Monarchies might seem outdated, but that hasn’t stopped numerous royal families around the world from continuing their line. Everyone knows about the British Royal Family and other European monarchies, but did you know that Asia has more monarchs than any other continent?
The history of this side of the world is rich with stories of the rise and fall of great dynasties. To this day, there are still 13 Kings, Emperors, and Emirs in power in Asia, not including the smaller constituent monarchies and regional sultanates. Unlike their European counterparts, Asian monarchies are less lenient when it comes to the prospect of letting a woman inherit the throne, with the current list of monarchs being all male.
Here are the 13 monarchs from the royal families of Asia that are still in power:
1. Emperor Naruhito of Japan
Naruhito comes from the oldest royal line in history as Japan has lived under one royal family’s reign, the Yamato Dynasty, since 660 BC. The royal family is believed to be descended from the Shinto sun goddess, Amaterasu-omikami.
2. King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck of Bhutan
Under King Jigme, Bhutan fully transitioned to a constitutional monarchy. He’s been called the Elvis of Asia due to his haircut, and is immensely popular with the people. At only 39, the Dragon King is currently one of the youngest monarchs in power in the world.
3. King Vajiralongkorn (Rama X) of Thailand
The royal family of Thailand is famous for having the largest amount of wealth for a reigning monarchy. Their wealth is attributed largely to their vast amounts of properties across the country. The King’s net worth is said to be $30 billion, greater than any other monarch in the world.
4. Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei Darussalam
At 73, the Sultan is currently the second longest-reigning monarch in the world, just after Queen Elizabeth II. He became Sultan at only 21 when his father abdicated in 1967. His net worth is estimated to be $20 billion, making him the second richest monarch in the world.
5. King Norodom Sihamoni of the Kingdom of Cambodia
The unmarried King has had an adventurous life. After spending most of his youth in the former Czechoslovakia, he studied filmmaking in North Korea and even taught ballet in France. His coronation was a humble affair as the King and his parents requested that it not be lavish due to the impoverished state of the nation.
6. Yang Di-Pertuan Agong Abdullah of Pahang/Malaysia
Malaysia is one of the few countries that elects its monarchs. The head of state is elected to a five-year term by the Conference of Rulers, who are made of nine rulers from the Malay states. Abdulla was elected in 2019, and will serve Malaysia as its head of state until 2024 until the title is given to another ruler of the Malay states.
7. King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein of Jordan
Abdullah hails from the Hashemite royal family, which claims to be descended from the prophet Muhammad through his daughter Fatimah. Prior to becoming King, Abdullah was a fan of skydiving, motorcycling, and other extreme sports, but since becoming King, he’s been forbidden from skydiving.
8. King Hamad bin Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa of Bahrain
This 69-year-old King has been in power since 1999, and is surprisingly, the first official King of Bahrain. The Bahraini head of state was formerly called Hakim, until this was changed to Emir. In 2002, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa declared Bahrain a kingdom and became the first official King in Bahraini history.
9. Sheikh Sabah IV Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah of Kuwait
At 90 years old, he’s the oldest ruling monarch in Asia. Like other monarchies in the Middle East, the Emir of Kuwait is elected by a royal family council. Al-Sabah was the fourth, not the first, son of the previous Emir.
10. Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said of Oman
The Sultan is currently the longest-serving leader in the Arab world. In 2017, it was revealed that he was suffering from cancer. Earlier this month, it was reported that his cancer is now terminal and he has since returned to Oman to die in his own country. It’s said he has written a secret letter with the name of his successor.
11. Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani of Qatar
At 39, he’s currently the youngest sovereign in the world. The Emir is also the first ruler in 40 years to succeed the throne without resulting in a coup. He’s said to be the ninth richest royal in the world with a net worth of $1.2 billion.
12. King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia
Al Saud has been the country’s monarch since 2015 when his half-brother Abdullah died of pneumonia. Due to his age, his son, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, has been ruling the country in his stead. Al Saud is said to have a net worth of $18 billion, making him the third richest royal in the world.
13. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates
Like other Middle Eastern monarchies, the United Arab Emirates elects its monarch from the seven current Emirs of the UAE (Abu Dhabi, Dubai, etc.). The monarch is usually the Emir of Abu Dhabi, where Al Nahyan also rules. His net worth is said to be $15 billion.
This story originally appeared on Esquiremag.ph.
* Minor edits have been made by the Preview.ph editors.