While author Alan Bennett never specifically names the Queen in The Uncommon Reader, the main character bears an uncanny resemblance to the present head of the House of Windsor in Great Britain.
We began to wonder: what other countries are ruled by queens or other royalty? We found that apparently there are four dozen reigning monarchs in the world today. In addition to Great Britain, both Denmark and the Netherlands are ruled by queens.
Queen Margrethe II of Denmark was able to ascend to the throne in 1972 after the right of female succession was established about 20 years earlier. She is the Denmark’s first ruling queen since Margrethe I reigned in the late 14th and early 15th century.
Beatrix of the Netherlands became queen regnant in 1980 when her mother Queen Juliana abdicated in favor of her daughter. She has a son, Willem Alexander Claus, who is the first male heir to the throne since 1884.
In addition to these two ruling queens, there are a number of queen consorts who are married to ruling monarchs. Some of the others include Queen Paola of Belgium; Queen Rania of Jordon; Queen Silvia of Sweden; Queen Sirikit of Thailand; Queen Sofia of Spain; Queen Sonja of Norway; Queen ‘Masenate of Lesotho and Queen Sylvia of Buganda.
Want to know more about royal women — past and present — across the globe? You can browse these books:
The Warrior Queens by Antonia Fraser
Crowned in a Far Country: Portraits of Eight Royal Brides
by Princess Michael of Kent
100 Great Kings, Queens and Rulers of the World by John Canning
Toward the end of The Uncommon Reader, the Queen makes a fairly drastic decision about her reign and there is a debate in Great Britain today about the future of its monarchy. Do you think there is a role in the 21st century for symbolic kings and queens? Let us know.