The longest reigning monarch in the world ever was Sobhuza II, King of Swaziland who reigned for 82 years and nine months. He managed to beat his closest competitor but just over a year. That is of course an insurmountable amount of time to spend as a head of state, spanning much longer than the average monarchs reign. If you really think about it for a minute, it even lasted longer than the life expectancy of many people. So how was it that king Sobhuza became the longest reigning monarch in the world ever? Did he live an extremely long life?
King Sobhuza did have a long life, but not much longer than the average expected life. Although it did contribute to him becoming the longest reigning monarch in the world, there is just as much reliance on the beginning of his reign for this record as there is on the end of it.
King Sobhuza started his reign as king of Swaziland in December 1899, when he was only five months old. Clearly that’s too young to rule, so his grandmother ruled as regent until he was 21. Although he may not have physically ruled for his first 21 years of his life and reign, he still ruled in his own right for a massive 60 years. When he finally ascended to the top job in 1921 in his own right he made up for lost time throughout the remainder of his reign.
In 1968 he led his country to a peaceful independence from Great Britain. The country became a constitutional monarchy, and he set about securing his position and power. He did this in 1973 by dissolving the tribal parliament and declaring himself absolute leader.
But being the longest reigning monarch in the world ever wasn’t his only legacy. Depending on your point of view he was either a gluten for punishment or an incredible frisky fellow. He lived a polygamous lifestyle, having 70 wives. I’m sorry, but one is more than enough for me. From these 70 marriages he had a sleep depriving 210 children, of which only 180 survived their infancy. Of all of his children, 97 are still alive today. He also had between 1920 and 1970 grandchildren.
While king Sobhuza hold the record officially, there are a couple of legendary monarchs who have reputedly ruled for a longer period of time. Pepi II Neferkare, Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt was said to have ruled his kingdom for 94 years. Not far behind him was Taejo, the monarch of Goguryeo in modern day Korea. He apparently ruled his kingdom for 93 years. While it is possible that these two men retained their thrones for such an extended period of time, the lack of reliable records means that there can be no certainty to the validity of the length of their reign.