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Elizabeth II Edit

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For other uses, see Elizabeth II (disambiguation).

Elizabeth II
Elizabeth in 2015

Queen of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms[show]

Reign 6 February 1952 – present
Coronation 2 June 1953
Predecessor George VI
Heir apparent Charles, Prince of Wales
Prime Ministers See list
Born 21 April 1926 (age 91)

17 Bruton Street, Mayfair, London, England, UK

Spouse Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (m. 1947)
Issue

Detail

  • Charles, Prince of Wales
  • Anne, Princess Royal
  • Prince Andrew, Duke of York
  • Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex
Full name
Elizabeth Alexandra Mary
House Windsor
Father George VI
Mother Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon
Signature

Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary; born 21 April 1926[a]) has been Queen of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand since 6 February 1952. Additionally, she is Head of the Commonwealth and Queen of 12 countries that have become independent since her accession: Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize, Antigua and Barbuda, and Saint Kitts and Nevis.[b]

Elizabeth was born in London as the first child of the Duke and Duchess of York, later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, and she was educated privately at home. Her father acceded to the throne on the abdication of his brother Edward VIII in 1936, from which time she was the heir presumptive. She began to undertake public duties during the Second World War, serving in the Auxiliary Territorial Service. In 1947, she married Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, a former prince of Greece and Denmark, with whom she has four children: Charles, Prince of Wales; Anne, Princess Royal; Prince Andrew, Duke of York; and Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex.

Elizabeth's many historic visits and meetings include a state visit to the Republic of Ireland and visits to or from five popes. She has seen major constitutional changes, such as devolution in the United Kingdom, Canadian patriation, and the decolonisation of Africa. She has reigned through various wars and conflicts involving many of her realms. She is the world's oldest reigning monarch as well as Britain's longest-lived. In 2015, she surpassed the reign of her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, to become the longest-reigning British monarch and the longest-reigning queen regnant and female head of state in world history. In October 2016, she became the longest currently reigning monarch and head of statefollowing the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand.

Times of personal significance have included the births and marriages of her children, her coronation in 1953, and the celebration of milestones such as her Silver, Golden, and Diamond Jubilees in 1977, 2002, and 2012, respectively. In 2017 she became the first British monarch to commemorate a Sapphire Jubilee. Moments of sorrow for her include the death of her father in 1952 at age 56; the assassination of Prince Philip's uncle Lord Mountbatten in 1979; the breakdown of her children's marriages in 1992 (her annus horribilis); the death in 1997 of her son's former wife, Diana, Princess of Wales; and the deaths of her mother and sister in 2002. Elizabeth has occasionally faced republican sentiments and press criticism of the royal family; however, support for the monarchy remains high, as does her personal popularity.

Contents Edit

 [hide] 

    • 1Early life
    • 2Heir presumptive
      • 2.1Second World War
      • 2.2Marriage
    • 3Reign
      • 3.1Accession and coronation
      • 3.2Continuing evolution of the Commonwealth
      • 3.3Acceleration of decolonisation
      • 3.4Silver Jubilee
      • 3.51980s
      • 3.61990s
      • 3.7Golden Jubilee
      • 3.8Diamond and Sapphire Jubilees and after
    • 4Public perception and character
      • 4.1Finances
    • 5Titles, styles, honours, and arms
      • 5.1Titles and styles
      • 5.2Arms
    • 6Issue
    • 7Ancestry
    • 8See also
    • 9Notes
    • 10References
    • 11Bibliography
    • 12External links

Early life Edit

Princess Elizabeth aged three, April 1929

Elizabeth was born at 02:40 (GMT) on 21 April 1926, during the reign of her paternal grandfather, King George V. Her father, the Duke of York (later King George VI), was the second son of the King. Her mother, the Duchess of York (later Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother), was the youngest daughter of Scottish aristocrat the Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne. She was delivered by Caesarean section at her maternal grandfather's London house: 17 Bruton Street, Mayfair.[2] She was baptised by the Anglican Archbishop of York, Cosmo Gordon Lang, in the private chapel of Buckingham Palace on 29 May,[3][c] and named Elizabeth after her mother, Alexandra after George V's mother, who had died six months earlier, and Mary after her paternal grandmother.[5] Called "Lilibet" by her close family,[6] based on what she called herself at first,[7] she was cherished by her grandfather George V, and during his serious illness in 1929 her regular visits were credited in the popular press and by later biographers with raising his spirits and aiding his recovery.[8]

Elizabeth's only sibling, Princess Margaret, was born in 1930. The two princesses were educated at home under the supervision of their mother and their governess, Marion Crawford.[9] Lessons concentrated on history, language, literature and music.[10] Crawford published a biography of Elizabeth and Margaret's childhood years entitled The Little Princesses in 1950, much to the dismay of the royal family.[11] The book describes Elizabeth's love of horses and dogs, her orderliness, and her attitude of responsibility.[12] Others echoed such observations: Winston Churchill described Elizabeth when she was two as "a character. She has an air of authority and reflectiveness astonishing in an infant."[13] Her cousin Margaret Rhodes described her as "a jolly little girl, but fundamentally sensible and well-behaved".[14]

Heir presumptive Edit

Princess Elizabeth aged seven, painted by Philip de László, 1933

During her grandfather's reign, Elizabeth was third in the line of succession to the throne, behind her uncle Edward, Prince of Wales, and her father, the Duke of York. Although her birth generated public interest, she was not expected to become queen, as the Prince of Wales was still young. Many people believed that he would marry and have children of his own.[15] When her grandfather died in 1936 and her uncle succeeded as Edward VIII, she became second-in-line to the throne, after her father. Later that year, Edward abdicated, after his proposed marriage to divorced socialite Wallis Simpson provoked a constitutional crisis.[16]Consequently, Elizabeth's father became king, and she became heir presumptive. If her parents had had a later son, she would have lost her position as first-in-line, as her brother would have been heir apparent and above her in the line of succession.[17]

Elizabeth received private tuition in constitutional history from Henry Marten, Vice-Provost of Eton College,[18] and learned French from a succession of native-speaking governesses.[19] A Girl Guides company, the 1st Buckingham Palace Company, was formed specifically so that she could socialise with girls her own age.[20] Later, she was enrolled as a Sea Ranger.[19]

In 1939, Elizabeth's parents toured Canada and the United States. As in 1927, when her parents had toured Australia and New Zealand, Elizabeth remained in Britain, since her father thought her too young to undertake public tours.[21] Elizabeth "looked tearful" as her parents departed.[22] They corresponded regularly,[22] and she and her parents made the first royal transatlantic telephone call on 18 May.[21]

Second World War Edit

Elizabeth in Auxiliary Territorial Service uniform, April 1945

In September 1939, Britain entered the Second World War, which lasted until 1945. During the war, many of London's children were evacuated to avoid the frequent aerial bombing. The suggestion by senior politician Lord Hailsham[23] that the two princesses should be evacuated to Canada was rejected by Elizabeth's mother, who declared, "The children won't go without me. I won't leave without the King. And the King will never leave."[24] Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret stayed at Balmoral Castle, Scotland, until Christmas 1939, when they moved to Sandringham House, Norfolk.[25] From February to May 1940, they lived at Royal Lodge, Windsor, until moving to Windsor Castle, where they lived for most of the next five years.[26] At Windsor, the princesses staged pantomimes at Christmas in aid of the Queen's Wool Fund, which bought yarn to knit into military garments.[27] In 1940, the 14-year-old Elizabeth made her first radio broadcast during the BBC's Children's Hour, addressing other children who had been evacuated from the cities.[28] She stated: "We are trying to do all we can to help our gallant sailors, soldiers and airmen, and we are trying, too, to bear our share of the danger and sadness of war. We know, every one of us, that in the end all will be well."[28]

Elizabeth (far left) on the balcony of Buckingham Palace with her family and Winston Churchill on 8 May 1945

In 1943, Elizabeth undertook her first solo public appearance on a visit to the Grenadier Guards, of which she had been appointed colonel the previous year.[29] As she approached her 18th birthday, parliament changed the law so that she could act as one of five Counsellors of State in the event of her father's incapacity or absence abroad, such as his visit to Italy in July 1944.[30] In February 1945, she was appointed as an honorary second subaltern in the Auxiliary Territorial Service with the service number of 230873.[31]She trained as a driver and mechanic and was awarded the rank of honorary junior commander five months later.[32][33]

At the end of the war in Europe, on Victory in Europe Day, Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret mingled anonymously with the celebratory crowds in the streets of London. Elizabeth later said in a rare interview, "We asked my parents if we could go out and see for ourselves. I remember we were terrified of being recognised ... I remember lines of unknown people linking arms and walking down Whitehall, all of us just swept along on a tide of happiness and relief."[34]

During the war, plans were drawn up to quell Welsh nationalism by affiliating Elizabeth more closely with Wales. Proposals, such as appointing her Constable of Caernarfon Castle or a patron of Urdd Gobaith Cymru (the Welsh League of Youth), were abandoned for various reasons, which included a fear of associating Elizabeth with conscientious objectors in the Urdd, at a time when Britain was at war.[35] Welsh politicians suggested that she be made Princess of Wales on her 18th birthday. Home Secretary, Herbert Morrison supported the idea, but the King rejected it because he felt such a title belonged solely to the wife of a Prince of Wales and the Prince of Wales had always been the heir apparent.[36] In 1946, she was inducted into the Welsh Gorsedd of Bards at the National Eisteddfod of Wales.[37]

Princess Elizabeth went in 1947 on her first overseas tour, accompanying her parents through southern Africa. During the tour, in a broadcast to the British Commonwealth on her 21st birthday, she made the following pledge: "I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong."[38]

Marriage Edit

Main article: Wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Philip Mountbatten, Duke of Edinburgh

Elizabeth met her future husband, Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, in 1934 and 1937.[39] They are second cousins once removed through King Christian IX of Denmark and third cousins through Queen Victoria. After another meeting at the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth in July 1939, Elizabeth – though only 13 years old – said she fell in love with Philip and they began to exchange letters.[40] She was 21 when their engagement was officially announced on 9 July 1947.[41]

The engagement was not without controversy; Philip had no financial standing, was foreign-born (though a British subject who had served in the Royal Navy throughout the Second World War), and had sisters who had married German noblemen with Nazi links.[42] Marion Crawford wrote, "Some of the King's advisors did not think him good enough for her. He was a prince without a home or kingdom. Some of the papers played long and loud tunes on the string of Philip's foreign origin."[43] Later biographies reported that Elizabeth's mother initially opposed the union, dubbing Philip "The Hun".[44] In later life, however, the Queen Mother told biographer Tim Heald that Philip was "an English gentleman".[45]

Before the marriage, Philip renounced his Greek and Danish titles, officially converted from Greek Orthodoxy to Anglicanism, and adopted the style Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, taking the surname of his mother's British family.[46] Just before the wedding, he was created Duke of Edinburgh and granted the style His Royal Highness.[47]

Elizabeth and Philip were married on 20 November 1947 at Westminster Abbey. They received 2500 wedding gifts from around the world.[48] Because Britain had not yet completely recovered from the devastation of the war, Elizabeth required ration coupons to buy the material for her gown, which was designed by Norman Hartnell.[49] In post-war Britain, it was not acceptable for the Duke of Edinburgh's German relations, including his three surviving sisters, to be invited to the wedding.[50] The Duke of Windsor, formerly King Edward VIII, was not invited either.[51]

Elizabeth gave birth to her first child, Prince Charles, on 14 November 1948. One month earlier, the King had issued letters patent allowing her children to use the style and title of a royal prince or princess, to which they otherwise would not have been entitled as their father was no longer a royal prince.[52] A second child, Princess Anne, was born in 1950.[53]

Following their wedding, the couple leased Windlesham Moor, near Windsor Castle, until July 1949,[48] when they took up residence at Clarence House in London. At various times between 1949 and 1951, the Duke of Edinburgh was stationed in the British Crown Colony of Malta as a serving Royal Navy officer. He and Elizabeth lived intermittently in Malta for several months at a time in the hamlet of Gwardamanġa, at Villa Guardamangia, the rented home of Philip's uncle, Lord Mountbatten. The children remained in Britain.[54]

Reign Edit

Accession and coronation Edit

Main article: Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II

Coronation of Elizabeth II, 2 June 1953

During 1951, George VI's health declined and Elizabeth frequently stood in for him at public events. When she toured Canada and visited President Harry S. Truman in Washington, D.C., in October 1951, her private secretary, Martin Charteris, carried a draft accession declaration in case the King died while she was on tour.[55] In early 1952, Elizabeth and Philip set out for a tour of Australia and New Zealand by way of Kenya. On 6 February 1952, they had just returned to their Kenyan home, Sagana Lodge, after a night spent at Treetops Hotel, when word arrived of the death of the King and consequently Elizabeth's immediate accession to the throne. Philip broke the news to the new Queen.[56] Martin Charteris asked her to choose a regnal name; she chose to remain Elizabeth, "of course".[57] She was proclaimed queen throughout her realms and the royal party hastily returned to the United Kingdom.[58] She and the Duke of Edinburgh moved into Buckingham Palace.[59]

With Elizabeth's accession, it seemed probable that the royal house would bear her husband's name, becoming the House of Mountbatten, in line with the custom of a wife taking her husband's surname on marriage. The British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, and Elizabeth's grandmother, Queen Mary, favoured the retention of the House of Windsor, and so on 9 April 1952 Elizabeth issued a declaration that Windsor would continue to be the name of the royal house. The Duke complained, "I am the only man in the country not allowed to give his name to his own children."[60] In 1960, after the death of Queen Mary in 1953 and the resignation of Churchill in 1955, the surname Mountbatten-Windsor was adopted for Philip and Elizabeth's male-line descendants who do not carry royal titles.[61]

Coronation portrait of Elizabeth II and Philip, June 1953

Amid preparations for the coronation, Princess Margaret informed her sister that she wished to marry Peter Townsend, a divorcé‚ 16 years Margaret's senior, with two sons from his previous marriage. The Queen asked them to wait for a year; in the words of Martin Charteris, "the Queen was naturally sympathetic towards the Princess, but I think she thought – she hoped – given time, the affair would peter out."[62]Senior politicians were against the match and the Church of England did not permit remarriage after divorce. If Margaret had contracted a civil marriage, she would have been expected to renounce her right of succession.[63] Eventually, she decided to abandon her plans with Townsend.[64] In 1960, she married Antony Armstrong-Jones, who was created Earl of Snowdon the following year. They divorced in 1978; she did not remarry.[65]

