The Oldest World Leaders Currently in Power

Elizabeth II

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Elizabeth II
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Power in Numbers

Queen Elizabeth II, who had been the oldest world leader still in power, has died, Buckingham Palace announced. The queen — who celebrated her 96th birthday and 70 years on the throne this year — has had her fair share of health scares recently, including a bout with COVID-19 in February. But she was far from the only advanced-age head of state to have a health scare, and was just one of many long-lived global power players still in office. 

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Harald V
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Harald V, 85

King of Norway
Years served: 31
Succeeding his father Olav V, Norway's King Harald took power in 1991 at the age of 53. He was the country's first native-born king since the 14th century and made headlines prior to taking the throne for marrying a commoner. He went on to steal the hearts of many in his nation for his support of gay rights and for leading the mourning in 2011 of the victims of mass killer Anders Behring Breivik. 

Pope Francis
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Pope Francis, 85

Pope of the Holy See, Sovereign of the Vatican City State
Years served: 9
A trailblazer in many ways, Pope Francis was elected in 2013 to succeed Pope Benedict XVI. His tenure has made headlines, and he has earned worldwide admiration for his humility, outspoken support of the poor and marginalized, and bold environmental advocacy. Pope Francis took on his current role at the age of 76.

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Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud
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Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, 86

King of Saudi Arabia
Years served: 7
Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud succeeded his half-brother in 2015. His history in power includes some unsavory highlights, including being ruler when Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, a former Saudi royal insider who became a critic of the regime of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed and dismembered on the orders of the "highest levels of the royal court" in Saudi Arabia. King Salman assumed his role when he was 79.

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Mahmoud Abbas
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Mahmoud Abbas, 87

Palestinian Leader
Years served: 17
President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas was elected in 2005, after the death of longtime leader Yasser Arafat. Abbas received more than 60% of the vote when elected. A longtime leading Palestinian figure, Abbas is known for his devotion to a peaceful solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. He became president at the age of 69.

Michel Aoun
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Michel Aoun, 88

President of Lebanon
Years served: 5
Lebanon's president Michel Aoun began his rise to power as commander of the Lebanese army in 1984. Later he was appointed prime minister (in 1988) and in 2016 assumed his current role of president. He took office at 81 years old and is only Lebanon's 13th president. The country did not gain independence from France until 1943.

Paul Biya
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Paul Biya, 89

President of Cameroon
Years served: 39
Often criticized as Cameroon's "absentee president" thanks to the significant amounts of time he spends out of the country, Paul Biya has been in power since November 1982. He's one of the longest-serving leaders in Africa. However, corruption has seemingly proliferated under his rule. In addition, term limits were done away with under Biya, allowing the octogenarian to serve as long as he has.

Elizabeth II
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Elizabeth II, 96

Queen of the United Kingdom
Years served: 70
Queen Elizabeth, mother of Prince Charles and grandmother to Princes William and Harry, was not only the oldest world leader on this list, she was also the second-longest reigning monarch in world history and the longest-reigning in the history of her country, despite recent health scares. Upon her 70-year anniversary, the queen surpassed Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who reigned from 1946 until his death in 2016. She was behind only France's King Louis XIV, who gained his title at just 4 years old in 1643. Louis XIV was king until his death in 1715 — reigning for a total of 72 years and 110 days. Elizabeth became queen in 1952 and was crowned in 1953 after her fate was dramatically changed by a love affair between her uncle, King Edward VIII, and American divorcee Wallis Simpson. Edward abdicated the crown to follow his heart and be with Simpson, and Elizabeth suddenly found herself heir to the throne behind her father, George. When King George VI died in 1952, she officially became Queen Elizabeth II.

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