The Wives And Girlfriends Of History’s Dictators

History may remember the strict policies, personalities, and terror that many dictators and tyrants have inflicted upon their people and country. However, their harshness doesn’t necessarily mean that they were solitary individuals. Like most other people, they have (or had) spouses or lovers by their side who either supported or were unaware of their significant others’ actions, no matter how extreme or cruel. Take a look to learn about these women, even though they exist in the shadow of their ruler companions.

Ana Paula dos Santos Is A Member Of The International Steering Committee

Picture of the dos Santos
Jean Catuffe/Getty Images
Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

Ana Paula dos Santos is the wife of Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos. She was originally a fashion model and came to know her husband while working as a flight attendant on the presidential aircraft.

Although she has a degree in teaching, law, and is a member of the International Steering Committee, her husband is known for his countless atrocities, including torture and murder, during the 27-year-old Civil War that raged under his rule. Santos stepped down from the presidency in 2017.

Chantal Biya Is Looking For Solutions To HIV And AIDS

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SEBASTIEN BOZON/AFP via Getty Images
SEBASTIEN BOZON/AFP via Getty Images

The First Lady of Cameroon and wife of President Paul Biya, Chantal is considered to be a trendsetter in terms of fashion and can even be spotted alongside Michelle Obama, Paris Hilton, and Pope Francis. Biya is a member of African Synergy, a club that addresses AIDS and HIV in various parts of Africa.

Her husband, on the other hand, has been in office for more than 30 years, and at one point removed restrictions on term limits. He has also been accused of executing protesters and using force to prevent political opposition. According to African Review, in 2015 his salary was more than 229 times more than the national average.

Eva Braun Desired More Of Adolf Hitler’s Attention

Picture of Eva Braun and Hitler
ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images
ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images

Eva Braun was the longtime companion of Adolf Hitler, with the two meeting in 1929 when Hitler was 42 and she was just 17. Although it is unclear when the two formally began dating, their relationship was rocky, with Braun attempting to take her life on several occasions to get her lover’s attention.

During their marriage, Hitler did not like to be seen with Braun, as he believed it would diminish his image of power. After Hitler’s attempt to dominate Europe and his extermination of millions of innocent people, the couple took their lives in a bunker in Berlin in 1945 as the Allied Forces closed in.

Constancia Mangue Is An Advocate For Children And Women’s Rights

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JEROME DELAY/AFP via Getty Images
JEROME DELAY/AFP via Getty Images

Constancia Mangue is the First Lady of Equatorial Guinea and the wife of President Teodor Obiang Nguema Mbasogo. Constancia founded the nongovernmental organization, the Equatorial Guinean Child Aid Committee in advocacy for women’s and children’s rights, and is the mother of Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, the successor to the presidency.

Her husband once served as the head of the former president’s National Guard before taking power under a coup. He has been accused of cannibalism of his opponents to gain power and sexual prowess. He is Africa’s longest-serving leader.

Asma al-Assad Met Her Husband In London

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STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP via Getty Images
STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP via Getty Images

Asma al-Assad is the wife of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The two met in London, where she worked as an investment banker at J.P. Morgan while Assad was simultaneously studying to become an eye surgeon.

However, Asma has been the center of controversy for her elegant lifestyle while Syria is engulfed in a bloody civil war. Under al-Assad, the civil war has caused more than 400,000 deaths, with the president being accused of censoring the media, using chemical weapons on his own citizens, and imprisoning those who oppose him.

Imelda Romualdez Marcos Used The State’s Money For Her Own Enjoyment

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Bettmann/Getty Images
Bettmann/Getty Images

Imelda Romualdez Marcos married Ferdinand Marcos in 1954 and became the First Lady of the Philippines after her husband became president in 1965. During her 21 years as First Lady, she and her husband are believed to have illegally amassed a multi-billion U.S. dollar personal fortune.

Although the country was in an economic crisis, she was known for spending the state’s money on her own enjoyment without any regard. Her husband placed the country under martial law in 1972, a time in which thousands were jailed, tortured, and killed.

