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King Charles III

As King Charles reaches a milestone birthday, how do Europe’s other monarchs match up age wise?

BBC still/ fair use

King Charles III has marked a milestone birthday that only five other British monarchs have ever reached: his 75th birthday.

But even though he’s among the oldest within his own dynasty, where does he compare to his fellow European monarchs? Let’s take a look. Here is every European monarch ranked oldest to youngest.

King Harald of Norway — Aged 86

Europe’s oldest monarch is the King of Norway, who was born on 21 February 1937 as the only son of Crown Prince Olav and Crown Princess Martha Louise.

His early life saw him exiled during the Second World War, but once the war ended and he was back in Norway, he trained and studied for his future role. He married his wife, Sonja, in 1968 and the couple have two children.

King Harald ascended to the Norwegian throne on 17 January 1991.

Queen Margrethe of Denmark — Aged 83

Europe’s longest-reigning monarch is Queen Margrethe, but she wasn’t destined for the throne at the time of her birth on 16 April 1940.

Her parents, Crown Prince Frederick and Crown Princess Ingrid had only daughters, and once her father ascended to the throne, securing his heir was of the utmost importance.

The Act of Succession was passed in 1953 to allow for male-preference primogeniture (it would be changed to absolute primogeniture in 2009) and Margrethe became heiress presumptive.

Queen Margrethe succeeded her father on 14 January 1972.

Prince Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein — Aged 78

Though he has since passed over his powers to his son, Liechtenstein’s sovereign remains Prince Hans-Adam II. Hereditary Prince Alois is expected to succeed his father entirely upon his death.

King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden — Aged 77

He recently celebrated his Golden Jubilee—the only Swedish sovereign to ever reach this milestone—and he’s the fourth oldest monarch in Europe.

King Carl XVI Gustaf found himself pushed up the line of succession only nine months after his birth (which was 30 April 1946) when his father was killed in an airplane crash. His grandfather and predecessor, King Gustaf VI Adolf, reigned from 1950 to 1973, and Carl XVI Gustaf followed him onto the throne at only 27 years old.

King Charles III — Aged 75

A much-awaited heir to the British throne was born on 14 November 1948 and he spent the majority of his life preparing for his succession.

King Charles III has the distinction of being the oldest British monarch to succeed, the oldest heir apparent, and the longest-serving Prince of Wales in history. He succeeded his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, on 8 September 2022.

Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg — Aged 68

The oldest monarch who ascended to his throne through abdication, Grand Duke Henri was the eldest son of Grand Duke Jean and Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte.

Grand Duke Henri was born on 16 April 1955 and lived as heir apparent from 1964 to 1998. In 1998, his father handed down most of his powers, much like Prince Hans-Adam II in Liechtenstein, and he had a sort of ‘shadow reign’ until Grand Duke Jean ultimately abdicated on 7 October 2000.

Prince Albert II of Monaco — Aged 65

The only son of Monaco’s Prince Rainier III and Hollywood’s glamorous Grace Kelly was born on 14 March 1958.

His life was marked by preparations for the throne—Rainier reigned for nearly 56 years—and playboy antics, but when his father passed in 2005, Albert II was poised and ready for his newfound role as Monaco’s Sovereign Prince.

Prince Albert succeeded his father on 6 April 2005.

King Philippe of the Belgians — Aged 63

At the time of his birth, it seemed a distant possibility that he would ever sit on the Belgian throne.

King Philippe was born on 15 April 1960, a few months before his uncle, the reigning King Baudouin married his bride, Fabiola. It was expected that the couple would have their own children, pushing the king’s younger brother Albert and his children down the line of succession.

Unfortunately, the couple were unable to bear children, and when King Baudouin died following complications from heart surgery in 1993, Albert II succeeded him. In June 2013, King Albert II made the shock announcement that he planned to abdicate the throne on Belgium’s upcoming National Day. King Philippe succeeded his ailing father on 21 July 2013.

King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands — Aged 56

The first Dutch king in over 100 years, King Willem-Alexander was born with the expectation that he would be king on 27 April 1967.

The oldest of three sons born to Queen Beatrix and Prince Claus, Willem-Alexander spent his life preparing for the throne. As the Netherlands has a precedence of their monarchs abdicating, when Queen Beatrix announced her intentions to abdicate at the end of January 2013, her eldest son prepared to take over.

King Willem-Alexander, the first Dutch king since 1890, succeeded on 30 April 2013.

King Felipe VI of Spain — Aged 55

The youngest monarch in Europe is King Felipe, who was born on 30 January 1968.

At the time of his birth, Spain was governed by a military dictatorship and his father, Juan Carlos was named the heir to General Francisco Franco. The Spanish monarchy was restored on 20 November 1975, and two years later, Felipe was officially named the Prince of Asturias and heir to the kingdom.

Following a period of controversy in the early 2010s, King Juan Carlos I abdicated in favour of his son, and King Felipe succeeded on 19 June 2014.

About author

Jess is the Senior Royal Reporter and Editorial Assistant at Royal Central. Her interest in royalty started in her teenage years, coinciding with The Queen's Golden Jubilee in 2002 and grew from there. She specializes in the British Royal Family (with emphasis on the Cambridges) and the Danish Royal Family, and has provided royal commentary for media outlets in Canada, the United States, the UK and Australia.