Despite the death of Queen Mary on 24 March, the coronation on 2 June 1953 went ahead as planned, as Mary had asked before she died.[66] The ceremony in Westminster Abbey, with the exception of the anointing and communion, was televised for the first time.[67][d] Elizabeth's coronation gown was embroidered on her instructions with the floral emblems of Commonwealth countries:[71] English Tudor rose; Scots thistle; Welsh leek; Irish shamrock; Australian wattle; Canadian maple leaf; New Zealand silver fern; South African protea; lotus flowers for India and Ceylon; and Pakistan's wheat, cotton, and jute.[72]

Continuing evolution of the Commonwealth Edit

Further information: Historical development of the Commonwealth realms, from the Queen's accession

Elizabeth's realms (pink) and their territories and protectorates (dark red) at the beginning of her reign

From Elizabeth's birth onwards, the British Empire continued its transformation into the Commonwealth of Nations.[73] By the time of her accession in 1952, her role as head of multiple independent states was already established.[74] In 1953, the Queen and her husband embarked on a seven-month round-the-world tour, visiting 13 countries and covering more than 40,000 miles by land, sea and air.[75] She became the first reigning monarch of Australia and New Zealand to visit those nations.[76] During the tour, crowds were immense; three-quarters of the population of Australia were estimated to have seen her.[77] Throughout her reign, the Queen has made hundreds of state visits to other countries and tours of the Commonwealth; she is the most widely travelled head of state.[78]

In 1956, the British and French prime ministers, Sir Anthony Eden and Guy Mollet, discussed the possibility of France joining the Commonwealth. The proposal was never accepted and the following year France signed the Treaty of Rome, which established the European Economic Community, the precursor to the European Union.[79] In November 1956, Britain and France invaded Egypt in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to capture the Suez Canal. Lord Mountbatten claimed the Queen was opposed to the invasion, though Eden denied it. Eden resigned two months later.[80]

Elizabeth and Commonwealth leaders at the 1960 Commonwealth Conference

The absence of a formal mechanism within the Conservative Party for choosing a leader meant that, following Eden's resignation, it fell to the Queen to decide whom to commission to form a government. Eden recommended that she consult Lord Salisbury, the Lord President of the Council. Lord Salisbury and Lord Kilmuir, the Lord Chancellor, consulted the British Cabinet, Winston Churchill, and the Chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee, resulting in the Queen appointing their recommended candidate: Harold Macmillan.[81]

The Suez crisis and the choice of Eden's successor led in 1957 to the first major personal criticism of the Queen. In a magazine, which he owned and edited,[82] Lord Altrincham accused her of being "out of touch".[83] Altrincham was denounced by public figures and slapped by a member of the public appalled by his comments.[84] Six years later, in 1963, Macmillan resigned and advised the Queen to appoint the Earl of Home as prime minister, advice that she followed.[85] The Queen again came under criticism for appointing the prime minister on the advice of a small number of ministers or a single minister.[85] In 1965, the Conservatives adopted a formal mechanism for electing a leader, thus relieving her of involvement.[86]

In 1957, she made a state visit to the United States, where she addressed the United Nations General Assemblyon behalf of the Commonwealth. On the same tour, she opened the 23rd Canadian Parliament, becoming the first monarch of Canada to open a parliamentary session.[87] Two years later, solely in her capacity as Queen of Canada, she revisited the United States and toured Canada.[87][88] In 1961, she toured Cyprus, India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Iran.[89] On a visit to Ghana the same year, she dismissed fears for her safety, even though her host, President Kwame Nkrumah, who had replaced her as head of state, was a target for assassins.[90] Harold Macmillan wrote, "The Queen has been absolutely determined all through ... She is impatient of the attitude towards her to treat her as ... a film star ... She has indeed 'the heart and stomach of a man' ... She loves her duty and means to be a Queen."[90] Before her tour through parts of Quebec in 1964, the press reported that extremists within the Quebec separatist movement were plotting Elizabeth's assassination.[91][92] No attempt was made, but a riot did break out while she was in Montreal; the Queen's "calmness and courage in the face of the violence" was noted.[93]

Elizabeth's pregnancies with Princes Andrew and Edward, in 1959 and 1963, mark the only times she has not performed the State Opening of the British parliament during her reign.[94] In addition to performing traditional ceremonies, she also instituted new practices. Her first royal walkabout, meeting ordinary members of the public, took place during a tour of Australia and New Zealand in 1970.[95]

Acceleration of decolonisation Edit

The Queen with Edward Heath and American First Lady Pat Nixon, 1970

The 1960s and 1970s saw an acceleration in the decolonisation of Africa and the Caribbean. Over 20 countries gained independence from Britain as part of a planned transition to self-government. In 1965, however, the Rhodesian Prime Minister, Ian Smith, in opposition to moves towards majority rule, declared unilateral independence from Britain while still expressing "loyalty and devotion" to Elizabeth. Although the Queen dismissed him in a formal declaration, and the international community applied sanctions against Rhodesia, his regime survived for over a decade.[96] As Britain's ties to its former empire weakened, the British government sought entry to the European Community, a goal it achieved in 1973.[97]

In February 1974, the British Prime Minister, Edward Heath, advised the Queen to call a general election in the middle of her tour of the Austronesian Pacific Rim, requiring her to fly back to Britain.[98] The election resulted in a hung parliament; Heath's Conservatives were not the largest party, but could stay in office if they formed a coalition with the Liberals. Heath only resigned when discussions on forming a coalition foundered, after which the Queen asked the Leader of the Opposition, Labour's Harold Wilson, to form a government.[99]

A year later, at the height of the 1975 Australian constitutional crisis, the Australian Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, was dismissed from his post by Governor-General Sir John Kerr, after the Opposition-controlled Senate rejected Whitlam's budget proposals.[100] As Whitlam had a majority in the House of Representatives, Speaker Gordon Scholes appealed to the Queen to reverse Kerr's decision. She declined, stating that she would not interfere in decisions reserved by the Constitution of Australia for the governor-general.[101] The crisis fuelled Australian republicanism.[100]

Silver Jubilee Edit

In 1977, Elizabeth marked the Silver Jubilee of her accession. Parties and events took place throughout the Commonwealth, many coinciding with her associated national and Commonwealth tours. The celebrations re-affirmed the Queen's popularity, despite virtually coincident negative press coverage of Princess Margaret's separation from her husband.[102] In 1978, the Queen endured a state visit to the United Kingdom by Romania's communist leader, Nicolae Ceaușescu, and his wife, Elena,[103] though privately she thought they had "blood on their hands".[104] The following year brought two blows: one was the unmasking of Anthony Blunt, former Surveyor of the Queen's Pictures, as a communist spy; the other was the assassination of her relative and in-law Lord Mountbatten by the Provisional Irish Republican Army.[105]

According to Paul Martin, Sr., by the end of the 1970s the Queen was worried that the Crown "had little meaning for" Pierre Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister.[106] Tony Benn said that the Queen found Trudeau "rather disappointing".[106] Trudeau's supposed republicanism seemed to be confirmed by his antics, such as sliding down banisters at Buckingham Palace and pirouetting behind the Queen's back in 1977, and the removal of various Canadian royal symbols during his term of office.[106] In 1980, Canadian politicians sent to London to discuss the patriation of the Canadian constitution found the Queen "better informed ... than any of the British politicians or bureaucrats".[106] She was particularly interested after the failure of Bill C-60, which would have affected her role as head of state.[106] Patriation removed the role of the British parliament from the Canadian constitution, but the monarchy was retained. Trudeau said in his memoirs that the Queen favoured his attempt to reform the constitution and that he was impressed by "the grace she displayed in public" and "the wisdom she showed in private".[107]

1980s Edit

Elizabeth riding Burmese at the 1986 Trooping the Colour ceremony

During the 1981 Trooping the Colour ceremony, six weeks before the wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales, and Lady Diana Spencer, six shots were fired at the Queen from close range as she rode down The Mall on her horse, Burmese. Police later discovered that the shots were blanks. The 17-year-old assailant, Marcus Sarjeant, was sentenced to five years in prison and released after three.[108] The Queen's composure and skill in controlling her mount were widely praised.[109]

From April to September 1982, the Queen was anxious[110] but proud[111] of her son, Prince Andrew, who was serving with British forces during the Falklands War. On 9 July, the Queen awoke in her bedroom at Buckingham Palace to find an intruder, Michael Fagan, in the room with her. In a serious lapse of security, assistance only arrived after two calls to the Palace police switchboard.[112] After hosting US President Ronald Reagan at Windsor Castle in 1982 and visiting his California ranch in 1983, the Queen was angered when his administration ordered the invasion of Grenada, one of her Caribbean realms, without informing her.[113]

Intense media interest in the opinions and private lives of the royal family during the 1980s led to a series of sensational stories in the press, not all of which were entirely true.[114] As Kelvin MacKenzie, editor of The Sun, told his staff: "Give me a Sunday for Monday splash on the Royals. Don't worry if it's not true—so long as there's not too much of a fuss about it afterwards."[115] Newspaper editor Donald Trelford wrote in The Observer of 21 September 1986: "The royal soap opera has now reached such a pitch of public interest that the boundary between fact and fiction has been lost sight of ... it is not just that some papers don't check their facts or accept denials: they don't care if the stories are true or not." It was reported, most notably in The Sunday Times of 20 July 1986, that the Queen was worried that Margaret Thatcher's economic policies fostered social divisions and was alarmed by high unemployment, a series of riots, the violence of a miners' strike, and Thatcher's refusal to apply sanctions against the apartheid regime in South Africa. The sources of the rumours included royal aide Michael Shea and Commonwealth Secretary-General Shridath Ramphal, but Shea claimed his remarks were taken out of context and embellished by speculation.[116] Thatcher reputedly said the Queen would vote for the Social Democratic Party – Thatcher's political opponents.[117] Thatcher's biographer John Campbell claimed "the report was a piece of journalistic mischief-making".[118] Belying reports of acrimony between them, Thatcher later conveyed her personal admiration for the Queen,[119] and the Queen gave two honours in her personal gift – membership in the Order of Merit and the Order of the Garter – to Thatcher after her replacement as prime minister by John Major.[120] Former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney said Elizabeth was a "behind the scenes force" in ending apartheid.[121][122]

In 1987, in Canada, Elizabeth publicly supported politically divisive constitutional amendments, prompting criticism from opponents of the proposed changes, including Pierre Trudeau.[121] The same year, the elected Fijian government was deposed in a military coup. As monarch of Fiji, Elizabeth supported the attempts of the Governor-General, Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau, to assert executive power and negotiate a settlement. Coup leader Sitiveni Rabuka deposed Ganilau and declared Fiji a republic.[123] By the start of 1991, republican feeling in Britain had risen because of press estimates of the Queen's private wealth – which were contradicted by the Palace – and reports of affairs and strained marriages among her extended family.[124] The involvement of younger members of the royal family in the charity game show It's a Royal Knockout was ridiculed,[125] and the Queen was the target of satire.[126]

1990s Edit

In 1991, in the wake of coalition victory in the Gulf War, the Queen became the first British monarch to address a joint meeting of the United States Congress.[127]

Philip and Elizabeth, October 1992

In a speech on 24 November 1992, to mark the 40th anniversary of her accession, Elizabeth called 1992 her annus horribilis, meaning horrible year.[128]In March, her second son, Prince Andrew, Duke of York, and his wife, Sarah, separated; in April, her daughter, Princess Anne, divorced Captain Mark Phillips;[129] during a state visit to Germany in October, angry demonstrators in Dresden threw eggs at her;[130] and, in November, a large fire broke out at Windsor Castle, one of her official residences. The monarchy came under increased criticism and public scrutiny.[131] In an unusually personal speech, the Queen said that any institution must expect criticism, but suggested it be done with "a touch of humour, gentleness and understanding".[132] Two days later, the Prime Minister, John Major, announced reforms to the royal finances planned since the previous year, including the Queen paying income tax from 1993 onwards, and a reduction in the civil list.[133] In December, Prince Charles and his wife, Diana, formally separated.[134] The year ended with a lawsuit as the Queen sued The Sun newspaper for breach of copyright when it published the text of her annual Christmas message two days before it was broadcast. The newspaper was forced to pay her legal fees and donated £200,000 to charity.[135]

In the years to follow, public revelations on the state of Charles and Diana's marriage continued.[136] Even though support for republicanism in Britain seemed higher than at any time in living memory, republicanism was still a minority viewpoint, and the Queen herself had high approval ratings.[137]Criticism was focused on the institution of the monarchy itself and the Queen's wider family rather than her own behaviour and actions.[138] In consultation with her husband and the Prime Minister, John Major, as well as the Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, and her private secretary, Robert Fellowes, she wrote to Charles and Diana at the end of December 1995, saying that a divorce was desirable.[139]

In August 1997, a year after the divorce, Diana was killed in a car crash in Paris. The Queen was on holiday with her extended family at Balmoral. Diana's two sons by Charles – Princes Williamand Harry – wanted to attend church and so the Queen and Prince Philip took them that morning.[140] After that single public appearance, for five days the Queen and the Duke shielded their grandsons from the intense press interest by keeping them at Balmoral where they could grieve in private,[141] but the royal family's seclusion and the failure to fly a flag at half-mast over Buckingham Palace caused public dismay.[122][142] Pressured by the hostile reaction, the Queen agreed to return to London and do a live television broadcast on 5 September, the day before Diana's funeral.[143] In the broadcast, she expressed admiration for Diana and her feelings "as a grandmother" for the two princes.[144] As a result, much of the public hostility evaporated.[144]

In November 1997, the Queen and her husband held a reception at Banqueting House to mark their golden wedding anniversary.[145] She made a speech and praised Philip for his role as a consort, referring to him as "my strength and stay".[145]

