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This trope is when a woman reigns under a masculine title, and usually with all the authority that title implies. There are three varieties.

  1. When the ruler in question is actually a woman disguised as a man.
  2. When the ruler is openly a woman, but still has a masculine title. There are four major variations of this:
    1. The woman rules under the outright legal fiction that she is a man,
    2. The laws that say a queen can't rule fail to specify that a king must be male. This is usually done as a way to get out of a Succession Crisis.
    3. The nation crowning the woman king wants to make it clear that she rules in her own right.
    4. The title is always masculine, regardless of the holder's gender.
  3. The title itself is gender neutral (unisex). Note that this depends entirely on the language of the title itself.

In terms of the ranks of Authority Tropes, the tropes that are equal are God Save Us From the Queen, The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask, The High Queen, The Good King, and President Evil. The next steps down are The Evil Prince, Prince Charming, Prince Charmless, Warrior Prince, The White Prince, The Wise Prince, and all Princess Tropes. The next step up is The Emperor.

See also Matriarchy.

Examples of Type 1


Anime/Manga

  • In Fate Stay Night, Saber is King Arturia Pendragon. She was pretending to be a male King Arthur, but according to the narrator, most people around her realized that she is a girl, they just chose to ignore it, edging it into Type 2.
  • A filler episode of Naruto has a princess masquerading as her brother, the king.


Literature

  • In Mercedes Lackey's By the Sword, it's mentioned that the current Son of the Sun, leader of theocratic Karse, is a woman pretending to be a man, including wearing a faux mustache. She's later replaced by a different variant on the trope, Solaris.


Myth and Legend

  • The legendary Pope Joan, who, it was claimed, lived in the 9th century, disguised herself as a man and reigned as Pope "John" for a few years until she was exposed as a woman when she gave birth on horseback.


Video Games

  • In Soul Calibur: Legends The Masked Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire is actually a woman, despite having a (granted, rather effeminate) male voice with the mask on. You'd think gendered pronouns would give it away, but she always refers to herself as we. It gets weird when she says things like, "Don't tell anyone that we are a woman."


Examples of Type 2

Anime & Manga

  • Various Ancient Belka Kings in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, who still keep that title even if they are female. Specific examples are Sankt Kaiser Olivie Segbrecht and Ixpellia, the king of Garea.
    • Although with the Sankt Kaiser, there's no indication that the title itself has any gender connotations, so this might be a Type 3 instead.
    • Nanoha and Fate's devices call them "Master" and "Sir", respectively. Chrono's device uses the gender-neutral "boss". This was lampshaded as a Running Gag in The Abridged Series:

 Bardiche: Yes, sir!

Fate: That's ma'am!

    • In the dub of As and some translations, Signum, Zafira and Reinforce refer to Hayate as "Master Hayate".
  • Sir Integra Hellsing.
  • Moukaku The Nanban King from Koihime Musou
  • Major General Armstrong of Fullmetal Alchemist is usually referred to as "sir" by her men.

 Soldier #1: Hey, you do know that our CO's a woman as well...

Soldier #2: She's too scary to be a woman!

  • The Idol masters in Idolmaster: Xenoglossia are all girls. In the original game the idol 'master' was the player, a producer (master) of idols but because Sunrise made the anime In Name Only the 'masters' of the 'Idols' (giant robots in this instance) became female.
  • In High School DxD, this is more of a chess motif during a Rating Game. An example would be Rias herself who is considered a King because she's the most important person in that particular game.
  • Lord Satan in My Balls.
  • Mukuro is one the Three Kings in Yu Yu Hakusho.


Film

  • In Pirates of the Caribbean, Pirate King Elizabeth Swann.
    • Also, the nine leaders of the pirates are called Pirate Lords, regardless of gender.