Sara Nazarbayeva Has Won Awards For Her Humanitarian Work

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David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images
David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images

The wife of Nursultan Nazarbayev, the former President of Kazakhstan, Sara is an economics engineer and the founder and chair of Bobek, an international children’s charity fund. For her work, she was awarded the Ihsan Doğramacı Family Health Foundation Prize from the World Health Organization in 1997.

Her husband was president for 25 years and has been accused of human rights abuses and violence against women. Supposedly, he has never held an election that meets international standards and won by 97% of the vote in 2015.

Not Much Is Known About Ri Sol-Ju

Picture of Kim and wife
Pyeongyang Press Corps/Pool/Getty Images
Pyeongyang Press Corps/Pool/Getty Images

Ri Sol-ju is the wife of North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un and referred to as the “Kate Middleton of North Korea.” She was first recognized as Kim Jong Un’s wife after posing for a photo with him in 2012. Little is known about her, although rumors have been circulating, with one being that she was executed by her husband’s regime.

Her husband is described as living a “seven-star party lifestyle,” while the country is experiencing astronomical poverty and starvation rates. North Korea is also currently in contention with various other nations.

Cilia Flores Has Power Of Her Own

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Lokman Ilhan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Lokman Ilhan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The wife of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, Cilia Flores is known as the “First Fighter” after succeeding her husband as the first female president of the National Assembly, while also serving as the Attorney General. However, she has been accused of nepotism after installing 40 of her family members in positions of power.

Coming into power in 2013 during an economic crisis, President Maduro established that he did not need congressional approval to pass a bill, and his position has been in dispute since 2019.

Grace Mugabe Wasn’t Always The “First Lady”

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MUJAHID SAFODIEN/AFP via Getty Images
MUJAHID SAFODIEN/AFP via Getty Images

Grace Mugabe was 41 years younger than her husband, President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. Starting as Mugabe’s secretary, the two began having an affair in the ’80s, with three of their children being born while Mugabe was married to his wife.

While citizens of the country regarded her as a “disgrace” for her lifestyle, she considered herself the “mother of the nation.” President Mugabe was the leader of Zimbabwe since 1980 and was suspected of meddling in elections and establishing camps to silence activists. The president died on September 6, 2019.

Inkhosikati LaMbikiza Is The “Senior Wife”

Inkhosikati LaMbikiza and husband
Chris Jackson/Getty Images
Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Queen Inkhosikati LaMbikiza is the “senior wife” of King Mswati III of Swaziland’s 15 wives. Under Swahili tradition, she earned a degree in law although she’s not allowed to practice due to the possibility of favoritism. She is also the first Swazi queen to record a gospel album.

Her husband, the king, has had four women leave his harem on account of physical and emotional abuse, and supposedly used $50 million of Swaziland’s budget for himself and his family. With 1.2 million subjects, he is one of the world’s last absolute monarchies.

The Many Wives Of Saudi Arabian King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud

Picture of President Abdullah
HASSAN AMMAR/AFP via Getty Images
HASSAN AMMAR/AFP via Getty Images

Over the course of his lifetime, King Abdullah had more than 30 wives, although little is known about any of them. Marriage is used as a practice to establish alliances in Saudi Arabia, with Abdulla’s father marrying a daughter of every tribal chief in his realm.

King Abdullah supposedly fathered over 35 children, with his wives having private influence over the politics of the country. The House of Saud has ruled Saudi Arabia since its creation in 1932. Abdullah was strongly opposed to any changes to government and enforced strict capital punishment.

Sabika bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa Is Head Of The Higher National Committee

Sabika bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa speaking
PIERRE VERDY/AFP/GettyImages
PIERRE VERDY/AFP/GettyImages

Sabika bint Ibraham Al Khalifa is the first wife of King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain. She is an advocate for women’s and children’s rights both in her own country and around the world, having addressed the United Nations General Assembly on the issue. She’s also the head of the Higher National Committee.

Bahrain has been run by the Al Khalifa dynasty since 1783, with Hamad declaring himself king in 2002. After an uprising in 2011, Hamad began banning all public gatherings, as well as revoking the citizenship of his opposition on top of torture and execution.