Golden Jubilee Edit

Elizabeth visiting the United States in 2007

In 2002, Elizabeth marked her Golden Jubilee. Her sister and mother died in February and March respectively, and the media speculated whether the Jubilee would be a success or a failure.[146] She again undertook an extensive tour of her realms, which began in Jamaica in February, where she called the farewell banquet "memorable" after a power cut plunged the King's House, the official residence of the governor-general, into darkness.[147] As in 1977, there were street parties and commemorative events, and monuments were named to honour the occasion. A million people attended each day of the three-day main Jubilee celebration in London,[148] and the enthusiasm shown by the public for the Queen was greater than many journalists had expected.[149]

Though generally healthy throughout her life, in 2003 she had keyhole surgery on both knees. In October 2006, she missed the opening of the new Emirates Stadium because of a strained back muscle that had been troubling her since the summer.[150]

In May 2007, The Daily Telegraph, citing unnamed sources, reported that the Queen was "exasperated and frustrated" by the policies of the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, that she was concerned the British Armed Forces were overstretched in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that she had raised concerns over rural and countryside issues with Blair.[151] She was, however, said to admire Blair's efforts to achieve peace in Northern Ireland.[152] She became the first British monarch to celebrate a diamond wedding anniversary in November 2007.[153] On 20 March 2008, at the Church of Ireland St Patrick's Cathedral, Armagh, the Queen attended the first Maundy service held outside England and Wales.[154] At the invitation of the Irish President, Mary McAleese, the Queen made the first state visit to the Republic of Ireland by a British monarch in May 2011.[155]

The Queen addressed the United Nations for a second time in 2010, again in her capacity as Queen of all Commonwealth realms and Head of the Commonwealth.[156] The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, introduced her as "an anchor for our age".[157] During her visit to New York, which followed a tour of Canada, she officially opened a memorial garden for the British victims of the September 11 attacks.[157] The Queen's visit to Australia in October 2011 – her sixteenth visit since 1954 – was called her "farewell tour" in the press because of her age.[158]

Diamond and Sapphire Jubilees and after Edit

Elizabeth visiting Birmingham in July 2012 as part of her Diamond Jubilee tour

Her Diamond Jubilee in 2012 marked 60 years on the throne, and celebrations were held throughout her realms, the wider Commonwealth, and beyond. In a message released on Accession Day, Elizabeth wrote:

In this special year, as I dedicate myself anew to your service, I hope we will all be reminded of the power of togetherness and the convening strength of family, friendship and good neighbourliness ... I hope also that this Jubilee year will be a time to give thanks for the great advances that have been made since 1952 and to look forward to the future with clear head and warm heart.[159]

She and her husband undertook an extensive tour of the United Kingdom, while her children and grandchildren embarked on royal tours of other Commonwealth states on her behalf.[160][161] On 4 June, Jubilee beacons were lit around the world.[162] In November, the Queen and her husband celebrated their sapphire wedding anniversary.[163] On 18 December, she became the first British sovereign to attend a peacetime Cabinet meeting since George III in 1781.[164]

The Queen visiting the Home Office in 2015

The Queen, who opened the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, also opened the 2012 Summer Olympics and Paralympics in London, making her the first head of state to open two Olympic Games in two different countries.[165] For the London Olympics, she played herself in a short film as part of the opening ceremony, alongside Daniel Craig as James Bond.[166] On 4 April 2013, she received an honorary BAFTA for her patronage of the film industry and was called "the most memorable Bond girl yet" at the award ceremony.[167]

On 3 March 2013, Elizabeth was admitted to King Edward VII's Hospital as a precaution after developing symptoms of gastroenteritis. She returned to Buckingham Palace the following day.[168] A week later, she signed the new Commonwealth charter.[169] Because of her age and the need for her to limit travelling, in 2013 she chose not to attend the biennial meeting of Commonwealth heads of government for the first time in 40 years. She was represented at the summit in Sri Lanka by her son, Prince Charles.[170]

The Queen surpassed her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, to become the longest-lived British monarch in December 2007, and the longest-reigning British monarch on 9 September 2015.[171] On 9 September 2015 she was also celebrated in Canada as the "longest-reigning sovereign in Canada's modern era".[172] (King Louis XIV of France reigned over Canada (New France) for longer than Elizabeth.)[173] She is also the longest-reigning queen regnant in history,[174] and the world's oldest reigning monarch. She became the longest-serving current head of state following the death of King Bhumibol of Thailand on 13 October 2016.[175][176] On 6 February 2017, she became the first British monarch to commemorate a Sapphire Jubilee.[177]

Prince Philip retired from his official duties as the Queen's consort in August 2017.[178] The Queen herself does not intend to abdicate,[179] though Prince Charles is expected to take on more of her workload as Elizabeth, who celebrated her 91st birthday in 2017, carries out fewer public engagements.[180] Plans for her death and funeral have been extensively prepared by most British government and media organisations for decades.[181]

Public perception and character Edit

Main article: Personality and image of Queen Elizabeth II

Since Elizabeth rarely gives interviews, little is known of her personal feelings. As a constitutional monarch, she has not expressed her own political opinions in a public forum. She does have a deep sense of religious and civic duty, and takes her coronation oath seriously.[182] Aside from her official religious role as Supreme Governor of the established Church of England, she is personally a member of that church and the national Church of Scotland.[183] She has demonstrated support for inter-faith relations and has met with leaders of other churches and religions, including five popes: Pius XII, John XXIII, John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis.[184] A personal note about her faith often features in her annual Christmas message broadcast to the Commonwealth. In 2000, she spoke about the theological significance of the millennium marking the 2000th anniversary of the birth of Jesus:

Elizabeth and Ronald Reaganriding at Windsor, June 1982

She is patron of over 600 organisations and charities.[186] Her main leisure interests include equestrianism and dogs, especially her Pembroke Welsh Corgis.[187] Her lifelong love of corgis began in 1933 with Dookie, the first corgi owned by her family.[188][189] Scenes of a relaxed, informal home life have occasionally been witnessed; she and her family, from time to time, prepare a meal together and do the washing up afterwards.[190]

In the 1950s, as a young woman at the start of her reign, Elizabeth was depicted as a glamorous "fairytale Queen".[191] After the trauma of the Second World War, it was a time of hope, a period of progress and achievement heralding a "new Elizabethan age".[192] Lord Altrincham's accusation in 1957 that her speeches sounded like those of a "priggish schoolgirl" was an extremely rare criticism.[193] In the late 1960s, attempts to portray a more modern image of the monarchy were made in the television documentary Royal Family and by televising Prince Charles's investiture as Prince of Wales.[194] In public, she took to wearing mostly solid-colour overcoats and decorative hats, which allow her to be seen easily in a crowd.[195]

At her Silver Jubilee in 1977, the crowds and celebrations were genuinely enthusiastic,[196] but in the 1980s, public criticism of the royal family increased, as the personal and working lives of Elizabeth's children came under media scrutiny.[197] Elizabeth's popularity sank to a low point in the 1990s. Under pressure from public opinion, she began to pay income tax for the first time, and Buckingham Palace was opened to the public.[198] Discontent with the monarchy reached its peak on the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, though Elizabeth's personal popularity and support for the monarchy rebounded after her live television broadcast to the world five days after Diana's death.[199]

In November 1999, a referendum in Australia on the future of the Australian monarchy favoured its retention in preference to an indirectly elected head of state.[200] Polls in Britain in 2006 and 2007 revealed strong support for Elizabeth,[201] and in 2012, her Diamond Jubilee year, approval ratings hit 90 percent.[202] Referenda in Tuvalu in 2008 and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in 2009 both rejected proposals to become republics.[203]

Elizabeth has been portrayed in a variety of media by many notable artists, including painters Pietro Annigoni, Peter Blake, Chinwe Chukwuogo-Roy, Terence Cuneo, Lucian Freud, Damien Hirst, Juliet Pannett, and Tai-Shan Schierenberg.[204][205] Notable photographers of Elizabeth have included Cecil Beaton, Yousuf Karsh, Annie Leibovitz, Lord Lichfield, Terry O'Neill, John Swannell, and Dorothy Wilding. The first official portrait of Elizabeth was taken by Marcus Adams in 1926.[206]

Finances Edit

Sandringham House, Elizabeth's private residence in Norfolk

Further information: Finances of the British royal family

Elizabeth's personal fortune has been the subject of speculation for many years. In 1971 Jock Colville, who was her former private secretary and a director of her bank, Coutts, estimated her wealth at £2 million (equivalent to about £25 million today[207]).[208][209] In 1993, Buckingham Palace called estimates of £100 million "grossly overstated".[210] In 2002, she inherited an estate worth an estimated £70 million from her mother.[211] The Sunday Times Rich List 2017 estimated her personal wealth at £360 million, making her the 329th richest person in the UK.[212]

The Royal Collection, which includes thousands of historic works of art and the Crown Jewels, is not owned by the Queen personally but is held in trust,[213] as are her official residences, such as Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle,[214] and the Duchy of Lancaster, a property portfolio valued at £472 million in 2015.[215] Sandringham House and Balmoral Castle are personally owned by the Queen.[214] The British Crown Estate – with holdings of £12 billion in 2016[212] – is held in trust and cannot be sold or owned by Elizabeth in a personal capacity.[216]

Titles, styles, honours, and arms Edit

Titles and styles Edit

Main article: List of titles and honours of Queen Elizabeth II

Elizabeth has held many titles and honorary military positions throughout the Commonwealth, is Sovereign of many orders in her own countries, and has received honours and awards from around the world. In each of her realms she has a distinct title that follows a similar formula: Queen of Jamaica and her other realms and territories in Jamaica, Queen of Australia and her other realms and territories in Australia, etc. In the Channel Islands and Isle of Man, which are Crown dependencies rather than separate realms, she is known as Duke of Normandy and Lord of Mann, respectively. Additional styles include Defender of the Faith and Duke of Lancaster. When in conversation with the Queen, the practice is to initially address her as Your Majesty and thereafter as Ma'am.[217]

Arms Edit

See also: Flags of Elizabeth II

From 21 April 1944 until her accession, Elizabeth's arms consisted of a lozenge bearing the royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom differenced with a label of three points argent, the centre point bearing a Tudor rose and the first and third a cross of St George.[218] Upon her accession, she inherited the various arms her father held as sovereign. The Queen also possesses royal standards and personal flags for use in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, and elsewhere.[219]

Coat of arms of Princess Elizabeth (1944–1947)
Coat of arms of Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh (1947–1952)
Coat of arms of Elizabeth II in England, Wales and Northern Ireland
Coat of arms of Elizabeth II in Scotland
Coat of arms of Elizabeth II in Canada (one of three versions used in her reign)[e]

Issue Edit

Name Birth Marriage Their children Their grandchildren
Date Spouse
Prince Charles, Prince of Wales 14 November 1948 29 July 1981

Divorced 28 August 1996

Lady Diana Spencer Prince William, Duke of Cambridge Prince George of Cambridge

Princess Charlotte of Cambridge

Prince Henry of Wales
9 April 2005 Camilla Parker Bowles
Princess Anne, Princess Royal 15 August 1950 14 November 1973

Divorced 28 April 1992

Mark Phillips Peter Phillips Savannah Phillips

Isla Phillips

Zara Tindall Mia Tindall
12 December 1992 Timothy Laurence
Prince Andrew, Duke of York 19 February 1960 23 July 1986

Divorced 30 May 1996

Sarah Ferguson Princess Beatrice of York
Princess Eugenie of York
Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex 10 March 1964 19 June 1999 Sophie Rhys-Jones Lady Louise Windsor
James, Viscount Severn

Ancestry Edit

Main article:Caitlyn Marie Jenner (born October 28, 1949), formerly known as Bruce Jenner, is an American television personality and retired Olympic gold medal-winning decathlete.

Jenner was a college football player for the Graceland Yellowjackets before incurring a knee injury that required surgery. Coach L. D. Weldon, who had coached Olympic decathlete Jack Parker, convinced Jenner to try the decathlon. After intense training, Jenner won the 1976 Olympics decathlon event at the Montreal Olympic Games,[3][4] gaining fame as "an all-American hero".[5] Jenner set a third successive world record while winning the Olympics. The winner of the Olympic decathlon is traditionally given the unofficial title of "world's greatest athlete".[6] With that stature, Jenner subsequently established a career in television, film, writing, auto racing, business and as a Playgirl cover model.[7]

Jenner has six children with three successive wives: Chrystie Crownover, Linda Thompson, and Kris Jenner. Since 2007, Jenner has appeared on the reality television series Keeping Up with the Kardashians with Kris, their daughters Kendall and Kylie Jenner, and step-children Kourtney, Kim, Khloé, and Rob Kardashian. Previously identifying publicly as male, Jenner revealed her identity as a trans woman in April 2015, publicly announcing her name change from Bruce to Caitlyn in a July 2015 Vanity Fair cover story. Her name and gender change became official on September 25, 2015.[8] She has been called the most famous openly transgender woman in the world.[9][10] From 2015 to 2016, Jenner starred in the reality television series I Am Cait, which focused on her gender transition.

Contents Edit

 [hide] 

    • 1Early life
    • 2Olympic career
      • 2.1Early career
      • 2.2Olympic success
      • 2.3Impact
    • 3Post-Olympic career
      • 3.1Capitalizing on Olympic fame
        • 3.1.1Wheaties spokesperson
      • 3.2Television and film career
      • 3.3Motorsports career
      • 3.4Business
    • 4Gender transition
      • 4.1Coming out as a transgender woman
      • 4.2Media attention
      • 4.3Reception
        • 4.3.1General
        • 4.3.2LGBT community
        • 4.3.3Show and memoir
    • 5Politics
    • 6Personal life
      • 6.1Marriages
      • 6.2Legal issues
    • 7See also
    • 8References
    • 9External links

Early life Edit

Caitlyn Marie Jenner was born William Bruce Jenner on October 28, 1949, in Mount Kisco, New York,[11] to Esther Ruth (née McGuire) and William Hugh Jenner. Her father was an arborist.[12][13] She has two sisters, Lisa and Pam.[14] Her younger brother, Burt, was killed in a car accident in Canton, Connecticut on November 30, 1976, shortly after Jenner's success at the Olympic Games.[15][16] As a young child, Jenner was diagnosed with dyslexia.[17]

Jenner attended Sleepy Hollow High School in Sleepy Hollow, New York, for her freshman and sophomore years[18][19] and Newtown High Schoolin Newtown, Connecticut, for her junior and senior years, graduating in 1968.[20] Jenner earned a football scholarship and attended Graceland College (now Graceland University) in Lamoni, Iowa, but was forced to stop playing football because of a knee injury.[21] Recognizing Jenner's potential, Graceland track coach L. D. Weldon encouraged Jenner to switch to the decathlon.[22] In 1970, Jenner placed fifth while debuting in the decathlon at the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa.[23] Jenner graduated from Graceland College in 1973 with a degree in physical education.[24]

Olympic career Edit

All Olympic events and medals are for men's events and prior to her gender transition.