Literature

  • In the Heralds of Valdemar series, starting partway through the Mage Winds trilogy the High Priest of Vkandis and ruler of the theocracy of Karse is a woman named Solaris, whose title is "Son of the Sun". Having been handpicked very publicly for the position by Vkandis himself seems to have thoroughly overcome the gender barrier that previously existed with regards to the role, but the terminology remains unchanged.
  • Likewise, D'ol Falla in the Green-Sky Trilogy is High Priest of the Vine, and women who run guilds are called guild-masters.
  • Xanth has this In this case The King of Xanth is defined as its ruler (at least among the human inhabitants) while The Queen of Xanth is defined as the King's spouse. Turns out, they never explicitly defined the King as being male, that had just been assumed to be the case for centuries due to the requirement that the office (which is not hereditary) has to go to a Magician. Since females with powerful magic were called Sorceresses, it was believed that they didn't qualify. Until somebody pointed out that a Sorceress is defined as a female Magician, and thus is also a Magician.
    • Which not only paved the way for this trope, but for its inversion: a female King of Xanth's spouse is a male Queen.
  • In Megan Whalen Turner's series The Queen's Thief, the Queen of Eddis is called Eddis when as a woman she should have been called Eddia.
  • In Tamora Pierce's The Song Of The Lioness series, the Lady Knight Alanna is referred to as "Sir Alanna." This is because she masqueraded as a boy for literally the entirety of her knight training because girls weren't allowed to become knights, and as a result was knighted as "Sir Alan" and only revealed to be female afterwards. As a result she does not carry a shield with a distaff (feminine) border. Keladry of Mindelan, on the other hand, is "Lady Knight Keladry" because she trained openly as a female, and has a distaff shield.
  • In Pyramids, there's precedent for the royal family of Djelibeybi being able to change sex by decree. "No, sire, she is a man. She herself declares this."
  • In Honor Harrington, only men of the royal line can be Emperor of the Anderman Empire. At least once an emperor failed to produce any male heirs and it looked like there would by a dynastic civil war between his various nephews and cousins. Then his daughter proclaimed herself to be a man and took the throne, basically daring all her male cousins to object if they thought they could make it stick. They universally declined the offer and, by all accounts, she became one of the empire's longest ruling and most effective leaders since the original Gustav Anderman himself.
  • In Temeraire, the Tswana society resolves around ancestor worship, and they practice telling stories of deceased loved ones to dragon eggs, so that the dragons are born as reincarnations of great leaders. This has lead to their entire empire being led by a young female dragon who is the "reincarnation" of their last king.
  • In the Vorkosigan Saga, some time during Barrayar's Time of Isolation, a Countess was legally declared a male in order to inherit (and later had "that bizzare lawsuit" about her marriage). By the time of the books, Lady Donna Vorrutyer finds a modern, technological option.


Live Action Television

  • In Star Trek up until Voyager female superior officers were called "Sir". Janeway refused that, insisting on being called Captain or "Ma'am". In spite of this, the bridge crew still called her "Sir" periodically.
  • In the Doctor Who episode "The Next Doctor", Miss Hartigan is pronounced the CyberKing.
  • On Farscape, Zhaan refers to herself as a priest, not a priestess. Her native word for her job is "Pa'u", but she's rarely called anything other than just "Zhaan". This is at least potentially an aversion, since Zhaan is actually a plant-based species, so gender might be a muddled issue with them anyway despite looking female.
  • On Due South, Fraser habitually refers to his boss, Inspector Thatcher, as "sir".
  • In Hikari Sentai Maskman, Prince Igam is working with the bad guys in order to restore the Igam Clan to their former glory (and gets into friction with the others because her goals aren't always in line with her boss's.) She uses male pronouns. However, it seems she was actually a type 1 - bizarrely, a number of characters are astonished when she is "revealed" to be female even though she did nothing to alter her obviously female features and voice.
  • The new captain on Castle is a woman who insists on being called "sir".


