Depending on the monarchy, becoming king can happen in one of several ways. Some kings earn their place on the throne through military conquest, while others are born into the role. Still others are placed into a position of power by groups of supporters who prefer them to the current king.
A new king may be a willing participant or - as is the case with these young monarchs - end up wearing a crown that is much too big for them, and before they even know what it is. Many of the youngest kings in history became rulers while they were, as the saying goes, still in diapers. At least one was a king before he was even born. Here are the youngest kings in history who climbed on the throne, but likely needed a boost to get there.
Shapur II Of Iran Was Crowned In The Womb
In 309 CE, Shapur II (sometimes spelled Sapur) became Shah before he was born. After the passing of Shapur's father, Hormizd II, Shapur's half-siblings ruled briefly but were all eliminated or deposed.
Shah Shapur was the leader of the Sassanid Empire until his death in 379 CE.
John I, also known as John the Posthumous, was born on November 15, 1316. His father, Louis X, had passed in June 1316. Louis X left behind a daughter, Jeanne, from his first marriage to Margaret of Burgundy. Jeanne was queen regent, under the authority of her uncle and regent Philip, until Clementia of Hungary, Louis's second wife and widow, gave birth to a boy - the new King of France.
Alfonso became King of Spain the moment he was born on May 17, 1886. His father, Alfonso XII, had died the previous year. According to The New York Times, the young Alfonso was "the happiest and best loved of all the rulers of the earth... a very beautiful child, with a laughing face and fair hair falling down over his shoulders."
Until Alfonso XIII came of age in 1902, his mother served as regent. When he took over kingly duties, Spain marked the occasion with a week of "popular and municipal festivities, bullfights, horse races, balls, and receptions."
Ivan VI became the youngest Czar of Russia when he was just 2 months old. Born in August 1740, Ivan Antonovich was the son of Grand Duchess Anna Leopoldovna, niece of Empress Anna of Russia. Before her passing in October 1740, Empress Anna adopted the infant and designed him to be her heir.
Ivan VI's mother served as regent, but in December 1741, Peter the Great's daughter staged a coup and took the throne. The new empress, Elizabeth of Russia, imprisoned Ivan and his parents and, in 1764, Ivan was killed while still in confinement.
Sobhuza II was King of Swaziland for more than 80 years and holds the distinction of the longest-reigning monarch in documented history.
When the future King Henry VI of England was born on December 6, 1421, it was just nine months before the death of his father, King Henry V, on August 31, 1422. Henry V was on campaign in France during the Hundred Years' War when he succumbed to dysentery.
As the youngest king to ever take the throne in England, Henry VI's uncles Cardinal Beaufort; Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester; and John, Duke of Bedford, served as protectors and regents during his youth.