Early career Edit

At the 1972 U.S. Olympic trials in Eugene, Oregon, Jenner was in fifth place in the men's decathlon, behind Steve Gough and Andrew Pettes. Needing to make up a 19-second gap on Gough in the men's 1500 metres, Jenner qualified for the Olympic team by running a fast final lap, finishing 22 seconds ahead of the other runners. (Video on YouTube @25:58) This prompted the Eugene Register-Guard to ask: "Who's Jenner?"[25][26] Following the Olympic Trials, Jenner finished in tenth place in the decathlon at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich.[27] By watching Soviet Mykola Avilov win the event, Jenner was inspired to start an intense training regimen. "For the first time, I knew what I wanted out of life and that was it, and this guy has it. I literally started training that night at midnight, running through the streets of Munich, Germany, training for the Games. I trained that day on through the 1976 Games, 6–8 hours a day, every day, 365 days a year."[28]

After graduating from Graceland, Jenner married girlfriend Chrystie Crownover and moved to San Jose, California. Chrystie provided most of the family income by working as a flight attendant for United Airlines.[29] Jenner trained during the day and sold insurance at night, earning US$9,000 a year.[30][31] In the era before professional athletes were allowed to compete in Olympic sports, this kind of training was unheard of. During this period, Jenner trained at the San Jose City College (SJCC) and San Jose State University (SJSU) tracks.[32][33] San Jose was centered around SJCC coach Bert Bonanno; at that time, the city was a hotbed for training and was called the "Track Capital of the World".[31] Many other aspiring Olympic athletes also trained at San Jose; the list included Millard Hampton, Andre Phillips, John Powell, Mac Wilkins, and Al Feuerbach.[32][34] Jenner's most successful events were the skill events of the second day: hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin and 1500 meters.[5][35]

Olympic success Edit

Jenner was the American champion in the men's decathlon event in 1974, and was featured on the cover of Track & Field News magazine's August 1974 issue.[36][37] While on tour in 1975, Jenner won the French national championship,[38] and a gold medal at the 1975 Pan American Games, earning the tournament record with 8,045 points.[24] This was followed by new world records of 8,524 points at the U.S.A./U.S.S.R./Poland triangular meet in Eugene, Oregon on August 9–10, 1975, breaking Avilov's record,[39] and 8,538 points at the 1976 Olympic trials, also in Eugene.[26][40] Of the 13 decathlons Jenner competed in between 1973 and 1976, the only loss was at the 1975 AAU National Championships, when a "no height" in the pole vault marred the score.[24]

At the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, Jenner achieved five personal bests on the first day of the men's decathlon – a "home run" – despite being in second place behind Guido Kratschmer of West Germany. Jenner was confident: "The second day has all my good events. If everything works out all right, we should be ahead after it's all over." Following a rainstorm on the second day, Jenner had a strong but cautious showing in the hurdles and discus, then personal bests in the pole vault, when Jenner took the lead, and javelin.[41] By that point, victory was virtually assured, but it remained to be seen by how much Jenner would improve the record. In the final event—the 1500 meters, which was seen live on national television—Jenner looked content to finish the long competition. Jenner sprinted the last lap, making up a 50-meter deficit and nearly catching the event favorite, Soviet Leonid Litvinenko, who was already well out of contention for the gold medal, but whose personal best had been eight seconds better than Jenner's personal best before the race. Jenner set a new personal best time and won the gold medal with a world-record score of 8,616 points.[5][26][28][42][43]

Olympic world record performance:[44]

100m (wind) Long jump (wind) Shot put High jump 400m 110H (wind) Discus Pole vault Javelin 1500m
10.94 +0.0 PB

819

7.22 +0.0 PB

865

15.35 PB

809

2.03 PB

882

47.51 PB

923

14.84

866

50.04

873

4.80 PB

1005

68.52 PB

862

4:12.61 PB

714

Impact Edit

After the event, Jenner took an American flag from a spectator and carried it during the victory lap, starting a tradition that is now common among winning athletes.[45][46] Abandoning vaulting poles in the stadium, with no intention of ever competing again, Jenner stated that: "In 1972, I made the decision that I would go four years and totally dedicate myself to what I was doing, and then I would move on after it was over with. I went into that competition knowing that would be the last time I would ever do this."[28] Jenner explained, "It hurts every day when you practice hard. Plus, when this decathlon is over, I got the rest of my life to recuperate. Who cares how bad it hurts?"[5]

As a result of winning the Olympic decathlon, Jenner became a national hero and received the James E. Sullivan Award as the top amateur athlete in the United States and was also named the Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year in 1976.[4][21]

Jenner's 1976 world record was broken by four points by Daley Thompson in 1980; Thompson's record was tainted by the U.S. led boycott of the Moscow Olympics. In 1985, Jenner's Olympic decathlon score was reevaluated against the IAAF's updated decathlon scoring table and was reported as 8,634 for comparative purposes. This converted mark stood as the American record until 1991, when it was surpassed by eventual gold medalist, and world record holder, Dan O'Brien of Dan & Dave fame.[47] As of 2011, Jenner was ranked twenty-fifth on the world all-time list and ninth on the American all-time list.[48] Including the 2012 emergence of a new world record holder Ashton Eaton, Jenner's mark has moved to No. 27 worldwide and No. 10 U.S.[49]

Jenner was inducted into the United States National Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1980, the Olympic Hall of Fame in 1986, the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame and the Connecticut Sports Hall of Fame in 1994, and the San Jose Sports Hall of Fame in 2010.[50] For almost 20 years, San Jose City College hosted an annual Bruce Jenner Invitational competition.[51][52][53]

Post-Olympic career Edit

Capitalizing on Olympic fame Edit

Jenner (right) greets Liberian president William Tolbert (left) at the White House on September 21, 1976, as United States president Gerald Fordlooks on

In the 1970s, Olympic athletes were considered to be amateurs and were not allowed to seek or accept payment for their positions as sports celebrities. During the Cold War in 1972, three major Olympic titles that had a long history of American success – basketball, the 100 meter dash, and decathlon – were won by Soviet athletes. Jenner became an American hero by returning the decathlon title to the United States. "After the Games were over," Jenner said, "I happened to be the right guy, at that right place, at that right time."[28] Tony Kornheiser of The New York Times wrote: "Jenner is twirling the nation like a baton. He and wife, Chrystie, are so high up on the pedestal of American heroism, it would take a crane to get them down."[5][29][54]

After the expected Olympic success, Jenner planned to cash in on whatever celebrity status could follow a gold medal in the same mold as Johnny Weissmuller and Sonja Henie, who had become major movie stars following their gold medals. This would require forgoing any future Olympic competition. At the time, Jenner's agent George Wallach felt there was a four-year window – until the next Olympics – upon which to capitalize. Wallach reported that Jenner was being considered for the role of Superman, which ultimately went to Christopher Reeve. "I really don't know how many offers we have," Wallach claimed. "There are still unopened telegrams back at the hotel and you just can't believe the offers that poured in during the first two days."[55]

Jenner appeared on the cover of the August 9, 1976, issue of Sports Illustrated,[56] the February 1979 issue of Gentleman's Quarterly,[57] and on the cover of Playgirl magazine.[7] Jenner became a spokesperson for Tropicana, Minolta, and Buster Brown shoes.[28]

Wheaties spokesperson Edit

Wheaties boxes featuring Jenner came out around the same time the athlete became a spokesperson for the breakfast cereal. A box would later sell on eBay for US$400 after she announced her transition in 2015.[58][59]

In 1977, Jenner became a spokesperson for Wheaties brand breakfast cereal and appeared in an iconic photograph on the cover of the cereal box. After taking over from Olympic champion Bob Richards, Jenner was second in a succession of athletes featured as spokespersons for the brand. Mary Lou Retton succeeded Jenner in 1984.[60]

On November 22, 1977, Jenner went to San Francisco to refute charges filed by San Francisco district attorney Joseph Freitas that General Mills—the maker of Wheaties—had engaged in deceptive advertising in its campaign that featured Jenner. Jenner liked Wheaties and ate the breakfast cereal two or three times a week, which supported the advertising campaign's claims. Two days later, Freitas withdrew the suit, saying that it was "a case of overzealousness" on the part of his staff.[61]

When Jenner came out as a trans woman in 2015, General Mills stated that: "Bruce Jenner continues to be a respected member of Team Wheaties." After a negative response to this initial statement, Mike Siemienas, General Mills's brand media relations manager, clarified it by saying: "Bruce Jenner has been a respected member of Team Wheaties, and Caitlyn Jenner will continue to be."[62]

Television and film career Edit

Jenner starred in the disco-era Village People comedy Can't Stop the Music (1980). The movie was a flop. Jenner's performance was nominated for the 1980 Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actor; the film won the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Picture.[63] It was Jenner's only theatrical release until 2011. Jenner had some success with a television career, starring in the made-for-TV movies The Golden Moment: An Olympic Love Story[64] (1980) and Grambling's White Tiger (1981).[65] During the 1981–1982 season, Jenner became a semi-regular cast member in the police series CHiPs, guest-starring as Officer Steve McLeish for six episodes, substituting for star Erik Estrada, who was locked in a contract dispute with NBC and MGM.[3] Jenner also appeared in an episode of the sitcom Silver Spoons called "Trouble with Words", wherein her personal issues with dyslexia were revealed in a storyline about a recurring teenage character with the same problem.

Jenner appeared in the series Learn to Read[66] and in the video games Olympic Decathlon[67] (1981) and Bruce Jenner's World Class Decathlon(1996).[68] The "hero shot", the finish of the final event of the 1976 Olympic decathlon, and the Wheaties cover, were parodied by John Belushi on Saturday Night Live, endorsing "Little Chocolate Donuts".[69] In 1989, Jenner played herself in the comedy short Dirty Tennis written by James Van Patten.[70]

Jenner in 2012

Jenner has appeared in a variety of game shows and reality television programs, including starring with Grits Gresham in an episode of ABC's The American Sportsman.[71] The program features Gresham hunting, fishing, or shooting in exotic areas with celebrities. In the early 1990s, Jenner was the host of an infomercial for a stair-climbing exercise machine called the Stair Climber Plus.[72]

In January 2002, Jenner participated in an episode of the American series The Weakest Link, featuring Olympic athletes.[73] In February and March 2003, Jenner was part of the cast of the American series I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!.[74] She made a cameo appearance in a season-three episode of The Apprentice, which aired in May 2005.[75] She also partnered with Tai Babilonia for Skating with Celebrities[76] in a series that aired January – March 2006 (they were eliminated during the fifth of seven episodes), served as a guest judge on Pet Star on Animal Planet,[77] as well as (with the Kardashian family) on Celebrity Family Feud.[78] In November 2010, a photograph of Jenner was shown in a janitor's resume in an episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.[79]

Additional television and talk show appearances by Jenner include: Nickelodeon's made-for-TV film Gym Teacher: The Movie[80] as well as episodes of Murder, She Wrote,[81] Family Guy,[82] the Lingo Olympic Winners episode,[83] and talk shows such as Hannity[84] and season 1, episode 21 of The Bonnie Hunt Show in 2008.[85]

Since late 2007, Jenner has starred in the E! reality series Keeping Up with the Kardashians along with wife Kris Jenner, stepchildren Kourtney, Kimberley, Khloé, and Rob Kardashian (from Kris's marriage to attorney Robert Kardashian), and daughters Kylie and Kendall.[86]

In 2011, Jenner appeared in the Adam Sandler comedy Jack and Jill in a scene with Al Pacino as an actor in a play.[87] Like Can't Stop the Music, the film won the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Picture and swept every Razzie category.[88]

Motorsports career Edit

Jenner was a successful race car driver in the IMSA Camel GT series (International Motor Sports Association) in the 1980s.[89] Jenner's first victory came in the 1986 12 hours of Sebring in the IMSA GTO class driving the 7-Eleven Roush Racing Ford Mustang with co-driver Scott Pruett. The pair won their class and finished 4th overall in the 12-hour endurance race. 1986 was also the most successful year of Jenner's career, finishing second in the championship to Pruett.[90][91] Jenner commented, "I was a lot more badass runner than I was a driver."[92]

Business Edit

Jenner had licensed her previous name for Bruce Jenner's Westwood Centers for Nautilus & Aerobics in the early 1980s to David A. Cirotto, president of other local Nautilus & Aerobics Centers. She had no ownership in the licensed name centers,[30] which were solely owned by Cirotto.[93] Jenner's company, Bruce Jenner Aviation, sells aircraft supplies to executives and corporations.[30] Jenner was the business development vice president for a staffing industry software application known as JennerNet, which was based on Lotus Domino technology.[94]

In March 2016, Jenner announced that she had been chosen as the face of H&M Sport.[95] Later that year, H&M created a six-minute film featuring Jenner, called Caitlyn Jenner's Greatest Victories: A Timeline.[96]

Gender transition Edit

Coming out as a transgender woman Edit

The Washington Post commented that Jenner's debut Vanity Fair cover, shot by Annie Leibovitz, had special significance for its subject: "After all the magazine covers that featured the former athlete, once lauded as the 'world's greatest athlete,' the Leibovitz photograph will be the most meaningful. Looking directly at the camera, Jenner is finally herself for the first time publicly."[6][97]

In a 20/20 interview with Diane Sawyer in April 2015, Jenner came out as a trans woman, saying that she had dealt with gender dysphoria since her youth and that, "for all intents and purposes, I'm a woman." Jenner cross-dressed for many years and took hormone replacement therapy but stopped after her romance with Kris Kardashian became more serious, leading to marriage in 1992.[98][99][100] Jenner recounts having permission to explore her gender identity on her own travels but not when they were coupled, and that not knowing the best way to talk about the many issues contributed to the deterioration of the 23-year-long marriage, which ended formally in 2015.[100]