Music


Tabletop Games

  • In Traveller, among the Aslan on the rare occasions that there is no male heir for a male position it is known for females to be declared "legally male". She must swear celibacy and act as a male in all duties appropriate to her gender. According to canon, this is more common in Aslan legends than in practice.
  • "Prince" is the title for the vampire ruler of a Camarilla city in Vampire: The Masquerade or pretty much any city in Vampire: The Requiem, regardless of the prince's sex. The former explains the title as a tribute to Niccolo Machiavelli, as a Camarilla prince secures his/her position through cunning, charisma and brutality, not heredity.
  • In the Tir Tairngire supplement for Shadowrun, all members of the nation's ruling council are called "Prince", regardless of gender. The female council members are the ones who insist upon this practice, as they believe "Princess" would convey too much of a frilly-Disney-eye-candy public image.
  • Inverted: Some references in Exalted suggest that whoever ascends to control of the Realm will continue the title of Scarlet Empress regardless of their own gender (although the tendency to assume that the new ruler will be an Empress may just be acknowledgement of the fact that most of the prime candidates are women).


Video Games

  • In Quest for Glory V, it's possible for Elsa to become King at the end.
  • In Final Fantasy VIII, the Card Club uses card terminology for all its members. The club's leader, Quistis, is the female "King". She actually won the title from the Garden's doctor, who is also female.
  • Inverted in the flash series Alice Is Dead, The Queen is always referred to as "he".
  • Fire Emblem Awakening: Emelina's full title is "Holy King of the Holy Kingdom of Iris"; outside of its use, she's apparently still just called the queen.


Web Comics

  • Symbolic application in Misfile. The best of the local street-racers is crowned 'King of the Mountain', and right now, that happens to be Ash, who is (currently) female. When she first won the title, they tried to change it to 'Queen of the Mountain', but due to her recent Gender Bender, she protested. LOUDLY.
  • The Basitin King Adelaide from Two Kinds. In Basitin culture, rank is derived solely from your prowess in battle. The female king stands head and shoulders above any other Basitin.


Western Animation

  • Inverted in an episode of The Fairly Odd Parents when Timmy is crowned Queen of the Skate Park, though his friends keep correcting him with "King" when he says "Queen".
  • In Beast Wars Inferno called Megatron his Queen, because Inferno was based on a fire ant.
    • Inferno gets it from a glitch in his programming. The ant's instinct is dominant, so he truly believes that he is an ant.


