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Here Are the ‘Short Kings’ Who Run the World’s Biggest Countries Despite Being 5’8” and Under

Rishi Sunak became Britains’s third prime minister this year on Tuesday, and, like his predecessor’s tenure, he is historically short.

SO WHAT

These men are proving that size isn’t everything.

THE SHORT KINGS

Sunak, who took over after Liz Truss’ resignation as U.K. prime minister last week, joined a growing list of male world leaders under 5 feet, 9 inches tall.

Vladimir Putin, president of Russia

(Dima Korotayev/Epsilon/Getty Images)

Height: 5’7″

Critics of the Russian leader’s invasion of Ukraine have also taken swipes at his stature, with Tory MP Julian Lewis saying earlier this year that Putin is “a robotic, sneering psychopath, firmly in the grip of ‘small man syndrome.'”

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, president of Ukraine

Height: 5’7″

Social media commenters pointed out the Ukrainian president looked noticeably shorter than actor Tom Cruise, who is somewhat famously diminutive, when the two men met in October 2019.

Emmanuel Macron, president of France

(Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Height: 5’8″

Washington Post reporter Rick Noak noted Tuesday that Macron has a lot in common with the new British prime minister, including that they are “roughly the same height.”

Michael D. Higgins, president of Ireland

(Rob Stothard/Getty Images)

Height: 5’3″

In 2015, Mark Patrick Hederman, then the abbot of Glenstal Abbey, accused the media of bullying Higgins over his height.

Kim Jong-un, president of North Korea

(Carl Court/Getty Images)

Height: Between 5’7″ and 5’4″

The North Korean president appears to be shorter than his commonly listed height of 5-foot-7. Experts have speculated Kim wears insoles that make him appear taller and is in reality only 5-foot-4.

Fumio Kishida, prime minister of Japan

(Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Height: 5’7″

Kishida had big shoes to fill when he took over as Japan’s prime minister from Shinzo Abe, 5-foot-nine, who was assassinated in July.

BIG PICTURE

The number of “short kings” ruling the world would seem to bely conventional wisdom and research about the importance of height as a leadership quality.

  • Ohio State University professor Tim Judge found in 2020 that U.S. presidents tend to be one-and-one-half inches taller than their electoral opponents, and that height advantage appears to have grown over time.
  • According to Judge, it’s been more than 100 years since Americans have elected a president shorter than the average American male at the time.
  • When asked to draw their “ideal leader,” 64% of participants in a 2011 study by Texas Tech University researchers sketched a taller-than-average figure.

Today, the average American male stands 5-foot-9.

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