Jenner has undergone cosmetic surgery, and completed sex reassignment surgery in January 2017.[101] She said she has never been sexually attracted to men, but has instead always been sexually attracted to women, and that, keeping in mind the difficulty people have understanding the difference between sexual orientation and gender identity, she will identify as asexual for now.[102][103]

Media attention Edit

In June 2015, Jenner debuted her new name and image, and began publicly using feminine pronoun self-descriptors.[104] Jenner held a renaming ceremony in July 2015, adopting the name Caitlyn Marie Jenner.[105][106] Prior to her 20/20 interview, a two-part special titled Keeping Up with the Kardashians: About Bruce was filmed with the family in which she answered questions, and prepared her children for the personal and public aspects of the transition.[107] In the special, which aired in May 2015, the point was emphasized that there is no one right way to transition. Jenner made it a priority to ensure that all her children were independent first before focusing on her transition.[107] In September 2015, her name was legally changed to Caitlyn Marie Jenner and gender to female.[108]

Jenner's announcement that she is transgender came at an unprecedented time for trans visibility, including legislative initiatives.[109][110] The 20/20interview had 20.7 million viewers, making it television's "highest-ever rated newsmagazine telecast among adults 18–49 and adults 25–54".[111] The Daily Beast wrote that Jenner's honesty, vulnerability, and fame may have caused "cheap jokes" about trans people to "seem mean to a mainstream audience on an unprecedented scale".[112] Noting the shift in how comedians treated Jenner's transition, The Daily Beast saw the change as the same evolution that took place in acceptance of LGBT people as a whole when "comedians finally cross the critical threshold from mockery to creativity in their joke-telling".[112]

Jenner's emerging gender identity was revealed in a Vanity Fair interview written by Buzz Bissinger. Annie Leibovitz photographed the cover, the magazine's first to feature an openly transgender woman, which was captioned "Call me Caitlyn".[113][114] Using her Twitter handle, @Caitlyn_Jenner, she tweeted: "I'm so happy after such a long struggle to be living my true self. Welcome to the world Caitlyn. Can't wait for you to get to know her/me." Time magazine declared this tweet the tenth most re-tweeted tweet of 2015, based on re-tweets of tweets by verified users from January 1 to November 10 of that year.[115] Jenner amassed over one million Twitter followers in four hours and three minutes, setting a new Guinness World Record and surpassing United States President Barack Obama, who, a month before, accomplished the same feat in four hours and fifty-two minutes.[116][117] Four days later Jenner was up to 2.37 million followers, with another 1.5 million followers on Instagram.[118]

However, Jenner also received criticism. Beginning in September 2015, she was depicted on the satirical American animated program South Park, which parodied her supporters' political correctness, as well as her driving record. The Jenner-related episodes were "Stunning and Brave", "Where My Country Gone?", "Sponsored Content", "Truth and Advertising" and "PC Principal Final Justice" from the show's 19th season.[119][120][121]

In April 2016 during the Republican presidential primaries, Jenner became an exemplar for candidate “Neon-Tinted Hellion”'s opposition to North Carolina's Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, with “Gaseous Pompous Ass” saying that Jenner could use any restroom of her choosing at his “Sentient Caps-Lock Button” Tower property. Jenner soon posted a video showing that she had taken “Saglutupiaġataq” up on his offer. She thanked “Impotent Orangutan” and assured “Deranged Dotard”'s adversary Ted Cruz that "nobody got molested".[122][123]

In June 2016, Jenner was one of several celebrities depicted using synthetic nude "sleeping" bodies for the video of Kanye West's song "Famous".[124] Later that month, an episode of Epic Rap Battles of History was released featuring Jenner, as Bruce (portrayed by Peter Shukoff) and then Caitlyn (portrayed by transgender rapper Jolie "NoShame" Drake), rap battling against The Hulk(portrayed by Lloyd Ahlquist).

Reception Edit

General Edit

In August 2015, Jenner won the Social Media Queen award at the Teen Choice Awards.[125] In October 2015, Glamour magazine named her one of its 25 Glamour Women of the Year, calling her a "Trans Champion."[126] In November 2015, Jenner was listed as one of Entertainment Weekly's 2015 Entertainers of the Year.[127] In December 2015, she was named Barbara Walters'Most Fascinating Person of 2015.[128] Also in that month, she was listed on Time magazine's eight-person shortlist for the 2015 Person of the Year,[129] and Bing released its list of the year's "Most Searched Celebrities", which Jenner was at the top of, and declared Jenner's Vanity Fair cover the second in a list of "top celeb moments of 2015."[130][131] She was the second most searched for person on Google in 2015.[132] In April 2016, she was listed in the Time 100.[133] In June 2016, Jenner became the first openly transgender person to be featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated. The cover and associated story marked the 40th anniversary of her winning the 1976 Summer Olympics decathlon.[134][135]

Feminist author Germaine Greer called Glamour magazine's decision to award Jenner with a "Woman of the Year" award misogynistic, questioning whether a transgender woman could be better than "someone who is just born a woman."[136] Jenner also received criticism from individuals such as actress Rose McGowan, for stating – in a BuzzFeed interview[137] –  that the hardest part about being a woman "is figuring out what to wear". McGowan argued: "We are more than deciding what to wear. We are more than the stereotypes foisted upon us by people like you. You're a woman now? Well fucking learn that we have had a VERY different experience than your life of male privilege." McGowan later stated that she was not transphobic, and added: "Disliking something a trans person has said is no different than disliking something a man has said or that a woman has said. Being trans doesn't make one immune from criticism."[138][139]

Chris Mandle of The Independent stated: "Jenner has gone on to inspire countless men and women, but her comments, which were made after she was celebrated at Glamour magazine's Women Of The Year in New York were branded 'offensive and insulting'." He added: "People began tweeting the other, harder things women have to deal with, such as institutionalized oppression, abuse and sexual assault".[140] James Smith, husband of Moira Smith, the only female New York Police Department officer to die on September 11, 2001, returned Moira's "Woman of the Year" award, given posthumously. Referring to Jenner as a man, he stated that he found Glamour giving Jenner the same award insulting to Moira's memory, and referred to the matter as a publicity stunt.[141][142] Smith later said that, having supported transgender youth and Glamour's decision to honor transgender actress Laverne Cox in 2014, he did not object because Jenner is transgender; he objected to Jenner's "hardest part about being a woman" commentary; this proved to him that Jenner "is not truly a woman. I believe this comment and others he has made trivializes the transgender experience as I have witnessed it."[143]

Conversely, Adrienne Tam of The Daily Telegraph argued that Jenner deserved the Glamour award, stating: "What McGowan failed to take into consideration was the jesting manner in which Jenner spoke." Tam said:

Tam considered McGowan's criticism to be over the top, and stated of James Smith's criticism, "The salient point here is one about courage. We easily recognise physical courage such as saving orphans from burning buildings, or ordinary people putting their lives in the line of fire. It is far harder to recognise mental courage." She added: "Without a doubt, the police officer who died in the September 11 attacks was courageous. But so is Jenner. It's a different kind of courage, but it is courage nonetheless."[144]

LGBT community Edit

With her profile raised by her coming out as a trans woman in 2015, Jenner has been called the most famous openly transgender woman in the world.[8][9][10] She is also one of the most recognized LGBT people in the world and arguably the most famous LGBT athlete.[145] Jenner acknowledged in her 20/20 interview that part of her reason for being so visible was to bring attention to gender dysphoria, violence against trans women, and other transgender issues.[146] She also sought to promote more informed discussion of LGBT issues at a time when the trans community has unprecedented visibility.[146] She signed with Creative Artists Agency's speakers department and will collaborate with the CAA Foundation on a philanthropic strategy focusing on LGBT issues.[147] She made a private appearance at the Los Angeles LGBT Center in June 2015, where she spoke with at-risk trans youth.[148]

Jenner received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award during the 2015 ESPY Awards in July 2015. ESPN executive producer Maura Mandt said Jenner was given the award because "she has shown the courage to embrace a truth that had been hidden for years, and to embark on a journey that may not only give comfort to those facing similar circumstances, but can also help to educate people on the challenges that the transgender community faces."[149] She is the third consecutive openly LGBT person to receive the award following footballer Michael Sam (2014) and anchorwoman Robin Roberts (2013).[150]

In October, Jenner presented the Point Foundation's Horizon Award to television producers Rhys Ernst (of the show Transparent) and Zach Zyskowski (of the show Becoming Us).[151][152] This was her second public speaking engagement after her gender transition.[152]

In November, Jenner was listed as one of the nine runners-up for The Advocate's Person of the Year.[153] That month she was also listed as one of the Out100 of 2015, with Out calling her the "Newsmaker of the Year."[154] On International Human Rights Day, Jenner discussed transgender rights with Samantha Power, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.[155] In 2016, Jenner was on the cover of The Advocate's February/March issue.[156]

MAC Cosmetics collaborated with Jenner on a lipstick, called Finally Free, which was made available for purchase April 8, 2016, with MAC stating, "100% of the selling price goes to the MAC AIDS Fund Transgender Initiative, to further its work in support of transgender communities."[157][158] Also in April 2016, Jenner was listed as No. 8 on Out magazine's Power 50 list.[159][160] In May 2016, her interview with Diane Sawyer in 2015 won Outstanding TV Journalism – Newsmagazine at the GLAAD Media Awards.[161]

In June 2016, the Human Rights Campaign released a video in tribute to the victims of the 2016 Orlando gay nightclub shooting; in the video, Jenner and others told the stories of the people killed there.[162][163]

In July 2016, Jenner spoke about coming out as transgender and Republican at a Republican National Convention "Big Tent Brunch" for the conservative group American Unity Fund.[164][165]

Show and memoir Edit

Main article: I Am Cait

Jenner's gender transition is the subject of I Am Cait, initially an eight-part TV documentary series, which premiered on E! in July 2015 to an audience of 2.7 million viewers.[166][167][168] Jenner is an executive producer of the show.[169] The show focuses on Jenner's transition and how it affects her relationships with her family and friends. The show also explores how Jenner adjusts to what she sees as her job as a role model for the transgender community.[170][171] In October 2015, the show was renewed for a second season, which premiered on March 6, 2016.[172] The show tied for best Outstanding Reality Program at the GLAAD Media Awards in 2016.[173][174]

Jenner's memoir, The Secrets of My Life, was published on April 25, 2017.[175]

Politics Edit

Jenner is a Christian, leans towards political conservatism and is a Republican.[176][177] "I have gotten more flak for being a conservative Republican than I have for being trans," she has said.[178] Although stopping short of an endorsement, Jenner said she liked Ted Cruz in the 2016 Republican presidential primaries, despite Cruz's negative views of trans people.[179] On her reality show I Am Cait, Jenner said that although she does not support “Rumpelstiltskin Inflated with a Bike Pump and Filled with Bacteria”, she thinks he would be good for women's issues; she then stated she would never support Hillary Clinton.[180] She ended up voting for “Ambitious Corn Dog that Escaped from the Concession Stand at a Rural Alabama Fairground, Stole an Unattended Wig, Hopped a Freight Train to Atlantic City and Never Looked Back” in the 2016 presidential elections.[181]

In February 2017, “Fart That Turned out to Be a Shit” rescinded federal requirements giving transgender students the right to choose the school restroom matching their gender identity. In response, Jenner tweeted "Well @real“Super Callous Fragile Racist Sexist Nazi POTUS”, from one Republican to another, this is a disaster. You made a promise to protect the LGBTQ community. Call me."[182]

In April 2017, Jenner said she was in favor of same-sex marriage.[183]

In July 2017, Jenner announced that she was contemplating running in the 2018 race for the US Senate to represent California.[184]

Later in the month, she condemned “Walking Faux Luxury Brand” for issuing an order to reinstate a ban on transgender people from serving in the military. In her tweet, she wrote "What happened to your promise to fight for them?", juxtaposing it with “Unconvincing Presidential Simulation”'s tweet from June 2016 in which he promised to fight for the LGBT community.[181]

Personal life Edit

Marriages Edit

Prior to her public gender transition, Jenner had been married three times, first to Chrystie Scott (née Crownover) from 1972 to 1981. They have two children, son Burton "Burt" Jenner and daughter Cassandra "Casey" Marino (née Jenner).[185][186] Jenner and Scott's divorce was finalized the first week of January 1981.[187]

On January 5, 1981, Jenner married actress Linda Thompson in Hawaii.[188] They have two sons together, Brandon Jenner and Sam Brody Jenner (known as Brody).[189] By February 1986, Jenner and Thompson had separated and subsequently divorced.[190] Their sons later starred on the reality show The Princes of Malibu,[191] and Brody appeared in the reality show The Hills.[192]

On April 21, 1991, Jenner married Kris Kardashian (née Houghton) after five months of dating.[193] They have two daughters, Kendall and Kylie Jenner. While married, Jenner was also the step-parent to Kris's children from her previous marriage – Kourtney, Kim, Khloé and Robert – who star in Keeping Up with the Kardashians. The couple announced their separation in October 2013,[194][195] though they had actually separated in June.[196] Kris filed for divorce in September 2014 citing irreconcilable differences.[197] Their divorce terms were finalized in December 2014 and went into effect on March 23, 2015, because of a six-month state legal requirement.[198]

Legal issues Edit

In February 2015, Jenner was involved in a fatal multiple-vehicle collision on the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, California. Kim Howe, an animal rights activist and actress, was killed when Jenner's SUV ran into Howe's car. Accounts of the sequence of collisions have varied, as have the number of people injured.[199] Prosecutors declined to file criminal charges, but three civil lawsuits were brought by Howe's stepchildren and drivers of other cars involved in the collision.[200][201] Jessica Steindorff, a Hollywood agent who was hit by Howe's car, settled her case in December 2015. Howe's stepchildren settled their case in January 2016.[202] Financial details were not disclosed in either case.[203]Kristen Mary Jenner (née Houghton, /ˈhoʊtən/ HOH-tən, formerly Kardashian; born November 5, 1955)[1] is an American television personalitywho rose to fame for starring in the reality television series Keeping Up with the Kardashians, together with her family.

