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Monarchs who abdicated in 21st century

May 19, 2017 18:15 IST

Japan's cabinet approved a bill on Friday that would allow Emperor Akihito to step down, paving the way for the first abdication by a Japanese emperor in nearly two centuries. Following is the list of monarchs who abdicated after 2000:

Juan Carlos I of Spain

IMAGE: Spain's former King Juan Carlos, right, with his son and King Felipe VI at La Zarzuela Palace in Madrid. Photograph: Zipi/Pool/Reuters 

Juan Carlos I, who reigned as King of Spain from 1975 to 2014, abdicated in favour of his son Felipe VI on June 19, 2014. Although he is hailed for his role in Spain’s transition to democracy, the King’s abdication was preceded by sullying reputation of the monarchy over controversies surrounding his family. An elephant-hunting trip he undertook during the time of financial crisis in Spain worsened the matters.


Albert II of Belgium

IMAGE: Former King Albert II of Belgium, centre, and his wife Queen Paola of Belgium at the Vatican. Photograph: Vincenzo Pinto/Pool/Reuters

Albert II reigned as the Sixth King of the Belgians from 1993 to 2013. He was born in 1934. He abdicated the throne for health reasons. He was succeeded by his son Philippe on July 21, 2013. He comes from the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.


Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani

IMAGE: Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. Photograph: Fadi Al-Assaad/Reuters.

A member of the ruling Al Thani Qatari royal family, he was the ruling Emir of Qatar from 1995 to 2013. Hamad seized power in a bloodless palace coup d'état in 1995. On June 25, 2013, Hamad, announced on TV that he would hand over the throne to his fourth son Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.


Beatrix of the Netherlands

IMAGE: Princess Beatrix of Netherlands, centre, embraces her son, Dutch King Willem-Alexander, left, and his wife Queen Maxima at the balcony of the Royal Palace in Amsterdam. Photograph: Dylan Martinez/Reuters

Beatrix Wilhelmina Armgard reigned as Queen of the Netherlands for 33 years, from 1980 until 2013. On April 30, 2013, she abdicated in favour of her eldest son, Willem-Alexander. At that time, Beatrix was the oldest reigning monarch of the Netherlands. She has assumed the title of Princess and continues to undertake some royal duties and is patron of many organisations.


Jigme Singye Wangchuck

IMAGE: Bhutan's fourth King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, right, crowns his son Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck as the fifth King of Bhutan at Tashichhodzong Palace during the coronation ceremony in Thimphu. Photograph: Royal Government of Bhutan/Handout/Reuters

King of Bhutan from 1972 to 2006, he abdicated in favour of his eldest son Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck on December 15, 2006. He is credited with many modern reforms in the country.


Saad Al-Salim Al-Sabah

IMAGE: Saad Al-Salim Al-Sabah. Photograph: Stephanie McGehee/ Reuters

The fourth Emir of Kuwait reigned only for nine days. He was 76 years old when he succeeded to the throne. He was suffering from colon disease, which led to speculation that he would refuse the Emirship. However, he took office on January 15, 2006. His continued health problems caused some to question his ability to rule.

On January 23, he agreed to abdicate and the Kuwaiti parliament voted him out of office the next day, moments before an official letter of abdication was received. He was succeeded by his second cousin Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah. He died on May 13, 2008, aged 78, from a heart attack.


Norodom Sihanouk

IMAGE: New Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni, right, and father former King Norodom Sihanouk talk to media in Phnom Penh. Photograph: Adrees Latif/Reuters

Norodom Sihanouk was the King of Cambodia twice from 1941 to 1955 and from 1993 to 2004. During his first reign, he campaigned for Cambodia’s independence from French rule, which took place in 1953. In an unusual gesture, Sihanouk abdicated in favour of her father Norodom Suramarit in 1955. He then formed the political organisation Sangkum.

Sihanouk led the Sangkum to victory in the 1955 general elections, and became the prime minister of Cambodia, a post he held till 1970. After his father’s death in 1960, he also introduced a constitutional amendment which made him the head of state of Cambodia.

In the coup of 1970, which led to the formation of Khmer Republic, Sihanouk was overthrown and fled to China and North Korea. He formed a government-in-exile and lent support to Khmer Rouge, which was fighting against the Khmer Republic.

After Khmer Rouge’s victory in Cambodian civil war in 1975, Sihanouk returned to his country and became its figurehead head of state. He, however, resigned in 1976 and was put under house arrest until 1979. He again went into exile after the Vietnamese forces overthrew Khmer Rouge.

In June 1993, Sihanouk was reinstated as Cambodia’s Head of State, and was appointed king in September 1993. On October 7, 2004, he abdicated again in favour of his son Norodom Sihamoni.

Sihanouk died on October 15, 2012.