After the Economist compared Liz Truss’ time as the U.K.’s prime minister to the shelf-life of lettuce, staff members from the Daily Star purchased a head of lettuce, put a blonde wig on it and began a live stream on Youtube. Viewers could then see if Truss’s reign would outlast the lettuce, which has a typical shelf life of about ten days. The Youtube live stream started on October 14, 2022. Truss announced her resignation on October 20, 2022, leaving the head of lettuce victorious.
While Truss was only in office for 44 days — of which ten were spent mourning the passing of Queen Elizabeth II — other historical world leaders served shorter tenures. Here are four other world leaders who wouldn't have outlasted a head of lettuce.
1. King Louis XIX – 20 Minutes
King Louis XIX of France holds the title of the shortest reigning monarch, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. In 1830, France began its second revolution — the July Revolution — after King Charles X published an ordinance of restrictions that would clash with the Charter of 1814, a constitution that upheld rights won by the French Revolution.
King Charles X was forced to renounce the throne to his favored cousin Louis Philippe I. Before that, however, Louis Antoine (Louis XIX), Charles’ oldest son, became king for 20 minutes before he also had to renounce the throne. Louis Antoine and his wife, Marie Thérèse — daughter of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette — then moved to Edinburgh, Scotland.
2. Tsar Michael II — Less than a Day
Tsar Michael II also had a short-lived reign due to revolution. He was Tsar Nicholas II's brother and on March 15, 1917, Tsar Nicholas abdicated the throne due to the Russian Revolution, leaving the throne to Michael instead of his own son, Alexis. But when Tsar Michael II ascended the throne, he surrendered in less than a day.
Acknowledging the revolution at hand and not wanting to be tsar, Michael abdicated the throne and eventually met the same fate as his brother.
3. Lady Jane Grey – Nine Days
It’s said that when Lady Jane Grey discovered she was the queen of England, she fainted. After the death of Edward VI, son of King Henry VIII, many Protestants in power feared that Mary Tudor, King Henry’s oldest surviving daughter and a Catholic, would ascend to the throne.
Grey’s father-in-law and Edward’s regent, John Dudley, put Grey on the throne instead. However, after nine days, Mary, along with her army and supporters, took back the throne. Grey and her husband were imprisoned, but Queen Mary offered them a pardon if they converted to Catholicism after some time. Grey and her husband refused, and they were executed.
4. William Henry Harrison — 32 Days
William Henry Harrison was the shortest-serving U.S. president and gave the longest inauguration speech in American history, at 8,445 words. Harrison insisted on giving a lengthy inauguration speech in the freezing March rain without a hat and a coat.
After his speech, some believe he contracted pneumonia and died 32 days into office. However, others debate that Harrison died due to contaminated water in the White House. His time as president may have been longer than the shelf life of a head of lettuce, but it’s still worth mentioning.