Although many of Europe’s monarchies no longer exist, there are several that are still going strong today – even if it is for purely symbolic reasons. Within those monarchies are a number of queens and queen consorts who serve as prominent social and cultural figures for the nations they represent.
Currently, the continent is home to seven queens who reign over a combined total of more than 20 countries.
Of course, it’s important to remember this list only includes queens who are currently reigning over their country or countries. It’s worth noting that there are many royal figures, like Queen Anne-Marie of Greece, who are no longer reigning due to their country’s rejection of the monarchy.
Here are all of the currently reigning queens throughout the European continent and how they ascended to the throne.
Queen Mathilde of Belgium is somewhat of a renaissance woman.
Mathilde Marie Christine Ghislaine d’Udekem d’Acoz is the daughter of a count and countess, which means she’s no stranger to Belgian nobility.
In 1999, she married Belgium’s Prince Phillipe and simultaneously became a princess and Duchess of the Netherlands. When her husband later ascended to the throne in July 2013, she became Belgian’s first queen consort of Belgian descent.
Queen Mathilde is committed to participating in public events that serve the betterment of her country. Currently, she is the honorary president for UNICEF Belgium and the Council for Sustainable Development.
In addition to having her drive to help others, she can play piano and has a deep love for music and the arts.She also holds a degree in speech therapy from the Institut Libre Marie Haps in Brussels, which allowed her to work as a speech pathologist for several years. She also fluently speaks four languages.
The official website for the Belgian monarchy also notes that the queen participates in several sports, including swimming, cycling, and tennis.
Current reign: Five years
Queen Letizia Ortiz of Spain was a successful journalist who turned into a royal icon.
Prior to the marrying into Spain’s royal family, Queen Letizia held a successful journalism career. Throughout her time working in news, she served as an editor, anchor, and reporter for a variety of media outlets.
The current queen met her royal spouse, Prince Felipe VI, while on a journalism assignment in 2002. They kept their relationship a secret and surprised the entire country with their engagement a year later. When they married in Madrid on June 19, 2014, Letizia became the princess consort of Spain.
When her father-in-law, Juan Carlos I, abdicated his throne, her husband became the King of Spain, which effectively made her Spain’s first commoner queen.
The couple also has two daughters, Leonor and Sofia.
Current reign: Four years
Queen Margrethe II of Denmark made history for her country by ascending to the throne.
In 1972, Margrethe II became the first sovereign queen of Denmark, after succeeding her father, King Frederik IX.
This was a massive departure from the previous Danish traditions that stated only men could ascend to the throne. Her ascension officially marked the change in succession laws for the country, as well as a move toward a more modern view of the monarchy.
In 1967, she married Prince Henrik, a French diplomat, and together they had two sons: Prince Frederik and Prince Joaquim.Henrik died earlier this year due to health complications.
Beyond her royal duties, Queen Margrethe II is an avid painter and some of her works are available for viewing in Danish museums.
Like many other queens, she has an impeccable command of multiple languages. In fact, she utilised this skill by helping to translate the Danish version of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings,” which she also contributed illustrations to.Current reign: 46 years
Queen Silvia of Sweden actively supports humanitarian efforts.
Silvia was born in Germany on December 23, 1943 to a German father and a Brazilian mother.
In 1972, Silvia Renate Sommerlath met her future husband, King Carl XVI, at the Olympic Games in Munich. At the time, she was working on the Olympic planning committee. The pair married on June 19, 1976.
Ever since their marriage became official, Silvia has held the title of queen consort.Together they have three children: Princess Victoria, Prince Carl, and Princess Madeleine.
Like many other royal figures, Queen Silvia actively supports humanitarian efforts. In 1999 she founded the World Childhood Foundation to combat harsh living conditions for children around the world and she currently chairs The Silvia Home Foundation, which provides housing for dementia patients.
Current reign: 42 years
Queen Sonja of Norway was Norway’s first queen after more than half of a century.
According to the Royal House of Norway website, when Sonja married King Harald V in 1968, she became Norway’s first queen in 53 years.
This year marks the couple’s 50th wedding anniversary, though they sustained a nine-year courtship prior to their marriage because King Harald V struggled to get the monarchy to accept his love for a commoner.
After getting married, the queen and king went on to have two children: Prince Haakon Magnus, and heir to the throne Princess Mӓrtha Louise.
Queen Sonja has long-expressed an interest in fashion- she even studied dressmaking in her youth. At 81 years old, she still actively engages in other creative pursuits, like painting.
She is also the vice president for the Norwegian Red Cross and she actively participates in other social efforts to help refugees fleeing from crises.
Current reign: 50 years
Her Majesty Queen Máxima, Princess of the Netherlands is a vocal supporter for human rights.
Her Majesty Queen Máxima, Princess of the Netherlands, has an interesting backstory behind her royal career.
Although she’s reigned over the Dutch-speaking country for five years, she hasn’t always called it her home. She was born in Argentina, where she later earned a degree in economics.
Prior to her royal engagement to her current husband, King Willem- Alexander, Máxima Zorreguieta Cerruti worked as the vice president of Institutional Sales at Deutsche Bank in New York City.
She first met her future husband in 1999 at a party in Seville, Spain- and she didn’t know about his royal status. Máxima became a princess in 2002 when the pair got married.
When Queen Beatrix II abdicated the throne in 2013, Prince Willem- Alexander became king. This made Máxima the first Latinx queen consort to the Netherlands.
But, in the past, some of the Dutch public has expressed scepticism about Máxima joining the royal family because of her father’s controversial history as an agricultural minister during Argentina’s violent political dictatorship in the 1970s.
The concern over this information was so widespread that many pointed to that as the reason he was not invited to Máxima and Willem-Alexander’s royal wedding.
Her Majesty, Queen Maxima, Princess of the Netherlands has been focused on positive change. She currently serves as the special advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development at the United Nations. This position allows her to facilitate conversations on poverty and economic progress.
She’s also been a vocal supporter of LGBTQ rights and actively advocates for programs that ease the transition for immigrants to join the Dutch workforce.
She does this all while raising three daughters: Princess Catharina-Amalia, Princess Ariane, and Princess Alexia.
Current reign: Five years
Queen Elizabeth II is the longest-living British monarch ever.
Queen Elizabeth II is the definitive embodiment of a long-standing royal tradition. She has held her title for the past 65 years, which makes her the longest-reigning British monarch of all time. The runner-up for that title is Queen Victoria, who reigned for just under 64 years in the 19th century.
In 1952, she ascended to the throne at age 26 when her father, King George VI died.
Her royal duties include reigning over a commonwealth of 16 countries. As a result, she has spent a great portion of her life travelling to numerous countries to represent the commonwealth as a Head of State.
Interestingly enough, she has never given a press interview as the queen, thus granting her the nickname “Elizabeth the Silent.”
Queen Elizabeth II met her husband, Prince Philip Mountbatten, Duke of Edinburgh in 1934. They later married in 1947 and went on to have four children, eight grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren – and that number will grow when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s first child is born.
Current reign: 65 years
Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.