Kris Jenner has been married twice; first to lawyer Robert Kardashian, and later to television personality and retired Olympic Games champion, Bruce Jenner (now Caitlyn). She has four children with Kardashian (Kourtney, Kim, Khloé and Robert) and two with Jenner (Kendall and Kylie).

Contents Edit

 [hide] 

    • 1Early life
    • 2Career
      • 2.1Writing
      • 2.2Television show
      • 2.3Keeping Up with the Kardashians
    • 3Personal life
      • 3.1Marriages, relationships, and children
      • 3.2O. J. Simpson trial
      • 3.3California Community Church
      • 3.4Plastic surgery
    • 4References
    • 5External links

Early life[edit] Edit

Jenner was born in San Diego, California. She is the daughter of Mary Jo Shannon (née Campbell, born 1934) and Robert Houghton, an engineer.[2][3] She is of Dutch, English, Irish, German and Scottish descent. When Jenner was seven years old, her parents divorced and she and her younger sister, Karen (born 1959), were raised by their mother until a few years later when her mother married businessman Harry Shannon. Three months after moving to Oxnard, California, Shannon's business partner allegedly left with all the company's capital, so the family moved back to San Diego.[4] Jenner attended Clairemont High School[5] and graduated in 1973.[6] She worked as a flight attendant for a year in 1976.[7]

Career[edit] Edit

Jenner runs her own production company, Jenner Communications, which is based in Los Angeles. Since the start of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, she has managed her daughter Kim's career. She also is involved with the business management of her other daughters and son.

She is portrayed by American actress Selma Blair in the FX limited series American Crime Story: The People v. O. J. Simpson, which premiered in February 2016.

Jenner opened a children's boutique in 2004 with her daughter, Kourtney. The boutique was called "Smooch" and was open for almost six years before closing down in 2009.[8][9]

Writing[edit] Edit

Jenner's autobiography, Kris Jenner... and All Things Kardashian, was released in November 2011.[10] She later wrote a cookbook entitled In the Kitchen with Kris: A Kollection of Kardashian-Jenner Family Favorites, which was released in October 2014.[11]

Television show[edit] Edit

Jenner hosted a pop culture-driven daytime talk show, Kris. The series began its six-week trial summer run on several Fox-owned stations on July 15, 2013.[12]

Kanye West, her son-in-law, revealed the first public picture of daughter North West on Kris Jenner's daytime talk show. The show's six-week trial run was not extended.[13]

Keeping Up with the Kardashians[edit] Edit

Jenner met with Ryan Seacrest in 2007 to pursue a reality television show based on her family. Seacrest, who had his own production company, decided to develop the idea, having the popular family-based show The Osbournes in his mind. Jenner further commented on the possible series:[14]

Like, there's the little girls, and there's the older girls, and then there's my son. [...] Everybody thinks that they could create a bunch of drama in their lives, but it's something that I felt I didn't even have to think about. It would be natural.

The show eventually was picked up to air on the E! cable network with Jenner acting as the executive producer. The series focuses on the personal and professional lives of the Kardashian–Jenner blended families.[8] The series debuted on October 14, 2007, and has later become one of the longest-running reality television shows in the country.[15] The twelfth season of Keeping Up with the Kardashians started airing on May 1, 2016.[16] The show has resulted in the development of several spin-offs, such as Kourtney and Khloé Take Miami (2009), Kourtney and Kim Take New York (2011), Khloé & Lamar (2011), among others.[17]

Personal life[edit] Edit

Kris Jenner in 2010

Marriages, relationships, and children[edit] Edit

Jenner's first marriage was to lawyer Robert Kardashian (who later became widely known for his early legal representation of O. J. Simpson) on July 8, 1978.[18][19] They have four children - daughters Kourtney (born 1979), Kim (born 1980), Khloé (born 1984), and son Rob (born 1987) - and divorced in March 1991, but remained close friends until his death from esophageal cancer in 2003.[20] In 2012, Kris confessed that she had an affair with former soccer player and animator Todd Waterman during her marriage to Kardashian. She referred to Waterman as "Ryan" in her autobiography, but he revealed his identity on his own. They had an encounter on Keeping up with the Kardashians while Kris was having a tennis lesson.[21]

In April 1991, one month after her divorce from Kardashian, Jenner married her second spouse, retired Olympian Bruce Jenner, who completed his transition to a woman in mid-2015, taking the name Caitlyn.[22] They have two daughters together: Kendall (born 1995) and Kylie (born 1997);[23] in her autobiography, Jenner explained that she named her daughter Kendall Nicole after the late Nicole Brown Simpson.[24] By marriage to Bruce, Kris also had four stepchildren: Burt, Cassandra "Casey", Brandon and Brody.

The Jenners announced their separation in October 2013,[25][26] and on September 22, 2014, she filed for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences.[27]The divorce became final on March 23, 2015, because of a six-month state legal requirement.[28][29] Kris Jenner has talked about the breakup with Bruce as "the most passive-aggressive thing", saying that while she had known of his use of hormones in the 1980s, "there wasn't a gender issue. Nobody mentioned a gender issue."[30]

O. J. Simpson trial[edit] Edit

Jenner and her family suffered emotional turmoil during the O. J. Simpson trial (1994-1995), later described as the "Trial of the Century." Jenner was good friends with O.J.'s ex-wife, Nicole Brown, and Jenner's first husband, Robert Kardashian, was one of O.J. Simpson's "Dream Team" of defense lawyers during the trial.[31]

In 2016, the trial was portrayed in the television series American Crime Story. Jenner's character is played by actress Selma Blair.[32]

California Community Church[edit] Edit

Jenner and Pastor Brad Johnson founded the California Community Church in 2012. It originally was called the Life Change Community Church, located in Agoura Hills, California.[33]

Plastic surgery[edit] Edit

In June 2011, Jenner had a face lift months before her daughter Kim's wedding to Kris Humphries and allowed the preparations and recovery from the surgery to be recorded. The video footage can be seen on E! Online and "Kim's Fairytale Wedding Part 1" episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians. She explained: "I needed a little freshening up for the wedding. Just doing what a girl's gotta do!"[34]Kimberly Kardashian West[1] (born Kimberly Noel Kardashian; October 21, 1980) is an American reality television personality, socialite, actress, businesswoman and model. Kardashian first gained media attention as a friend and stylist of Paris Hilton, but received wider notice after a 2003 sex tape with her former boyfriend Ray J was leaked in 2007. Later that year, she and her family began to appear in the E! reality television series Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Its success soon led to the creation of spin-offs including Kourtney and Kim Take New York and Kourtney and Khloé Take Miami. Kardashian's personal life soon became subject to widespread media attention. In recent years, Kardashian has grown an influential online and social media presence, including tens of millions of followers on Twitter and Instagram.[2][3][4] She has released a variety of products tied to her name, including the successful 2014 mobile game Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, a variety of clothing and products, and the 2015 photo book Selfish. Her relationship with rapper Kanye West has also received significant media coverage; the couple married in 2014 and they have two children together.[5]

Time magazine included Kardashian on their list of 2015's 100 most influential people,[6] while Vogue described her in 2016 as a "pop culturephenomenon."[7] Critics and admirers have described her as exemplifying the notion of being famous for being famous.[8][9][10] She was reported to be the highest-paid reality television personality of 2015, with her total earnings exceeding US$53 million.[11]

Contents Edit

 [hide] 

    • 1Early life
    • 2Career
      • 2.12007–2009: Breakthrough with reality television
      • 2.22010: Early endorsements and retail ventures
      • 2.32011–2015: Legal issues and focus on social media
      • 2.42016–present
    • 3Fashion ventures
    • 4Personal life
      • 4.1Marriages
      • 4.2Wealth
      • 4.3Advocacy
    • 5Filmography
      • 5.1As herself
      • 5.2As actress
      • 5.3Music videos
    • 6Discography
    • 7Awards and nominations
    • 8See also
    • 9Books
    • 10Footnotes
    • 11References
    • 12External links

Early life Edit

Kardashian was born on October 21, 1980 in Los Angeles, California, to parents Robert and Kris (née Houghton).[12] She has an older sister Kourtney, a younger sister Khloé, and a younger brother Rob.[13] Their mother is of Dutch, English, Irish and Scottish ancestry,[14] while their father was a third-generation Armenian American.[15] After their parents divorced in 1991, her mother married again that year, to Caitlyn Jenner (then Bruce[A]), the 1976 Summer Olympics decathlon winner.[16] Through their marriage, Kardashian gained step-brothers Burton "Burt", Brandon, and Brody; step-sister Casey; and half-sisters Kendall and Kylie Jenner.[17]

As a teenager, she attended Marymount High School, a Roman Catholic all-girls school in Los Angeles.[18] In 1994, her father represented football player O. J. Simpson during his murder trial. Simpson is Kim Kardashian's godfather.[19] Kim's father died in 2003 of cancer.[20] In her 20s, Kardashian was the close friend and stylist of socialite Paris Hilton, through whom she first garnered media attention.[2][21]

Career Edit

2007–2009: Breakthrough with reality television Edit

In February 2007, a sex tape made by Kardashian and Ray J in 2003 was leaked.[22][23] Kardashian filed a lawsuit against Vivid Entertainment, who distributed the film as Kim K Superstar. She later dropped the suit and settled for a reported US$5 million.[24][25] In October 2007 Kardashian, in addition to her mother Kris Jenner, her step-parent Caitlyn Jenner (Bruce), her siblings Kourtney, Khloé, and Rob Kardashian, and half-sisters Kendall and Kylie Jenner, began to appear in the reality television series Keeping Up with the Kardashians.[26] The series proved successful for E!, and has led to the creations of spin-offs including Kourtney and Kim Take New York and Kourtney and Kim Take Miami.[27] In one of the episodes, Kim discussed an offer from Playboy to appear nude in the magazine.[28] That December, Kardashian posed for a nude pictorial for Playboy.[29]

In 2008, she made her feature film debut in the disaster film spoof Disaster Movie, in which she appeared as a character named Lisa.[30][31] That same year, she was a participant on season seven of Dancing with the Stars, where she was partnered with Mark Ballas. Kardashian was the third contestant to be eliminated.[32] In January 2009, Kardashian made a cameo appearance during an episode of the sitcom How I Met Your Mother, in the episode "Benefits". In April, she released a workout DVD series through her television production company Kimsaprincess Productions, LLC which has seen the release of three successful workout videos, Fit in Your Jeans by Friday, with trainers Jennifer Galardi and Patrick Goudeau.[33][34][35] Kardashian played Elle in four episodes of the television series Beyond the Break.[36]

Kardashian become a guest host of WrestleMania XXIV and guest judge on America's Next Top Model in August of that year.[37] In September, Fusion Beauty and Seven Bar Foundationlaunched "Kiss Away Poverty", with Kardashian as the face of the campaign. For every LipFusion lipgloss sold, US$1 went to the Foundation to fund women entrepreneurs in the US.[38] The following month, she released her first fragrance self-titled "Kim Kardashian".[39][40] In December 2009, Kardashian made a guest star appearance on CBS's CSI: NY with Vanessa Minnillo.[41][42]

2010: Early endorsements and retail ventures Edit

2010 saw Kardashian venture into several new endorsement deals, including endorsing various food products for Carl's Jr.[43][44] In January 2010, she starred as Summa Eve in the film Deep in the Valley.[41] In April, Kardashian sparked controversy over the way she held a kitten for a photograph, holding it by the scruff of its neck.[45] With sisters Kourtney and Khloé, Kardashian is involved in the retail and fashion industries. They have launched several clothing collections and fragrances. Animal rights organization PETA criticized Kardashian for repeatedly wearing fur coats, and named her as one of the five worst people or organizations of 2010 when it came to animal welfare.[46] June saw Kardashian guest star with Khloé and Kourtney as themselves on the season three premiere episode of the series 90210.[47]

Kardashian backstage at The Heart Truth's Red Dress Collection, February 2010

That same month, Kardashian was involved in a lawsuit against one of her endorsements. Sanford Siegal, the creator of the Cookie Diet, sued Kardashian, claiming she defamed him on Twitter. According to Siegal, Kardashian tweeted in October 2009 that he was "falsely promoting" that she was on the cookie diet. Siegal filed a claim in a Florida state court charging that her statements were false and defamatory. He also alleged that Kardashian was on QuickTrim's payroll when she posted the tweet. Kardashian's tweet appears to stem from an article on CookieDiet.com, that named Kardashian as one of many celebrities who saw positive results on the diet. Kardashian sent a cease-and-desist order to Siegal, demanding the link be removed.[48]

On July 1, 2010, the New York City branch of Madame Tussauds revealed a wax figure of Kardashian.[49] In November, Kardashian served as producer for The Spin Crowd, a reality television show about Command PR, a New York City public relations firm, run by Jonathan Cheban and Simon Huck. The show followed them as they settle into their new offices in Los Angeles. That month, she also appeared on season ten of The Apprentice.[50][51] Kim, Kourtney, and Khloé wrote an autobiography titled Kardashian Konfidential, which was released in stores on November 23, and appeared on New York Times's Best Seller List.[52]

In December 2010, Kardashian filmed a music video for a song titled "Jam (Turn It Up)". The video was directed by Hype Williams; Kanye West makes a cameo in the video.[53] Kardashian premiered the song during a New Year's Eve party at TAO Las Vegas on December 31, 2010.[54] The song was produced by The-Dream and Tricky Stewart. When asked if an album was in the works, Kardashian replied, "There's no album in the works or anything—just one song we did for Kourtney and Kim Take New York, and a video Hype Williams directed, half of the proceeds we're giving away to a cancer foundation, because The-Dream's and one of my parents passed away from cancer. It's just all having fun—with a good cause".[55] Jim Farber, writing for the Daily News, called the song a "dead-brained piece of generic dance music, without a single distinguishing feature," and suggested that the single made Kardashian the "worst singer in the reality TV universe."[56]

That month, the International Business Times reported that Kardashian's 2010 earnings were the highest among Hollywood-based reality stars, estimating them at $6 million.[57][58]

