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  • King Louis XIV of France

    Reign: 14 May 1643 – 1 September 1715. 72 years, 110 days

    Known variously as Louis the Great and the Sun King, King Louis XIV achieved a lot in his lengthy tenure on the throne, still unmatched by anyone who has come after him. He ruled as an absolute monarch, believing wholeheartedly in the divine right of kings, and helped to establish France as the leading European power of the era. Not only did he help to bring an end to feudalism, but he also cultivated court life at Versailles, surrounding himself with great philosophers, poets and writers of the period, including Racine, Moliere and La Fontaine. Such a long life does come with some drawbacks however: at the time of his death, he had outlived the vast majority of his heirs, and was succeeded by his great-grandson, Louis, Duke of Anjou.

  • King Bhumibol of Thailand

    Reign: 9 June 1947 – 13 October 2016. 70 years, 126 days

    Taking the second spot on the list of long-living royals is the father of Thailand’s current King. King Bhumibol the Great, as he was styled, was the ninth member of the Chakri dynasty to rule since the 18th century. He ascended to the throne quite by chance, after his elder brother, King Ananda Mahidol, died suddenly. He was studying in Switzerland at the time, switching his major to law and political science to better prepare himself for life as a world leader. He met his future wife, Sirikit, while there, with the two having a quiet wedding ceremony just days before his coronation. He was an extremely popular figure throughout his lifetime, and was also one of the wealthiest royals in the world, with Forbes putting his fortune at $30 billion.

  • Prince Johann II of Liechtenstein

    Reign: 12 November 1858 – 11 February 1929. 70 years, 91 days

    An altogether mysterious figure, Prince Johann II was antisocial, avoided public occasions and never married or had children. Despite this, he was considered to be a patron of the arts, and did much to add to the Liechtenstein Princely Collections during his reign.

  • Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom

    Reign: 6 February 1952 – present day. Currently 69 years, 79 days at time of publication

    Another monarch who was never supposed to ascend to the throne, Queen Elizabeth II was third in line at the time of her birth, being the eldest daughter of Prince Albert, Duke of York, who himself was the younger brother of the future King Edward VIII. However, following the abdication of her uncle, she became heir to the throne. The death of her father King George VI at the relatively young age of 56 meant that she became Queen when she was just 27. Throughout her long reign she has witnessed great societal changes yet has remained extremely popular to this day.

  • Franz Joseph I of Austria

    Reign: 2 December 1848 – 21 November 1916. 67 years, 355 days

    Franz Joseph I ruled over Austria, Hungary, Croatia and Bohemia during one of its most fraught periods, with regional nationalism leading to revolutions, wars and assassination attempts. His own life was a succession of personal tragedies, the most famous of which was the assassination of his nephew and heir-presumptive, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, whose death led to the First World War. His only son, Crown Prince Rudolf, committed murder-suicide alongside his lover Baroness Mary Vetsera as part of the infamous Mayerling Incident of 1889, an event that captivated the public and press of the time. Meanwhile his wife, Empress Elizabeth, who was said to not return Franz’s love for her, was stabbed to death by an Italian anarchist in 1898 – an event that Franz reportedly never got over.

  • King Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies

    Reign: 6 October 1759 – 4 January 1825. 65 years, 90 days

    If you want to get technical, Ferdinand was only King of the Two Sicilies from 1816-1825: prior to that, he had been Ferdinand IV of Naples and Ferdinand III of Sicily. He became King when he was just eight years old, but rather than being prepared for the role, his regency council instead neglected his education, indulging his idleness and love of the outdoors, in order that they could govern without him. He was an absolute monarch whose rule was punctuated by the humiliations of the Napoleonic Wars, in which both Naples and Sicily were invaded at different times. He was also the father of 17 children, though many died from smallpox, and is the founder of the House of Bourbon-Two Sicilies, which still exists today.

  • Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom

    Reign: 20 June 1837-22 January 1901. 63 years, 216 days

    One of our most famous monarchs, Queen Victoria’s reign ushered in momentous changes, from industrialisation to the expansion of the British Empire. The so-called ‘grandmother of Europe’, her marriage with her beloved Prince Albert produced nine children, all of whom went on to marry into royal families across the Continent, making many of them related to our House of Windsor today. Another monarch whose path to the throne was unexpected, she was the only child of the fourth son of the previous monarch, King George III. After the sudden death of her cousin, Princess Charlotte of Wales, Victoria’s unmarried father was spurred into action to produce a legitimate heir by the succession crisis, and thus he married Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld and Victoria was born.

  • King James I of Aragon

    Reign: 12 September 1213 – 27 July 1276. 62 years, 319 days.

    Remarkable for his long life considering the period in which he lived, King James I of Aragon is remembered for expanding his kingdom to include Languedoc, Valencia and the Balearic Islands, as well as for his help in developing the Catalan language through sponsored art and literature. Orphaned at the age of five, he was raised by the Knights Templar, and was the subject of various kidnap and assassination plots as a boy. By age 10, he had fought his first battle, and he was married at 13. Most curiously of all, he wrote a memoir of his life, offering rare insight into the mind of a medieval king.

  • Emperor Shōwa of Japan

    Reign: 25 December 1926 – 7 January 1989. 60 years, 114 days

    A sometimes controversial figure, Emperor Shōwa was the leader of Japan during World War II, yet he was not punished for war crimes following Japan’s surrender, though the leaders of other countries were. He oversaw the expansion of Japan’s imperial and military power in the lead up to World War II, and became the face of Japan’s recovery post-war. By the end of his reign, Japan had the second largest economy in the world.

  • Kangxi Emperor of China

    Reign: 5 February 1661 – 20 December 1722. 61 years, 318 days

    Considered to be one of the greatest emperors of China, Kangxi suppressed various rebellions and invasion threats, including from Tsarist Russia, and expanded his empire through forcing the Kingdom of Tungning in Taiwan to submit to his rule. Through this he established a long-term period of stability in the region, which came to be known as ‘High Qing’ (he was a member of the Qing dynasty). His reign was also noteworthy for its artistic output, with the completion of the Kangxi dictionary.

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