The head of state of Andorra is the president of France and the bishop of Urgell. Are there any other examples where the head of the state or government is from some other country?


3 Answers 3


Commonwealth has been mentioned. Apart from that:

  • Vatican, where the head of state is customarily from another country
  • current prime minister of Czech Republic is from Slovakia (moved there after the breakup of Czechoslovakia)
  • current president of Georgia is from France (though born to Georgian immigrants)
  • current prime minister of Lebanon was born in Saudi Arabia (but his father was Lebanese)

There were of course many more such cases in the past.

  • 1
    I think you can strike "customarily." The Vatican has no native population.
    – phoog
    Commented Jul 12, 2019 at 13:14
  • @phoog Although that's only true for a literal interpretation of native. That's to say while you can't legally be born there, there is a citizenship which includes people ordinarily resident there.
    – origimbo
    Commented Jul 12, 2019 at 17:16
  • @origimbo and as far as I understand it, the pope is always a citizen, so if citizenship makes one not "from another country" then the Vatican never counts, while if on the contrary foreign birth makes one "from another country" then the Vatican always counts. Either way, "customarily" implies some sort of exception could exist, but I don't see how there could be such an exception.
    – phoog
    Commented Jul 12, 2019 at 17:48
  • @phoog theoretically, someone could have Vatican citizenship before being elected Pope and that would be an exception to the typical pattern
    – eques
    Commented Jul 12, 2019 at 18:45
  • @eques regardless of when any pope acquires Vatican citizenship, he is not a citizen of the Vatican from birth, and he is a citizen of the Vatican during his papacy. I don't see how acquiring Vatican citizenship before being elected would make him any more or less "from" the Vatican. He either isn't, if you're going by birth citizenship, or he is, if you're going by citizenship during his reign.
    – phoog
    Commented Jul 12, 2019 at 19:06

If you go back in time enough, there are plenty of examples:

  • The British Royal family initially came from Germany, and even if one contends that they're now English that still leaves them Head of State of the three countries in the Union that aren't England, on top of being the Head of State of a heap of former colonies.

  • The Spanish Royal family came from Austria at one point, and then came from France. (Amusingly, Spain's current Bourbon King is among the claimants to the throne of France.)

  • The last line of Russian Tzars from Peter III were from the German House of Oldenburg that reigned in Denmark -- which, incidentally, was also foreign.

  • Hungary had an Austrian Head of State from the moment when the crown fell into Habsburg hands after the Ottomans invaded all the way to WW1.

  • [Pick any number of other examples where a foreigner ended up a monarch.]

  • The Pope gets elected amongst candidates from a laundry list of countries.

  • The Knights of Malta would similarly elect their ruler from one of the 8 langues

Examples are less frequent of late, since there usually is some citizenship requirement to get elected as President or what have you. But there are a few countries that allow a Head of State or Head of Government to have dual nationality that make it possible, and other countries where you don't necessarily need to have been born a citizen to qualify -- naturalization works.

The case of Andorra is the product of history, and the Head of State basically has no role to speak of. I'm not privy with the specifics but you might find other similar oddballs if you dig into the world's laundry list of microstates.

  • 1
    Perhaps even more relevant for the British Royal Family is that they are arguably the head-of-state of a number of Commonwealth realms - Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc. I say arguably, because in Australia at least it appears there is literally a dispute as to who is head of state: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_head_of_state_dispute Commented Jul 12, 2019 at 11:34
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    There’s aren’t 4 kingdoms in the Union. There is one United Kingdom with four (or three and a bit) countries. But only one crown – no Queen of England, Queen of Scotland etc., just a Queen of the UK.
    – owjburnham
    Commented Jul 12, 2019 at 12:17
  • 1
    Why would one contend that the British royal family is English, rather than British? That makes no sense, especially since there is no concept of English citizenship. (For example, in the recent Scottish independence referendum, the qualification for voting was residence in Scotland because, again, there's no citizenship.) Commented Jul 12, 2019 at 20:18
  • For consistency with the argument about the Windsors, you should claim that Felipe VI of Spain is a Castilian who happens to be head of state of the kingdoms of Aragón and Navarra (and I believe he also claims Naples, Sicily, Sardinia, and maybe a bit more). Commented Jul 12, 2019 at 20:31

The biggest example is the countries that have the Monarch of the United Kingdom as their head of state. Currently there are fifteen, plus the UK itself.

For many of these states the Queen is not simply from another country, but may not be a citizen or resident of the country, and theoretically may never have visited it. (I believe the current Queen has visited all the states that acknowledge her as head of state, but it took her 30 years to visit St Kitts)

  • 2
    Is the Queen technically a citizen of the UK, even? It's not clear that the concept applies. Commented Jul 12, 2019 at 20:31
  • There is technically a weird duality in effect where Queen Elizabeth II does and yet kind of doesn't apply in this case. Her title and authority as Queen of the UK doesn't actually apply to Canada, and her title and authority as Queen of Canada doesn't apply in the UK. Plus she has residences in Canada, she has just never actually lived in them for very long, or recently... Commented Jul 12, 2019 at 22:24

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