Worldwide Guide to Women in Leadership

Royal Deputy Heads of State
in the 20th and 21st Century

In many monarchies the monarch has to appoint a relative whenever she or he is absent from the country. This in effect have made a number of royal ladies deputy heads of state. They are listed below. See also Reigning Queens and Empresses


1897-1916 HM Somdetch Phra Nang Chao Saovabha Phongsri Phra Baromma Rajini Nath Sri Bajarindra of Thailand
Born as HRH Princess Saovabha Phongrsi as daughter of King Mongkut (Rama IV). She and two other sisters married their half-brother, King Chulalongkorn (Rama V). In 1895 her son, Maha Vajiravudh became crown-prince of Thailand and she was appointed Queen Regent (Rajini Nath) on 21 of March 1897, acting as regent on various occasions when the king was abroad. She had 9 children and lived (1864-1916)

1906-10 De facto Regent HIM Empress Taytu Betul of Ethiopia
Crowned Queen of Shewa in 1883. Itegé is the title of the Empress-Consort. She acted as regent during her husband, Emperor Menilek II's illness. She was very powerful, but still obtained her husband's authorization for her decisions. She was removed by a coup d'etat in 1910. Born as Walata Mikáel, she lived (1853-1918)

1915-17 HIM Imperatitsa Alexandra Fyodorovna of the Russian Empire
The Czarina was de-facto in charge of the government business during her husband, Zar/Emperor Nicolai’s time as commander-in-chief during World War I. But she obtained his endorsement of her decisions. In 1918 the whole family - including the four daughters and son were executed during the revolution. She was born as Princess Alix von Hessen und beim Rhein and lived (1872-1918)

1921-25 Joint-Head of State Indlovukazi Labotsibeni Gwamile Ndluli laMvelase of Swaziland (10.12-22.12)
Regent 1899-1921 until the installation of her grand-son, Sobhuza II, as king in 1921, but remained deputy head of state until her death. (Died 1925)

1925-38 Joint Head of State The Ndlovukati Lomawa Nxumalo Ndwandwe, Swaziland

Ndlovukati means Queen Mother, The Great She-elephant. She was the mother of King Sobhuza II, and lived (1878-1938).

1928-29 and 1936 Counsellor of State HM Queen Mary of Teck of  the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
One of 6 Counselors of State appointed during the illness of her husband, King Georges V of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Emperor of India, Defender of Faith, at the 4th of December 1928. It is not clear for how long, but the king was ill until the summer of 1929, the soon experienced a backlash until sometime in the beginning of 1930. She has been named possible regent by an act of parliament in 1910. Mary was born as Princess of Teck and lived (1867-1953).

1937-52 Counsellor of State HM Queen Elizabeth of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
1953-54 Senior Counsellor of State 
1954-2002 Counsellor of State  (HM The Queen Mother)
First appointed Counsellor of State during the visit abroad of her husband, King George VI (1895-1936-52) in 1943 and again acted in 1944, 1951, 1953, 1957, 1963 and at least once a year for the rest of her life. She acted Senior Counsellor of State during her daughter, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip's world tour. She later acted as Counsellor of State on many occasions since. Born as Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, she lived (1900-2002).

1937-57 Counsellor of State HRH The Princess Royal, Princess Mary of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Countess of Harewood
Acted as ruling Counsellor in 1939, 1943, 1944, 1947, 1951, 1951, 1956 and 1957. She was the daughter of George V and married to the 6th Earl of Harewood, Henry Lascelles. During King George VI's, Queen Elizabeth's, Princess Elizabeth's and Princess Margaret's visit to South Africa in 1947, she was appointed as one of the Counsellors of State - joint regents. She was mother of two sons, and lived (1897-1965)

1937-44 Counsellor of State HRH The Duchess of Fife, Princess Alexandra Duff of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Appoited as ruling Counsellor in 1939, 1943, 1944 Alexandra Duff, daughter of Princess Louise, The Princess Royal and 1st. Duke of Fife, Earl MacDuff and Chief of the Clan of Fife, was created a Princess in 1905 together with her sister, Princess Maud. Alexandra was married to her cousin HRH The Duke of Connaught, Prince Arthur, former Governor-General of South Africa. He died in 1942, their son was killed in 1942 and she was succeeded by her sister's son. She lived (1891-1957)

1938-57 Joint Head of State The Ndlovukati Nukwase Nxumalo Ndwandwe, Swaziland
Married to one of king Sobhuza II's 12 uncles, Prince Malunge Dlamini (1877-1915). She lived (1880-1957) 

1942-44 Counsellor of State HH Princess Maud Duff of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Countess of Southeask
Princess Maude only acted as ruling Counsellor once in 1943. She was the younger daughter of The Princess Royal and the Duke of Fife, and was married to the 11th Earl of Southeask (1893-1992). Her only son, James Carnagie, succeeded her sister as 3rd Duke of Fife. Maude was appointed as one of the Counsellors of State during king George VI's visit to Africa, and lived (1893-1945)

1944-42 Counsellor of State HRH Princess Elizabeth of United Kingdom and Great Britain and Northern Ireland
One of the regents in 1944 during her father, Georg VI's stay abroad and again in 1951. Upon his death in 1952 she succeeded him as Elizabeth II, by the Grace of God of United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Defender of the Faith, Head of the Commonwealth. (b. 1926-)

1946-68 Deputy Seigneur Jehanne Beaumont Bell of Sark
The youngest of Dame Sibyl Hathaway's six children, Jehanne was appointed to act as her substitute during her absence in 1946. In 1947 she was elected Deputy of the People on Chief Pleas. She married in 1948. She retired from the post of Deputy Seigneur in 1968 due to ill health, but continued to take an interest in Sark's affairs, advising the present Seigneur when he succeeded on the death of La Dame in 1974, until her death. She lived (1919-88).