Real Life

  • Older Than Dirt: More than one woman has gained the throne of ancient Egypt:
    • Hatshepsut was Pharaoh of Egypt. Because the Pharoah was, mythologically speaking, the son of Ra, he had to be a man, even if he was a woman. She even insisted on being called "His Majesty." Statues of her go so far as to depict her with a male body, but an obviously female face. It's often mentioned that she wore a false beard, but that's not significant as male Pharaohs did so as well.
    • Sobekneferu (reigned 1806–1802 BCE) is the first known female King of Egypt, which makes her the Ur Example of this trope. She reigned during the twelfth dynasty, but women might have been crowned King as far back as the first.
  • Jadwiga of Anjou, King of Poland. This one is a fine case of Loophole Abuse: Although the law made no provision for a ruling queen (Regina Poloniae), no law said that the king had to be male. By crowning a woman King, Poland avoided a Succession Crisis.
  • Although the Latin word for "Queen" is "Regina", Elizabeth I of England ruled as Elizabeth Rex; Rex is Latin for "King". In one famous speech, she stated that even though she had the body of a woman, she had the heart of a King of England. Then her navy went out to kick the Spanish Armada's ass.
    • Her mother Anne Boleyn was made the Marquess of Pembroke (a masculine title, despite the feminine-looking ending) by Henry VIII. The actual female equivalent is "marchioness".
  • Queen Elizabeth II is the Duke of Lancaster, the Duke of Normandy (in the Channel Islands) and the Lord of Mann (on the Isle of Man). All of these titles are automatically held by the currently reigning monarch of the United Kingdom, regardless of that monarch's gender.
    • All but the lordship of Mann are also 19th century fictions; the honour of Lancaster is crown estate, but english titles held by the monarch revert to the crown, which is why Cornwall is recreated every reign. As for the duchy of Normandy, no English sovereign has used the title from the 13th century to the late victorian era, the title having been relinquished in 1268 (and it would have reverted to the kingdom of France nonetheless as soon as they started to call themselves that).
  • On the occasion of the invasion of Silesia by Frederick II, King of Prussia, the sort-of Holy Roman Empress Maria Theresa, who also was Queen Regnant of Hungary, appealed for aid to her Hungarian subjects in their Diet, at which, we are told, a number of cavaliers rose, drew their swords, and shouted, "Moriamur pro nostro Rege, Maria Theresia, Let us die for our King, Maria Theresa".
    • Averted with her main title, though. While she ruled in her own right as Archduchess of Austria, Queen of Bohemia, etc., etc., etc., she was officially only Holy Roman Empress-consort (or later, Dowager Empress): the Electors refused to elect a female Emperor, giving the position to her husband Francis, Duke of Lorraine. Though in practice, Francis left the governance to his wife, with most of his own efforts going to the Empire's finances.
  • Peggielene Bartels, the first female king of Otuam, Ghana ("king" here being more of a local village-leader position).
  • Irene of Athens was regent in charge of the Byzantine Empire during the reign of her son Constantine VI (780-797). Upon his death she took the throne, ruling as "emperor" rather than "empress".
  • Inverted with Elagabalus, a third century Roman emperor who much to the dismay of his subjects preferred to be referred to as "empress", and who would (probably) be considered transsexual by today's standards.
  • Tamar of Georgia was known as King of Kings and Queen of Queens, and she is always referred to in the Georgian language as King Tamar.
  • Christina of Sweden, nicknamed "the Girl King," was educated in typically-masculine pursuits, and took her coronation oath as king.
  • In fact, the legal title for the Dutch monarch is "King of the Netherlands", regardless of gender. So the current queen is legally a king.
  • Similarly, the constitution of Denmark defines just the office of "The King", while also specifying explicitly that this office can be inherited by women. Any particular female king will be referred to as "queen" even in formal, official documents.
  • The Scottish cities of Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow all have a Lord Provost instead of a mayor. Anyone who holds the title is referred to as Lord Provost, regardless of gender.
    • This is true of many other positions in the UK with "Lord" in them, including the offices of Lord Privy Seal, Lord President of the Council, and Lord Chancellor (three very senior positions in HM Government, typically held by very big fish indeed). Thus far, no woman has ever been Lord Chancellor, but the other two have been held by women: Harriet "Three Hats" Harman held the latter position 2007-2010, and five women were Lord President under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, [1] and all of them continued to use "Lord" rather than "Lady"
      • There is a reason (probably) that no women have been Lord Chancellor just yet. Lord Privy Seal and Lord President are emphatically political positions--they are generally being given as a sinecure to bring someone with a more pragmatic but less prestigious title like Deputy Prime Minister or Leader of the House of Commons into Cabinet. However, the Lord Chancellor was, until 2005, the the speaker of the House of Lords and a government minister responsible for the judiciary and sat on a number of judicial and quasi-judicial bodies, as well. To streamline the government, Labour decided to strip the post of Lord Chancellor of almost all its powers and create the positions of Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Speaker with most of the post's old executive and legislative duties, respectively. Thus far, all three Justice Secretaries have been Lord Chancellor, and if a woman is appointed to the post, it is likely she will be called "Lord Chancellor"; somewhat amusingly, both Lord Speakers since the establishment of the post have been women, and both followed the same rule.
  • Plenty of corporate and other leaders' positions convey an official title of "Chairman", no matter what gender holds that position. Political correctness has caused some of these titles to be truncated to "Chair", but others remain grammatically-masculine.
  • Wu Zetian was the only woman to ever be crowned Emperor in China. She's usually referred to as Empress in English translations, but her actual title in Chinese was the male huangdi as the Chinese word for Empress only refers to the wife of a ruler.


Examples of Type 3

Anime/Manga

  • In The Twelve Kingdoms, the ruler is referred to as the "king" regardless of gender (at least in some translations). The original Japanese word translated as "king" is closer to the gender-neutral "monarch".
  • Maou in Maouyuu Maou Yuusha is this seeing as she's the ruler of the demon world.


