In Honour of the Lettuce Lady, Here’s a List of the Shortest-Serving Rulers in History

shortest serving uk prime minister

Liz Truss is stepping down as Prime Minister of the UK after just 44 days in office. She is succeeded by a wilting iceberg lettuce that has taken over as caretaker leader in the interim transition period — as far as we understand it.

At a little over six weeks in power, Truss earns the unenviable title of shortest reigning Prime Minister. She scores a strong lead over the former holder of that title, George Canning, who died of tuberculosis in office after 119 days in 1827.

As far as national leaders go, that’s a seriously short inning, although Truss managed to hang on far longer than many of history’s shortest-serving rulers. So, we’ve put together this list of similar brief rulers to see just how the outgoing PM stacks up.

William Henry Harrison

The ninth president of the United States lasted a record-holding 32 days in office. Inaugurated on March 4, 1841, Harrison delivered the longest inaugural address at the time, speaking for nearly two hours in the cold and wet without an overcoat or hat. It is believed that this may have contributed to the pneumonia that killed him on April 4.

Pedro Lascuráin

Harrison however has nothing on Lascuráin, who still holds the record for shortest-serving president of all time. Lascuráin served as the 38th President of Mexico for just 45 minutes on February 19, 1913. The former mayor of Mexico City was placed in power by General Victoriano Huerta to legitimise the general’s ascension to the presidency during a coup. Huerta himself then served as Mexico’s 39th president for a little over a year before being overthrown in 1914.

Louis XIX

If you thought it couldn’t get shorter, strap in because we’re just warming up. Louis XIX, AKA Louis Antonie of France, Duke of Angoulême, is controversially considered one of the shortest reigning monarchs of all time. He ruled France for “less than” 20 minutes after his father, Charles X of France, abdicated during the French Revolution on August 2, 1830. Louis spent 20 minutes listening to his wife trying to convince him not to abdicate as well before also quitting and handing over power to his nephew Henri, Count of Bordeaux. Henri lasted just seven days before also packing it in.

The Infant Emperor of Xiaoming

Not much is known about this tiny leader, except for the fact that she was accidentally the Emperor Xiaoming of the Northern Wei dynasty for just a matter of hours. This one is a little bit confusing but on February 12, 582, the ruling Emperor Xiaoming died, leaving his 50-day-old daughter in place. The baby was declared Emperor by Empress Dowager Hu but was stripped of the title after just a number of hours owing to the fact that she was a girl and not a boy like Hu had believed.

John I of France

Returning to France once again, John I of France was King of the country for just five days from the moment of his birth on November 15, 1316, to his sad passing on November 20 the same year. The cause of his death is still unknown to this day, although rumours persist that he was murdered by his aunt so that his uncle, Phillip V, could take over as King. His death was the first non-father-to-son transfer of power France saw in three hundred years.

Josef Goebbels

The Nazi’s Minister of Propaganda succeeded Adolf Hitler as Chancellor, and therefore leader, of Germany for a little over 24 hours after the Führer shot himself on April 30, 1945. He spent May 1 walking around in panic, writing to request a ceasefire from the incoming Soviet troops, and eventually taking his own life as well.

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