1950-circa 95 Temporary Royal Regent HRH The Princess Mother, Somdet Phra Srinagarindra Boromarajajonani of Thailand
Sangwalya Chrukamol was born as the daughter of a gold-smith. She was married to Prince Mahidol of Songkhla, son of king Chulalongkorn Rama V (1868-1910) by one of his 92 wifes. She was mother of King Anadan Mahidol Rama VIII (1925-35-46) and of King Bhumibol Adulyadej Rama IX (1927-46). She acted as regent on nine different occasions during Bhumibols reign. She lived (2443-2538 or 1900-95)

1951-85 Counsellor of State HRH Princess Margaret of United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
As the younger sister of Queen Elizabeth II, she acted as Counsellor of State about once a year until her youngest nephew, Prince Edward, turned 21. Among others Special Representative of the Queen to the Independence Celebrations of Jamaica in 1962, Domenica and Tuvalu 1978 and of Antigua and Barbuda and of Saint Christopher and Nevis in 1980. Divorced from Anthony Armstrong-Jones, who was created 1st Earl of Snowdon, and mother of two children. She lived (1930-2002)

1956- HM Somdetch Pra Nang Chao Sirikit Phra Baromma Rajini Nath of Thailand (22.10-07.12)
Her title is also spelled Pomdej Phra Nangchao Sirikit Phra Boromarajininat (สมเด็จพระนางเจ้าสิริกิติ์ พระบรมราชินีนาถ), and she took the oath before Parliament as regent before the National Assembly, as her husband, King Bhumibol undertook a period of service as a Buddhist monk and was afterwards given the title of Queen Regent. She was born as H.H. Princess Mom Rajawong Sikrit Kitiyakara - as a distant member of the royal family. Mother of a son and three daughters. (b. 1932)

1957-75 Joint Head of State The Ndlovukati Zihlathi Ndwandwe of Swaziland
Senior wife of King Sobhuza II. 

1957-62/80 Counsellor of State HRH Princess Alexandra of Kent, of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland
The daughter of Queen Elizabeth's late cousin, the Duke of Kent, she acted as Counsellor of State during the minority of the closest heirs to the throne, and among others special representative of the Queen at the independence Celebrations of Nigeria in 1960 and Saint Lucia 1979. Widow of Sir Angus Ogilvy (1928-2004), and mother of two children. (b. 1936-)

1958-72 Deputy Head of State, HRH The Thronefollower, Princess Margrethe of Denmark
At her 18th birthday Princess Margrethe became a member of the Council of State, signed a declaration that she would follow the constitution, and acted as regent in the absence of her father, King Frederik 9, until his death in 1972, when she succeeded him as Queen Margrethe II. (b. 1940-)

1965- Temporary Rigsforstander HRH Princess Benedikte of Denmark
Became a member of the Council of State by the age of 21 and has acted as regent (Rigsforstander) first in the place of her father and then for her sister, Queen Margrethe 2, whey they were abroad - alternating with Crown Prince Frederik and Prince Joachim of Denmark, since they came of age. Princess Benedikte is married to HH Prince Richard zu Sayn- Wittgenstein-Berleburg and lives in Germany. Mother of 3 children. (b. 1944-)

1965- Temporary Regent H.M.Queen Halaevalu Mata’aho of Tonga
1998 (8.5-14.5) Queen Regnant
1999 (-30.4-) Queen Regnant
.........
Has acted as regent on several occasions trough the reign of her husband king Taf’ahau Toupu IV (1918-65-2006), when he was aboard. Born as Princess Halaevalu Mata'aho Ahomee. (b. 1926-)

1966-2003  The Mofumahali HM Queen ‘MaMohato Thabita 'Masente Lerotholi Mojela of Lesotho 
In 1970 she was the regent for her son who was  installed as king in place of her husband, King Moshoeshoe II, who was deposed during military coup d'etats in 1970 and 1990 and killed in a car-crash, and she took over the regency until her son was re-installed as king David Mahato 
Berng Seeiso Letsie III. He was also king 1970 and 1988-90. From 1996 she was known as Queen Mother Mamohato II.
She continued as Deputy Head of State until 2001, when she retired from the duty, though she continued to be of aid and be a guide to her son and daughter-in-law, the King and Queen until her death. She lived (1938-2003).

