Queen Anne (reigned 1702 – 14) had seventeen known pregnancies during her marriage to Prince George of Denmark (b.1653, d.1708) but she died without surviving issue. Only five of her pregnancies led to live-born children and all of them died before she even ascended the throne. One son, William, lived to the age of eleven, dying in 1700.

Did any other monarch have so many known pregnancies yet fail to produce a surviving heir? If not (and I suspect not), which monarch comes closest to this (unwanted) record?

The question applies to both men and women who were monarchs in their own right and could be with more than one husband or wife (in the case male monarchs, this obviously means their wife or wives pregnancies!).

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    You may not be aware that a sexually active woman who is not using any contraceptive will get pregnant very often. But the majority of pregnancies end in a spontaneous miscarriage before the mother even notices. So every monarch (wishing to reproduce) who is not producing a child every year is in the same sad situation as Queen Anne.
    – RedSonja
    Sep 24, 2020 at 11:59

1 Answer 1


Not an exact fit, but Emperor Renzhong of Song came close with 16 children known to history. All three sons and eight of the daughters died young, so he eventually had to adopt the son of a cousin to succeed him. Though five of his princesses survived to adulthood, they were not considered heirs under Chinese succession laws. In that sense, Renzhong was unsuccessful in producing an heir.

We do know Renzhong tried pretty hard, because he had at least 18 empresses and other concubines who received formal titles on the historical record. Chances are that between them, there was at least 17 total pregnancies, but this is of course impossible to verify today.

Generally speaking, it would be incredibly difficult for one person to be pregnant as many times as Queen Anne was. Hence male monarchs with harems were more likely to have exceeded her count, but conversely, the historical record on pregnancies of consorts or concubines are rather less than meticulous.

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    @Semaphore. Nice answer. I almost didn't post this question as I didn't think there would be anything close to Queen Anne's 'record'. Dec 6, 2017 at 0:10
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – T.E.D.
    Dec 7, 2017 at 21:01
  • 17 pregnancies is not an extraordinary record if I compare to some similar cases on the very small sample of my female ancestors 3 or 4 generations ago.
    – Pere
    Sep 11, 2022 at 21:06

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