Live Action Television


Literature

  • In the Branion series by Fiona Patton, the sovereign's title ("Aristok") is unisex, and all the others are male (Prince, Duke, Knight, etc) but can equally well pertain to females. A consort, whether male or female, is just that, a consort.
  • In The Fifth Elephant, the dwarf Low King is quite strongly implied to be female (it's never explicitly confirmed either way). More the third type than second or first, because most dwarves don't acknowledge gender distinctions; in traditional dwarfish culture, all dwarfs are effectively male.
  • In Patricia C. Wrede's Dragonsbane (also titled Dealing with Dragons), the first volume of the Enchanted Forest Chronicles, it is explained that the title of King of the Dragons is gender neutral, Kazul is a female dragon and contestant for the title of King. In what is arguably an inversion, Queen, a boring secretarial position unrelated to being the ruler or ruler's consort, is also a gender-neutral title, and the most recent holder of the now-vacant post was male.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, a certain key prophecy refers to the Prince That Is Promised, but all the signs are pointing very clearly at a female character. The fandom guessed that the term "Prince" was gender-neutral in Old Valyrian, the language the prophecy was written in. This was proven exactly correct in A Feast For Crows.


Myth and Legend

  • In Judaism, some rare verses refer to God in the feminine form instead of the more common masculine form. This isn't to suggest that God is a female being, but rather one that can be referred to both in the masculine and feminine gender. An omnipotent being likely doesn't have fixed genitalia.


Tabletop Game

  • Ruling vampires in Vampire: The Requiem tend to adopt the title of "Prince", regardless of gender.


Video Games

  • The Imperator of the Novus Orvus Librarium in Blaz Blue.
  • Knights in Dragon Age use the honorific 'Ser', which is gender-neutral.
    • Likewise, the next step up on the Fereldan ladder of nobility is "bann", roughly the equivalent of baron, which is also a gender-neutral title.
    • As is the title of Viscount of Kirkwall in Dragon Age 2.
  • The title of "Keyblade Master" in Kingdom Hearts, as demonstrated by Master Aqua in Birth by Sleep.
  • Where do the Kings of Cinquleur fit in? While three of them are males, I see "Red King" and "Green King" Red Mage an Green Mage Vieras titled as Kings.
  • From the Fire Emblem series, Lyn and Eirika both start out with the Lord class, with Lyn promoting to Blade Lord and Eirika to Great Lord. This is mostly a case of Gameplay and Story Segregation, however, as Lord is the traditional class for any protagonist of royal ancestry, regardless of what their actual title may be. Both Lyn and Erika are princesses and referred to as such in their respective games.
  • The Daedric Princes of the Elder Scrolls series are an interesting example. They don't actually have set genders due to their nature, but since almost all of them tend to adopt distinctly male or female forms this trope is effectively in place.


Real Life

  • Most republican titles, such as president and prime minister, are gender neutral (at least in English), with an exception noted below (senator/senatrix).
  • While under the current constitution women are barred from the line of succession, historically eight women have held Japan's Chrysanthemum Throne. All of them used the same title as their male counterparts: "tennō". While the title is normally translated as the masculine "Emperor", the literal translation is "Heavenly Sovereign", which is gender-neutral.


Blended and Other Examples

Anime and Manga

  • Because of a Gendercide plague, the shogun and feudal lords of Japan are all female in the manga Ooku. They also adopt male names when assuming their titles, and audiences with foreigners are elaborately stage-managed to give the appearance that the ruler is male, making this a cross between Type 1 and Type 2.
  • Utena often refers to the fact that she wants to be a prince, though in context it refers more to an ideal than an actual royal title, and the entire point of the series is to heavily deconstruct the idea of princes and princesses.


Comic Books

  • Winnowill in Elf Quest is Lord of the Gliders. A suggested reason is that the Gliders only ever had one ruler before that, and for something like 10,000 years, so she just took over the title.


