What are the longest (and shortest) reigns of monarchs ever?

Some monarchs, such as Queen Victoria, became known for the impressive lengths of their reigns, while others broke history with their speedy successions. Read on to discover the longest and shortest reigns in history. We’ve avoided the fascinating but disputed ‘reigns’ of some monarchs, such as Prince Luis Filipe of Portugal who was mortally wounded in the same assassination as his father and died 20 minutes after the king’s death.




  1. King Dipendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev – Nepal – 2001

Official reports state that Prince Dipendra killed nine members of his family, including his father and mother, the king and queen of Nepal in the Nepalese royal massacre. Dipendra wounded himself, but survived in a coma and was declared king from his hospital bed. He died shortly after, bringing his ill-gotten reign to less than 56 hours.


  1. Sultan Sayyid Khalid bin Barghash – Zanzibar – 1896

When the previous Sultan died Khalid seized power, which resulted in the shortest war in history, the 38-minute Anglo-Zanzibar War. Khalid ended up surrendering, so his reign lasted a total of two days.


  1. Emperor Modi – Jurchen Empire – 1234

Modi was crowned while the city of Caizhou was under siege by the Mongols. After Emperor Aizong committed suicide his son ascended the throne in a hasty coronation, but was killed in the ensuing battle, bringing his reign to just 12 hours.




  1. William IV – Henneberg-Schleusingen (Holy Roman Empire) – 1480 to 1559

When William III died his son was only five years old. William IV became ruler of the County of Henneberg within the Holy Roman Empire and reigned for a total of 78 years and 243 days.


  1. Bernhard VII – Lippe (Holy Roman Empire) – 1429 to 1511

Bernhard become lord of Lippe before his first birthday and despite being involved in many bloody feuds reigned for a massive 81 years and 234 days, making him the longest-reigning European monarch ever.


  1. Sobhuza II – Swaziland – 1899 to 1982

Sobhuza ascended the throne when he was only four months old and led the country through independence. With a reported 210 children, his reign is the longest of all time at 82 years and 254 days.


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