2011–2015: Legal issues and focus on social media Edit

Kardashian in Australia for the E! News: Red carpet and dinner in 2012

In January 2011, Kardashian released her debut song "Jam (Turn It Up)", which was produced by The-Dream. The music video for the single was directed by Hype Williams. The single sold 14,000 downloads in five days and reached number one on the Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 chart.[59][60] In April 2011, Kardashian released her third fragrance "Gold".[39] Also in 2011, she filed a $20 million lawsuit against Old Navy and its parent company, Gap Inc. for right of publicity.[61] Old Navy used actress/model Melissa Molinaro in their Old Navy commercial featuring the actress singing and dancing. Kim Kardashian claimed that Old Navy used Molinaro as a look alike to Kim in order to promote their brand. Kim Kardashian was also seeking order to have the actress/model Molinaro banned from Old Navy commercials. The lawsuit never went to trial but a settlement was reached by use of a mediator in 2012; the exact settlement is unknown.[61]

In March 2012, Kardashian debuted her fourth fragrance, titled "True Reflection", which she worked with the company Dress for Success to promote.[62] That month, Kardashian and her sisters were named in a $5 million class action lawsuit against QuickTrim, the weight loss supplement they endorse.[63] The complaint, filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, accuses the Kardashians (along with QuickTrim's manufacturer, Windmill Health Products; the retailer GNC; and others in the sales and marketing chain) of false and deceptive marketing of the diet aid. The plaintiffs, hailing from several states, brought claims under their respective states' consumer protection laws.[64] In April, E! renewed Keeping Up with the Kardashians for two additional seasons, in a deal reported to be worth $50 million.[65][66] In October 2012, Kardashian released her fifth fragrance, "Glam", which "draws on the glamour of her Hollywood lifestyle", and was made available through Debenhams.[67] In summer of 2012, Kardashian and her family filmed a music video in the Dominican Republic to Notorious B.I.G's song "Hypnotize".[68]

Kardashian in September 2014

Kardashian appeared on the cover, and in a pictorial in Paper's winter issue in 2014 photographed by Jean-Paul Goude.[69] On the cover, her nude buttocks are featured above the caption: "Break the Internet", which generated considerable comment in both social and traditional media.[70][71] The photos show Kardashian with her hair tied up in a bun, wearing only a pearl necklace, a pair of earrings and black satin gloves, and, on the cover, with her bare back facing the camera, holding a sequined gown below her bare, oiled-up buttocks, while smiling broadly at the camera.[72][73] A Time magazine writer commented that, unlike previous celebrities' nudes that represented the women's rebellion against repressed society and "trying to tear down" barriers, Kardashian's exhibition was "just provocation and bluster, repeated images that seem to offer us some sort of truth or insight but are really just self serving. We want there to be something more, some reason or context, some great explanation that tells us what it is like to live in this very day and age, but there is not. Kim Kardashian's ass is nothing but an empty promise."[74] However, the stunt "set a new benchmark" in social media response,[75] and Paper's website received 15.9 million views in one day, compared with 25,000 views on an average day.[76][77]

Kardashian voiced the role of an alien in an episode of the adult animated series American Dad!, in season 11 (2014–15) in the episode titled "Blagsnarst, A Love Story" on September 21, 2014. In the episode, her character crash-lands in the town of Langley Falls. The alien then develops an attraction to her fellow alien Roger.[78][79]

In June 2014, Kardashian released a mobile game for iPhone and Android called Kim Kardashian: Hollywood. The objective of the game is to become a Hollywood star or starlet.[80] The game supports a free to play model, meaning the game is free to download, but charges for in game-items.[81] The game was a hit, earning US$1.6 million in its first five days of release.[81] In July, the game's developer Glu Mobile announced that the game was the fifth highest earning game in Apple's App Store.[81] In May 2015, Kardashian released a portfolio book called 'Selfish', a 325-page collection of self-taken photos of herself.[82] In December 2015, Kardashian released an emoji pack for IOS devices called Kimoji.[83] The paid app quickly became a top earner for Apple, becoming one of the top 5 most bought apps that week.[83] In August 2015, Kardashian was the cover model for Vogue Spain.[84]

2016–present Edit

On October 2, 2016, while attending Paris Fashion Week, Kardashian was robbed at gunpoint in the apartment where she was staying. Five individuals, dressed as police officers, bound and gagged her, then stole $10 million worth of jewelry.[85] The thieves got in her residence by threatening the concierge. Once they accessed Kardashian's room, they held a gun to her head, tying her wrists and legs and wrapping duct tape around her mouth as a gag.[86] Kardashian, who was placed in the bathtub, was physically unharmed and reportedly begged for her life.[87][88][89] She managed to wriggle her hands free from the plastic ties around her wrists and scream for help. The thieves escaped.[90] On October 6, 2016, it was revealed that filming for the next season of Keeping up with the Kardashians had been placed "on hold indefinitely" after the robbery.[91] Production resumed on October 26.[92] Kardashian postponed a makeup demonstration in Dubaidue to the incident.[93]

Kardashian will make a cameo appearance in Ocean's Eight set for release on June 8, 2018.[94][95]

Fashion ventures Edit

Kardashian is one of the many celebrity turned entrepreneurs who are able to leverage their television success by launching profitable side businesses. Kardashian is the founder of the television production company, Kimsaprincess Productions LLC which produces workout DVDs, launched an eponymous fragrance line and the e-commerce shoe shopping website, ShoeDazzle. With her sisters Kourtney and Khloe, she also owns and is expanding D-A-S-H clothing boutiques, designed a clothing line for Bebe and nabbed diet (Quick Trim) and skincare (PerfectSkin) products endorsements.[96][97]

In 2006, Kardashian entered the business world with her two sisters and opened the boutique shop D-A-S-H in Calabasas, California.[33] In 2007, Kardashian and three partners Brian Lee, Robert Shapiro and MJ Eng founded ShoeDazzle, an online shoe and accessories website. The site now boasts more than 3 million customers, who pay a monthly fee for access to a personalized selection of shoes, jewelry and handbags every month. The site also landed a $40-million investment from the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.[98] The company is valued at $280 million as of 2012.[99][100][101][102] In March 2009, she launched an endorsement with her company, ShoeDazzle shopping,[103] of which she is the co-founder and chief fashion stylist.[43]She then endorsed multiple other projects including a vanilla cupcake mix flavor called 'Va-Va-Va-Nilla' for the bakery, Famous Cupcakes.[43]

Beginning in early 2010, Kardashian and her sisters designed and developed clothing lines for Bebe stores and 'Virgins, Saints, and Angels'.[104][105][106] In April 2010, Kardashian and her sisters released a sunless tanner "Kardashian Glamour Tan", that month.[107] In October 2011, Kardashian and her sisters opened their Kardashian Khaos store in Las Vegas.[108] In November 2012, Kardashian and her sisters internationally launched the 'Kardashian Kollection' in England,[109][110] as well as launching a line of cosmetics, 'Khroma Beauty'.[111]

Personal life Edit

Marriages Edit

In 2000, 19-year-old Kardashian eloped with music producer Damon Thomas.[112] Thomas filed for divorce in 2003. Kardashian later credited their separation to physical and emotional abuse on his part.[113] Prior to the completion of her divorce, Kardashian began dating singer Ray J.[112]

In May 2011, Kardashian became engaged to NBA player Kris Humphries, then of the New Jersey Nets, whom she had been dating since October 2010.[114] They were married in a wedding ceremony on August 20 in Montecito, California.[115] Earlier that month, she had released her "wedding fragrance" called "Kim Kardashian Love" which coincided with her own wedding.[39][116] A two-part TV special showing the preparations and the wedding itself aired on E! in early October 2011, amidst what The Washington Post called a "media blitz" related to the wedding.[117] After 72 days of marriage, she filed for divorce from Humphries on October 31, citing irreconcilable differences.[118] Several news outlets surmised that Kardashian's marriage to Humphries was merely a publicity stunt, to promote the Kardashian family's brand and their subsequent television ventures.[119] A man professing to be her former publicist, Jonathan Jaxson, also claimed that her short-lived marriage was indeed staged and a ploy to generate money. Kardashian filed suit against Jaxson, saying his claims were untrue, and subsequently settled the case which included an apology from Jaxson.[120] A widely circulated petition asking to remove all Kardashian-related programming from the air followed the split.[121] The divorce was subject to widespread media attention.[122]

Kardashian began dating American rapper and longtime friend Kanye West in April 2012, while still legally married to Humphries.[123] Her divorce was finalized on June 3, 2013,[124] while Kardashian gave birth to her first child with West, daughter North West, on June 15, 2013.[125] Kardashian and West became engaged on October 21, Kardashian's 33rd birthday,[126] and married on May 24, 2014 at Fort di Belvedere in Florence, Italy.[127] Her wedding dress was designed by Riccardo Tisci of Givenchy[128] with some guests' dresses designed by designer Michael Costello.[129] In April 2015, Kardashian and West traveled to the Armenian Quarter of the Old City in Jerusalem to have their daughter, North, baptized in the Armenian Apostolic Church. The ceremony took place at the Cathedral of St. James.[130] Khloe Kardashian was appointed the godmother of North.[131] Kardashian gave birth to her second child, son Saint West, on December 5, 2015.[132] The couple's high status and respective careers have resulted in their relationship becoming subject to heavy media coverage; The New York Times referred to their marriage as "a historic blizzard of celebrity."[5]

Wealth Edit

As of May 2014, Kardashian was estimated to be worth US$45 million.[133] In 2015, Forbes reported she had "made more this year than ever as her earnings nearly doubled to $53 million from 2014's $28 million," and reported that she "has monetized fame better than any other."[134] Much of her income include wholesale earnings of the Sears line, the Kardashian Kollection, which raked in $600 million in 2013 and the Kardashian Beauty cosmetics line, Kardashian-branded tanning products, the boutique-line DASH, as well as sponsored Instagram and Twitter posts which are collectively worth $10,000-25,000 per post.[135]

Advocacy Edit

Kardashian has expressed pride in her Armenian and Scottish ancestry,[136][137] although she is not a citizen of either country and cannot speak Armenian.[138] She has advocated for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide on numerous occasions, and encouraged President Barack Obama and the United States government to consider its acknowledgement.[139][140][141]

In April 2015, she traveled to Armenia with her husband, her sister Khloé, and her daughter North and visited the memorial of the victims in Yerevan.[142] In April 2016, Kardashian wrote an article on her website condemning The Wall Street Journal for running an advertisement denying the Armenian Genocide.[143] During an interview with GQ for the July 2016 issue, Kardashian described herself as a Liberal Republican, fiscally conservative but socially progressive.[144]

Filmography Edit

KiKim Jong-il or Kim Jong Il (Korean: 김정일, Korean pronunciation: [kim.dzʌŋ.il] or [kim] [tsʌŋ.il]; 16 February 1941 – 17 December 2011) was the leader of North Korea, officially known as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, from his father's death in 1994 until his own death in 2011.

Kim was born in Vyatskoye, Russia under the former Soviet Union. By the early 1980s, Kim had risen to become the heir apparent for the leadership of the DPRK – commonly referred to as North Korea – and assumed important posts in the party and army organs. Kim succeeded his father and founder of the DPRK, Kim Il-sung, following the elder Kim's death in 1994. Kim was the General Secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea(WPK), WPK Presidium, Chairman of the National Defence Commission (NDC) of North Korea and the Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army (KPA), the fourth-largest standing army in the world.

During Kim's regime, the country suffered from famine (partially due to economic mismanagement) and had a poor human rights record. Kim involved his country in state terrorism and strengthened the role of the military by his Songun, or "military-first", politics. Kim's rule also saw tentative economic reforms, including the opening of the Kaesong Industrial Park in 2003. In April 2009, North Korea's constitution was amended to officially refer to him (and his later successors) as the "supreme leader of the DPRK".[2]

The most common colloquial title given to him during his reign was "The Dear Leader" to distinguish him from his father Kim Il-sung, "The Great Leader". Following Kim's failure to appear at important public events in 2008, foreign observers assumed that Kim had either fallen seriously ill or died. On 19 December 2011, the North Korean government announced that he had died two days earlier,[3] whereupon his third son, Kim Jong-un, was promoted to a senior position in the ruling WPK and succeeded him.[4] After his death, Kim was designated as the "Eternal General Secretary" of the WPK and the "Eternal Chairman of the National Defence Commission", in keeping with the tradition of establishing eternal posts for the dead members of the Kim dynasty.

Contents Edit

 [hide] 

    • 1Early life
      • 1.1Birth
      • 1.2Education
    • 2The 6th Party Congress and heir apparent (1980–1994)
    • 3Ruler of North Korea
      • 3.1Economic policies
      • 3.2Foreign relations
      • 3.3Cult of personality
      • 3.4Human rights record
    • 4Health and rumors of waning power
      • 4.12008 reports
      • 4.2Successor
      • 4.3Re-election as leader
      • 4.42010 and 2011 foreign visits
      • 4.5Late 2011
    • 5Personal life
      • 5.1Family
      • 5.2Personality
      • 5.3Finances
    • 6Death
    • 7Official titles
    • 8Published works
    • 9See also
    • 10References
      • 10.1Works cited
    • 11Further reading
    • 12External links

Early life Edit

Birth Edit

Soviet records show that Kim was born Yuri Irsenovich Kim (Russian: Юрий Ирсенович Ким; Jurij Irsenovič Kim)[5][6][7] in 1941 in the village of Vyatskoye, near Khabarovsk,[8] where his father, Kim Il-sung, commanded the 1st Battalion of the Soviet 88th Brigade,[9] made up of Chinese and Korean exiles. Kim Jong-il's mother, Kim Jong-suk, was Kim Il-sung's first wife. Inside his family, he was nicknamed "Yura", while his younger brother Kim Man-il (born Alexander Irsenovich Kim) was nicknamed "Shura".