Literature

  • In Heir Apparent, Giannine plays a role-playing game which ends up threatening her life through a fault in the machine in which the goal is to be crowned the king. Even if the player is a woman. Yeah, the designers didn't think that one through.
  • Tanith Lee’s East of Midnight features the Moon King, the female ruler of a female-dominated society.
  • In the Dragonlance saga, Dragon Highlord Kitiara is referred to by the masculine title because Dragon Highlady would have just sounded silly. Word of God has it that if the subject had ever come up in the story, Kitiara would have laughed and said she certainly wasn't a lady.
    • By the same logic, both male and female members of the ruling council of Tir Tairngire, from the Shadowrun game setting, are formally titled "Prince", because "Princess" carries so many silly Disney-cutesie connotations.


Live Action Television

  • In Angel Illyria, God-King of the Primordium is referred to as "she" after her resurrection. This is presumably because the Old Ones lacked any real gender identity, whereas she's now inhabiting a female body which affects her personality. May overlap with with Type 2, as in her original language what's been translated as God-King was probably a genderless title.


Video games

  • Toyosatomimi no Miko of Touhou Project is a genderbent version of Crown Prince Shoutoku, and retains his (masculine) title. However, it isn't clear whether or not she was openly female.
  • It's revealed very late in Brutal Legend that the title of "Emperor" amongst the Tainted Coil can be used for either gender. In fact, the previous Emperor was the protagonist's mother.


Western Animation

  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, just before her impending coronation, Azula refers to herself as "Fire Lord". Since we've seen only seen the most recent six Fire Lords (two unnamed rulers only seen in background art, Sozin, Azulon, Ozai, and Zuko) and all are male, this may mean that Fire Lord was completely a male role before Azula tried to claim it (making it a type 2), but the lack of surprise or opposition when she took the "male" title throws that into doubt. It's probably most reasonable to consider it a gender-neutral title (and thus a type 3).
  • Storm Hawks. Master Cyclonis is the Empress of Cyclonia. This seems to have also been the title used by her Grandmother.


Real Life

  • When using Latin titles, swapping the "-or" for "-rix" is a general rule when the holder of a position is a woman. (This is seen in dominator/dominatrix.) Hence, the feminine form of the Latin word "senator" is "senatrix". The rule was once used with Latin-derived words in English, but this is now essentially extinct, which means "senatrix" is virtually unknown in English and "senator" is now considered unisex, straddling the line between Type 2 and Type 3.
    • In Canada, women senators are called sénatrices in French, as opposed to the more usual feminisation "Sénateuse."
    • In modern Romanian language, all political and professional titles are correctly and formally masculine, even if held by a woman - one is expected to address a female as "Mrs. Doctor" or "Mrs. Senator". Even as the (widely used) informal speech allows for plenty of gender-specific forms, those are considered rude and impolite.
      • It is the same in modern Russian, except the professional titles are rarely used to address.
  • In modern Swedish, most professions use the male form regardless of the person's gender, such as "professor" or "doctor". The archaic female forms, "proffesorska" or "doktorska" is hardly ever used except in period-pieces and does not actually mean "female doctor" or "female professor" but "a woman married to a doctor or professor". Interestingly, the case is very different with the word "sjuksköterska" ("nurse") which is a female title that is also used by male nurses. The male equivalent, "sjukskötare" was already taken to mean "male attenders at asylums" which had a different and much less extensive professional training.
  • Elizabeth I of England (mentioned above) also referred to herself in her speeches and writings as a "prince," which, although it has masculine connotations, was an accepted term for a monarch at the time.
    • Her sister, Mary I, and cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots, also referred to themselves as Princes. This is because the term "prince" originally could be applied to rulers, regardless of sex. (It comes from princeps, a word meaning "first.") When Machiavelli talks of "princes" in Il Principe, he's referring to any sort of person in power, whether they are a duke, a king, a queen or a prince.

Notes

  1. In fact, men only held the office for three of the twelve years of Labour government, and the last one of those was Peter Mandelson, who took the office only to worm his way into the government of his hated rival, Brown.
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