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Records broken by royals, from the oldest royal to the largest royal family

Records broken by royals, from the oldest royal to the largest royal family
12 May
4:11

THE upcoming wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle is propelling the British royal family into ever-greater levels of fame, but they are far from being the oldest, richest, largest. Here’s how the Windsors stack up in the annals of royal records.

LARGEST ROYAL FAMILY

House of Saud, Saudi Arabia

Dubbed as the ‘founder of modern Saudi Arabia’, the late King Abdulaziz Ibn Saud is the patriarch of the largest royal family in history.

King Ibn Saud, who ruled from his teenage years until his death in 1953, had more than 100 children to 22 wives, though reportedly never more than four at a time.

It is not known exactly how many children he had, but it is understood he had 44 sons, with four of them having gone on to rule.

The late Ibn Saud now has more than a thousand grandsons who intermarry within the dynasty to re-establish their lineage and status within the ruling clan.

The house had over 4000 royal princes and 30,000 royal relatives in 2002, and is believed to have about 15,000 who are alive today.

OLDEST ROYAL

Princess Alice, United Kingdom

Britain's Duchess of Gloucester, Princess Alice, in her wedding dress in London in 1935.
Camera IconBritain’s Duchess of Gloucester, Princess Alice, in her wedding dress in London in 1935.Picture: AP

Alice, Duchess of Gloucester became the oldest known royal in history when she reached the age of 101 years and 269 days in 2003. She died peacefully in her sleep at the age of 102 years 309 days on October 29 2004 at Kensington Palace in London, where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry and soon-to-be royal Meghan Markle now reside.

Queen Elizabeth II with Princess Alice and Princess Margaret at a party to honour Princess Alice's 100th birthday in December, 2001.
Camera IconQueen Elizabeth II with Princess Alice and Princess Margaret at a party to honour Princess Alice’s 100th birthday in December, 2001.Picture: AP

She beat the previous record held by Princess Leonilla of Russia, who had a lifespan of 101 years and 268 days, dying in February 1918.

The Duchess became a princess after marrying Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, and was an aunt by marriage to Queen Elizabeth II.

MOST HIT RECORDS BY A ROYAL

Princess Stephanie, Monaco

Princess Stephanie of Monaco in 1996, not long after she retired from music.
Camera IconPrincess Stephanie of Monaco in 1996, not long after she retired from music.Picture: AP
Princess Stephanie of Monaco attending the 38th International Circus Festival in 2014.
Camera IconPrincess Stephanie of Monaco attending the 38th International Circus Festival in 2014.Picture: Getty Images, Charly Gallo/Monaco Centre de Presse

The story of a princess turned popstar, Princess Stephanie of Monaco is the only royal in the world to have had a string of music hits. The younger daughter of Prince Rainier III and Princess Grace released her first single Ouragan in 1986, which became an international hit selling two million copies.

Princess Stephanie ended her music career by recording In the Closet with Michael Jackson for his album Dangerous in 1991, which became a worldwide hit.

FIRST ROYAL IN SPACE

Prince Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Saudi Arabia

The first royal in space was Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, a former Royal Saudi Air Force pilot, who flew as a Payload Specialist on-board the STS-51-G mission of the space shuttle Discovery from June 17-24 in 1985. This feat made him the first member of a royal family to be an astronaut, and the first Arab and Muslim to fly in space.

RICHEST ROYAL FAMILY

The House of Saud, Saudi Arabia

The current head of House of Saud, Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz.
Camera IconThe current head of House of Saud, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz.Picture: AFP, AFP/Saudi Royal Palace/Bandar Al-Jaloud

The wealthiest royal family in the world is the House of Saud, of Saudi Arabia, which is estimated to be worth an insane $1.7 trillion, largely thanks to its many family members. This gobsmacking wealth is spread out among the family’s 15,000 or so members. The House of Saud has ruled the nation which bears its name since 1744. King Salman, who has been on the throne since 2015, carries much of the wealth. Prince Alwaleed, who has recently been arrested on corruption charges, is reportedly the wealthiest individual member of the family with an estimated net worth of $18.7 billion, largely thanks to his successful investments.

OLDEST MONARCHY

Imperial House of Japan

Japan's Emperor Akihito, who acceded the throne in 1989, and Empress Michiko waving from the balcony of the Imperial Palace during their annual new year greeting in Tokyo.
Camera IconJapan’s Emperor Akihito, who acceded the throne in 1989, and Empress Michiko waving from the balcony of the Imperial Palace during their annual new year greeting in Tokyo.Picture: AFP, AFP/Toshifumi Kitamura

According to legend, the Imperial House of Japan was founded in 660 BCE by Japan’s first Emperor, Jimmu, making it the oldest continuous hereditary monarchy in the world. Although this does stem from mythological origins, the country officially recognises February 11, 660 BCE as the date of its founding.

A late 19th century print of the legendary Japanese first emperor, Jimmu.
Camera IconA late 19th century print of the legendary Japanese first emperor, Jimmu.Picture: Supplied

Japan’s imperial house lists 125 monarchs beginning with Emperor Jimmu, who was said to be descended from the sun goddess. But existing records of the royal line of succession only date back to Emperor Ōjin, who ruled in the early 4th century. The current emperor of Japan is Emperor Akihito, who ascended the throne on January 7, 1989. He will abdicate next year, with his heir and eldest son Crown Prince Naruhito set to take the throne and continue the family legacy.

LARGEST PALACE

Forbidden City, Beijing, China

The Forbidden City is the largest palatial structure in the world.
Camera IconThe Forbidden City is the largest palatial structure in the world.Picture: Supplied

The Forbidden City, a former home of emperors, is the palatial heart of China. Originally constructed during the early Ming Dynasty in 1420, it is the largest ancient palatial structure in the world, taking more than 14 years to complete and requiring more than one million workers. After centuries of modifications, today it comprises some 980 buildings with 8886 rooms and is the main tourist drawcard in China. It covers a 72-ha (178-acre) rectangle measuring 961 x 753 m (3,150 x 2,460 ft).

*A number of these records have been recognised by the Guiness World Records

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