Zeinab Suma Is Not Well-Loved By The Gambian People

Photo of Zeinab Suma
Turkish Presidency / Yasin Bulbul/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Turkish Presidency / Yasin Bulbul/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

While many reports regarding Zeinab Suma, the wife of Gambian President Yahya Jammeh, are on the negative side, she has a following on social media. On her page, she posts photos of herself doing philanthropic work out of the limelight as well as a lot of glamour shots.

Supposedly, the president achieved power by silencing the people, and according to Reuters, his rule has been powered by paranoia. This has resulted in him imprisoning many people that he knows personally for fear of being overruled.

Clara Petacci Was Mussolini’s Mistress And Paid For It With Her Life

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ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images

While still married to his wife Rachele Mussolini, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini was involved in a long-lasting relationship with Clara Petacci. Twenty years his younger, she was not the only mistress of Mussolini, although she is remembered more than others.

Benito Mussolini was the leader of the National Fascist Party, the dictator of Italy, and the founder of fascism. He is regarded as one of the main inspirations for other totalitarian rulers, including Adolf Hitler. However, his political ideals and actions resulted in his execution alongside his lover, Clara, in 1945.

Suzanne Mubarak Is Being Investigated For Crimes Against The State

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PASCAL GEORGE/AFP via Getty Images
PASCAL GEORGE/AFP via Getty Images

Suzanne Mubarak is the widow of Egyptian former president Hosni Mubarak and was the First Lady of the country during her husband’s rule from 1981 to 2011. She founded the Cairo Child Museum and served as Goodwill Ambassador of the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization.

However, she greatly benefited from her husband’s immense wealth of billions while 40% of Egyptians were earning wages that were hardly enough to feed themselves, let alone their families. She is now being probed for crimes against the state.

Safia Farkash Was Muammar Gaddafi’s Second Wife

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Georges MERILLON/GAMMA/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
Georges MERILLON/GAMMA/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Safia Farkash is the widow of the former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, making her the former First lady of Libya. She met Gaddafi while he was hospitalized with appendicitis in 1970 and became his second wife and mother to all eight of his children. In 2008, she was elected vice president to the African First ladies Organization although shas never been involved.

Her husband was a highly controversial leader that opposed many social and economic reforms. He was considered a dictator by many of his subjects and was posthumously accused of sexual abuse as well as violating human rights and financing global terrorism.

Nadezhda Alliluyeva Took Her Own Life

Picture of the Stalins
Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images
Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images

The second wife of Joseph Stalin, Nadezhda Alliluyeva worked as a secretary for Bolshevik leaders including Vladimir Lenin and Stalin before becoming an engineer. However, she had a complicated relationship with Stalin, who wanted her to live a domestic life when she desired a professional career. In 1932, she took her own life after an argument with her husband.

In the case of Stalin, after governing the Soviet Union as a collective leadership, he eventually consolidated power and essentially became the dictator by the 1930s. Under his rule, Stalin instituted the “Great Purge” in which he imprisoned and executed over 700,000 people between 1934 and 1939 to gain complete control over the people and country.

Hinda Déby Helps Advise Her Husband

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Mustafa Yalcin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Mustafa Yalcin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Hinda Déby is considered to be the “New First Lady,” regardless that her husband, President Idriss Déby Itno of Chad, has been married several times. According to President Déby Itno, “[She] helps advise me with every single decision I make. At one point, she gave a speech about the role of women in the pursuit of peace, which sparked conversation around the world.

President Déby Itno is backed by the United States and came into his position after he led a coup to overthrow the last president in 1990. Since taking office, he has run mainly unchallenged, although he helped instigate a proxy war between Chad and Sudan throughout the 2000s.

Jeannette Kagame Has Made Significant Efforts To Fight HIV/AIDS

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Scott Wintrow/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival
Scott Wintrow/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival

Jeannette Kagame is married to Paul Kagame and is the First lady of Rwanda. She returned to her country after the genocide of 2004. There, she began speaking out for women and children’s rights as well as finding a solution to the HIV and AIDS epidemic. Kagame, among other political leaders, are credited with cutting new HIV infections by half and drastically increasing testing.

Although the president helped the country heal from the war and genocide, it also resulted in firm restrictions on freedom of speech and expression. In his last election, the authorities prevented most other political parties from voting, with some being accused of kidnapping, exiting, and killing the opposition.