spanish Civil War, his own exile and the reign of General Franco.
Mary Queen of Scots 1542-87
Age when crowned: 6 days
Mary became queen of Scotland at just six days old when her father, James V, died. She was sneaked off to France where she married the Dauphin of France. She is famous for being the rival to Queen Elizabeth I, as many Roman Catholics thought Mary should be on the throne of England instead, believing Henry VIII’s marriage to Elizabeth’s mother Anne Boleyn to be invalid. She was beheaded on the orders of Queen Elizabeth following a succession of ill-advised marriages, a 19-year incarceration and a number of failed plots to kill Elizabeth on her behalf.
Written by Jamie Frier