The shortest reign of a king was that of Louis XIX of France in 1830, lasting 20 minutes. During the July Revolution angry demonstrators demanded the abdication of Charles X and of his descendants, too, in favour of his cousin Louis Philippe. When Charles signed the document of abdication, the dauphin Louis Antoine was officially King of France. He also agreed to abdicate, twenty minutes later. However, Louis XIX was not crowned, no inauguration ceremonies were held during his 20 minutes reign, only discussions whether to abdicate or not.
So there is still room for Sri Lanka to present the true record holder, even more unlucky than Louis XIX, who went into exile. Vira Bahu I (Veerabahu I) was a fully inaugurated king in Polonnaruwa in 1196. He succeeded his father Nissanka Malla and was enthroned in the late evening and did not survive the night. At dawn, he was killed by the commander-in-chief of his army, Tavuru Senevirat, who decided that Vira Bahu was not a worthy successor of his powerful father, who was the last king of the Polonnaruwa period to rule the whole island.
The next eighteen years saw twelve changes of rulers, due to the rivalries between two royal clans and, most of all, the supreme power of the army-commander, who used rulers as puppets or killed them. Lilavati, once queen of Parakramabahu I, was luckier to be placed on the throne three times. This period saw at least four invasions of Tamil armies from southern India. The Indian incursions finally culminated in the devastating campaign of pillage of Kalinga Magha, from which the Sinhalese kingdom centred in the Cultural Triangel, then called “King`s country” (Rajarata), never recovered.
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