1971-2003 Counsellor of State HRH The Princess Royal, Princess Anne of United Kingdom and Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Acted as ruling Counsellor about once a year until her nephew, Prince William of Wales, turned 21. 1996 she was Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland  as her mother's personal representative, 1999 she was appointed to the ceremonial position of Golden Stick in Waiting. Only daughter of Queen Elizabeth, married twice and mother of two children. (b. 1950-)

1972-2000 Temporary Rigsforstander HM Queen Ingrid of Denmark
As the first Dowager Queen ever she became member of the Council of State and able to act as regent when her daughter, Queen Margrethe was abroad. After her grand-children Crown Prince Frederik and Prince Joachim came of age, she was not regent so often, but she continued to act as regent when both her two daughters and the princes were abroad. Queen Ingrid was born as Princess of Sweden and married Crown Prince Frederik in 1935. He was king (1947-72). She lived  (1910-2000)

1975-81 Joint Head of State The Ndlovukati Seneleleni Ndwandwe of Swaziland

Married to King Sobhuza II. 

1977-  HRH the Royal Princess, Somdetceh Phra Debaratanarajasuda Chao Fa Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand (5.12-)
Second daughter of King Bhumibol Adulyadej Rama IX. Has acted as regent on several occasions - in 1997 for example she averted a military coup d’etat during her fathers illness. She is one of his closest advisors. In 1996 she was appointed General, Admiral and Air Chief-Marshall. Her full title is Somdej Phra Debratanarajasuda Chao Fa Chakri Sirindhorn Rathasimagunakornpiyajat Sayamboromrajakumri (or Som det phra thep phra rat raat cha su daa Chao fa Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Ratha si ma ku na korn pi ya chat Siam ba rom ma raat cha ku maa ree (สมเด็จพระเทพรัตนราชสุดา เจ้าฟ้ามหาจักรีสิรินธร รัฐสีมาคุณากรปิยชาติ สยามบรมราชกุมารี)). (b. 1955-)

1981-85 Queen Mother Indlovukazi Dzeliwe 
Shongwe of Swaziland 
Senior wife of King Sobhuza II, and Queen Mother (The Indovukazi,  the Great She-Elephant)  1981-85 
until the title was removed from her. She had been regent 
of the Kingdom 1982-84.  (b. circa 1927-)

1986- Joint Head of State, Queen Mother, the
 Indovukazi   Ntombi laTfwala of Swaziland
Emakhosikati (Queen) Ntombi was one of the youngest 
wifes of Sobhuza II, and mother of the future king, and Queen Regent
1983-86. She got the title of Queen Mother 
Indlovukazi
in 1985.
As Queen Mother she was also 
co-Chairperson of the Swazi National Council the Libandla, 
together with the king.
(b. circa 1950-) 

1988 Princess Regent HRH Princess Salote Mafile'o Pilolevu Tuita of Tonga (August)
.......
1998 Princess Regent (January)
1999 Princess Regent (July)
2001 Princess Regent (September-November)
......
2005 Princess Regent (August-September)
2006 Princess Regent (April)
2006 Princess Regent (May-June)
2007-08 (November-January)
2008 Princess Regent (May-June and November)
2009 Princess Regent (August, October)
2010 Princess Regent (October-November)
2011 Princess Regent (January-February)
As the only daughter of King Taf’ahau Toupu IV (1918-65-2006), Princess Pilolevu is traditionally the highest ranking person in Tonga (Higher than the king). She is also a business woman and was appointed regent for the first time in January 1998 during a period where both her parents and brother, the crown prince were absent from the country, and has acted on numerous occations since, in 2001 accepting the resignation of the Prime Minister and in June 2006 delivering the Speech from the Throne in the absence of her father, in May 2009 and January 2011 in the absence of her brother. Married to a second cousin and the mother of 4 daughters and an adopted son. (b. 1951-)

1992- Deputy Seigneur Miss Beatrice Caroline Bell, Sark (Dependency of the British Crown)
1988-2000 President of the Public Health, Sea Fisheries and Pilotage Committees. She was Member of Chief Pleas as tenant of L'Ecluse on the death of her mother, the former Deputy Seigneur Jehanne Bell. After she retired from the Chief Pleas 2002 she continues as Deputy Seigneur  sitting in Chief Pleas in the absence of the Seigneur.    

1997- Deputy Head of State, HRH Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden
Also Duchess of Västergötland. On her 18th birthday the 14th of June the crown Princess swore the oath on the constitution and was inaugurated as Deputy Head of State. (b. 1979-)

2000- Assistant Deputy Head of State HRH Princess Madeleine of Sweden
Also Duchess of Hälsingland och Gästrikland. She is the youngest child of  King Carl XVI Gustaf, and she acts as regent in the absence of her elder sister and brother, Prince Carl Philip (b. 1979). She is born (b. 1982-)

2001- Temporary Regent HM Queen Karabo Mohato Bereng Seeiso of Lesotho
At 16th of January she was sworn in for the first time as regent by the chief justice about a year after she married King Letsie III, and has acted regent and Deputy Head of State on various occasions since then. She continues her biology-studies by correspondence. (b. 1976-)

Last update 11.05.11