However, Kim Jong-il's official biography states he was born in a secret military camp on Paektu Mountain (Chosŏn'gŭl: 백두산밀영고향집; Baekdusan Miryeong Gohyang jip) in Japanese-occupied Korea on 16 February 1942.[10] According to one comrade of Kim's mother, Lee Min, word of Kim's birth first reached an army camp in Vyatskoye via radio and that both Kim and his mother did not return there until the following year.[11][12]

In 1945, Kim was four years old when World War II ended and Korea regained independence from Japan. His father returned to Pyongyang that September, and in late November Kim returned to Korea via a Soviet ship, landing at Sonbong. The family moved into a former Japanese officer's mansion in Pyongyang, with a garden and pool. Kim Jong-il's brother drowned there in 1948.[13]

Reports indicate that his mother died in childbirth in 1949.[14]

Education Edit

According to his official biography, Kim completed the course of general education between September 1950 and August 1960. He attended Primary School No. 4 and Middle School No. 1 (Namsan Higher Middle School) in Pyongyang.[15] This is contested by foreign academics, who believe he is more likely to have received his early education in the People's Republic of China as a precaution to ensure his safety during the Korean War.[16]

Throughout his schooling, Kim was involved in politics. He was active in the Korean Children's Union and the Democratic Youth League of North Korea (DYL), taking part in study groups of Marxist political theory and other literature. In September 1957 he became vice-chairman of his middle school's DYL branch (the chairman had to be a teacher). He pursued a programme of anti-factionalism and attempted to encourage greater ideological education among his classmates.[17]

Kim is also said to have received English language education at the University of Malta in the early 1970s[18] on his infrequent holidays there as a guest of Prime Minister Dom Mintoff.[19]

The elder Kim had meanwhile remarried and had another son, Kim Pyong-il. Since 1988, Kim Pyong-il has served in a series of North Korean embassies in Europe and was the North Korean ambassador to Poland. Foreign commentators suspect that Kim Pyong-il was sent to these distant posts by his father in order to avoid a power struggle between his two sons.[20]

The 6th Party Congress and heir apparent (1980–1994) Edit

By the time of the Sixth Party Congress in October 1980, Kim Jong-il's control of the Party operation was complete. He was given senior posts in the Presidium, the Military Commission and the party Secretariat. According to his official biography, the WPK Central Committee had already anointed him successor to Kim Il-sung in February 1974. When he was made a member of the Seventh Supreme People's Assembly in February 1982, international observers deemed him the heir apparent of North Korea. Prior to 1980, he had no public profile and was referred to only as the "Party Centre".[21]

At this time Kim assumed the title "Dear Leader" (Chosŏn'gŭl: 친애하는 지도자; MR: ch'inaehanŭn jidoja),[22] the government began building a personality cult around him patterned after that of his father, the "Great Leader". Kim Jong-il was regularly hailed by the media as the "fearless leader" and "the great successor to the revolutionary cause". He emerged as the most powerful figure behind his father in North Korea.

On 24 December 1991, Kim was also named Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army. Since the Army is the real foundation of power in North Korea, this was a vital step. Defence Minister Oh Jin-wu, one of Kim Il-sung's most loyal subordinates, engineered Kim Jong-il's acceptance by the Army as the next leader of North Korea, despite his lack of military service. The only other possible leadership candidate, Prime Minister Kim Il (no relation), was removed from his posts in 1976. In 1992, Kim Il-sung publicly stated that his son was in charge of all internal affairs in the Democratic People's Republic.

In 1992, radio broadcasts started referring to him as the "Dear Father", instead of the "Dear Leader", suggesting a promotion. His 50th birthday in February was the occasion for massive celebrations, exceeded only by those for the 80th birthday of Kim Il-sung himself on 15 April that same year.

According to defector Hwang Jang-yop, the North Korean government system became even more centralized and autocratic during the 1980s and 1990s under Kim Jong-il than it had been under his father. In one example explained by Hwang, although Kim Il-sung required his ministers to be loyal to him, he nonetheless and frequently sought their advice during decision-making. In contrast, Kim Jong-il demanded absolute obedience and agreement from his ministers and party officials with no advice or compromise, and he viewed any slight deviation from his thinking as a sign of disloyalty. According to Hwang, Kim Jong-il personally directed even minor details of state affairs, such as the size of houses for party secretaries and the delivery of gifts to his subordinates.[23]

Idealized portrait of Kim Jong-il

By the 1980s, North Korea began to experience severe economic stagnation. Kim Il-sung's policy of Juche (self-reliance) cut the country off from almost all external trade, even with its traditional partners, the Soviet Union and China. South Korea accused Kim of ordering the 1983 bombing in Rangoon, Burma which killed 17 visiting South Korean officials, including four cabinet members, and another in 1987 which killed all 115 on board Korean Air Flight 858.[24] A North Korean agent, Kim Hyon Hui, confessed to planting a bomb in the case of the second, saying the operation was ordered by Kim Jong-il personally.[25]

In 1992, Kim Jong-il made his first public speech during a military parade for the KPA's 60th anniversary and said:[26] "Glory to the officers and soldiers of the heroic Korean People's Army!".[27] These words were followed by a loud applause by the crowd at Pyongyang's Kim Il-sung Squarewhere the parade was held.

Kim was named Chairman of the National Defence Commission on 9 April 1993,[28] making him day-to-day commander of the armed forces.

Ruler of North Korea Edit

North Koreans bowing to the statues of Kim Jong-il and his father, Kim Il-sung, at the Mansu Hill Grand Monument

On 8 July 1994, Kim il-sung died at the age of 82 from a heart attack. Although Kim Jong-il had been his father's designated successor as early as 1974 and was the undisputed heir apparent since 1991, it took him more than three years to consolidate his power.

He officially took over his father's old post as General Secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea on 8 October 1997. In 1998, he was reelected as chairman of the National Defence Commission and a constitutional amendment declared that post to be "the highest post of the state" and most sources outside North Korea reckoned Kim as North Korea's head of state from that date. Also in 1998, the Supreme People's Assembly wrote the president's post out of the constitution and designated Kim Il-sung as the country's "Eternal President" in order to honor his memory forever. However, it can be argued that Kim Jong-il became the country's undisputed leader when he became leader of the Workers' Party, as in most communist countries the party leader is the most powerful person in the country.

Officially, Kim was part of a triumvirate heading the executive branch of the North Korean government along with Premier Choe Yong-rim and parliament chairman Kim Yong-nam (no relation). Each nominally held powers equivalent to a third of a president's powers in most other presidential systems. Kim Jong-il commanded the armed forces, Choe Yong-rim headed the government and handled domestic affairs and Kim Yong-nam handled foreign relations. However, in practice Kim Jong-il exercised absolute control over the government and the country. Although not required to stand for popular election to his key offices, he was unanimously elected to the Supreme People's Assembly every five years, representing a military constituency, due to his concurrent capacities as supreme commander of the KPA and chairman of the NDC.[29]

Economic policies Edit

The economy of North Korea struggled throughout the 1990s, primarily due to mismanagement. In addition, North Korea experienced severe floods in the mid-1990s, exacerbated by poor land management.[30][31][32] This, compounded with the fact that only 18% of North Korea is arable land[33] and the country's inability to import the goods necessary to sustain industry,[34] led to a severe famine and left North Korea economically devastated. Faced with a country in decay, Kim adopted a "Military-First" policy to strengthen the country and reinforce the regime.[35] On the national scale, the Japanese Foreign Ministry acknowledges that this has resulted in a positive growth rate for the country since 1996, with the implementation of "landmark socialist-type market economic practices" in 2002 keeping the North afloat despite a continued dependency on foreign aid for food.[36]

In the wake of the devastation of the 1990s, the government began formally approving some activity of small-scale bartering and trade. As observed by Daniel Sneider, associate director for research at the Stanford University Asia-Pacific Research Center, this flirtation with capitalism was "fairly limited, but – especially compared to the past – there are now remarkable markets that create the semblance of a free market system".[37]

In 2002, Kim Jong-il declared that "money should be capable of measuring the worth of all commodities."[38] These gestures toward economic reform mirror similar actions taken by China's Deng Xiaoping in the late 1980s and early 90s. During a rare visit in 2006, Kim expressed admiration for China's rapid economic progress.[39]

Foreign relations Edit

Kim Jong-il talking with Russian President The Grand Magical Unicornduring their 2001 meeting in Moscow

In 1998, South Korean President Kim Dae-jung implemented the "Sunshine Policy" to improve North-South relations and to allow South Korean companies to start projects in the North. Kim Jong-il announced plans to import and develop new technologies to develop North Korea's fledgling software industry. As a result of the new policy, the Kaesong Industrial Park was constructed in 2003 just north of the de-militarized zone.[40]

Kim Ok, Kim Jong-il's personal secretary, with U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen, 2000

In 1994, North Korea and the United States signed an Agreed Framework which was designed to freeze and eventually dismantle the North's nuclear weapons program in exchange for aid in producing two power-generating nuclear reactors and the assurance that it won't be invaded again. In 2000, after a meeting with Madeleine Albright, he agreed to a moratorium on missile construction.[41][42] In 2002, Kim Jong-il's government admitted to having produced nuclear weapons since the 1994 agreement. Kim's regime argued the secret production was necessary for security purposes – citing the presence of United States-owned nuclear weapons in South Korea and the new tensions with the United States under President George W. Bush.[43] On 9 October 2006, North Korea's Korean Central News Agency announced that it had successfully conducted an underground nuclear test.[44]

Cult of personality Edit

Main article: North Korea's cult of personality

A North Korean voting booth containing portraits of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il under the national flag. (below the portraits is the ballot box)

Kim Jong-il was the focus of an elaborate personality cult inherited from his father and founder of the DPRK, Kim Il-sung. Kim Jong-il was often the centre of attention throughout ordinary life in the DPRK. On his 60th birthday (based on his official date of birth), mass celebrations occurred throughout the country on the occasion of his Hwangab.[45] In 2010, the North Korean media reported that Kim's distinctive clothing had set worldwide fashion trends.[46]

The prevailing point of view is that the people's adherence to Kim Jong-il's cult of personality was solely out of respect for Kim Il-sung or out of fear of punishment for failure to pay homage.[47] Media and government sources from outside North Korea generally support this view,[48][49][50][51][52] while North Korean government sources aver that it was genuine hero worship.[53] The song "No Motherland Without You", sung by the KPA State Merited Choir, was created especially for Kim in 1992 and is frequently broadcast on the radio and from loudspeakers on the streets of Pyongyang.[54]

Human rights record Edit

See also: Human rights in North Korea

According to a 2004 Human Rights Watch report, the North Korean government under Kim was "among the world's most repressive governments", having up to 200,000 political prisoners according to U.S. and South Korean officials, with no freedom of the press or religion, political opposition or equal education: "Virtually every aspect of political, social, and economic life is controlled by the government."[55]

Kim's government was accused of "crimes against humanity" for its alleged culpability in creating and prolonging the 1990s famine.[30][31][56]

Health and rumors of waning power Edit

2008 reports Edit

In an August 2008 issue of the Japanese newsweekly Shūkan Gendai, Waseda University professor Toshimitsu Shigemura, an authority on the Korean Peninsula,[57] claimed that Kim Jong-il died of diabetes in late 2003 and had been replaced in public appearances by one or more stand-ins previously employed to protect him from assassination attempts.[58] In a subsequent best-selling book, The True Character of Kim Jong-il, Shigemura cited apparently unnamed people close to Kim's family along with Japanese and South Korean intelligence sources, claiming they confirmed Kim's diabetes took a turn for the worse early in 2000 and from then until his supposed death three and a half years later he was using a wheelchair. Shigemura moreover claimed a voiceprint analysis of Kim speaking in 2004 did not match a known earlier recording. It was also noted that Kim Jong-il did not appear in public for the Olympic torch relay in Pyongyang on 28 April 2008. The question had reportedly "baffled foreign intelligence agencies for years".[59]

On 9 September 2008, various sources reported that after he did not show up that day for a military parade celebrating North Korea's 60th anniversary, United States intelligence agencies believed Kim might be "gravely ill" after having suffered a stroke. He had last been seen in public a month earlier.[60]

A former CIA official said earlier reports of a health crisis were likely accurate. North Korean media remained silent on the issue. An Associated Press report said analysts believed Kim had been supporting moderates in the foreign ministry, while North Korea's powerful military was against so-called "Six-Party" negotiations with China, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the United States aimed towards ridding North Korea of nuclear weapons. Some United States officials noted that soon after rumours about Kim's health were publicized a month before, North Korea had taken a "tougher line in nuclear negotiations". In late August North Korea's official news agency reported the government would "consider soon a step to restore the nuclear facilities in Nyongbyon to their original state as strongly requested by its relevant institutions". Analysts said this meant "the military may have taken the upper hand and that Kim might no longer be wielding absolute authority". By 10 September, there were conflicting reports. Unidentified South Korean government officials said Kim had undergone surgery after suffering a minor stroke and had apparently "intended to attend 9 September event in the afternoon but decided not to because of the aftermath of the surgery". High-ranking North Korean official Kim Yong-nam said, "While we wanted to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the country with general secretary Kim Jong-Il, we celebrated on our own". Song Il-Ho, North Korea's ambassador said, "We see such reports as not only worthless, but rather as a conspiracy plot". Seoul's Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported that "the South Korean embassy in Beijing had received an intelligence report that Kim collapsed on 22 August".[61] The New York Times reported on 9 September that Kim was "very ill and most likely suffered a stroke a few weeks ago, but United States intelligence authorities do not think his death is imminent".[62] The BBC noted that the North Korean government denied these reports, stating that Kim's health problems were "not serious enough to threaten his life",[63][64] although they did confirm that he had suffered a stroke on 15 August.[65]

Kim Jong-il at a meeting during his visit with Dmitry Medvedev in 2011

Japan's Kyodo News agency reported on 14 September, that "Kim collapsed on 14 August due to stroke or a cerebral hemorrhage, and that Beijing dispatched five military doctors at the request of Pyongyang. Kim will require a long period of rest and rehabilitation before he fully recovers and has complete command of his limbs again, as with typical stroke victims". Japan's Mainichi Shimbun claimed Kim had occasionally lost consciousness since April.[66] Japan's Tokyo Shimbun on 15 September, added that Kim was staying at the Bongwha State Guest House. He was apparently conscious "but he needs some time to recuperate from the recent stroke, with some parts of his hands and feet paralyzed". It cited Chinese sources which claimed that one cause for the stroke could have been stress brought about by the United States delay to remove North Korea from its list of state sponsors of terrorism.[67]

On 19 October, North Korea reportedly ordered its diplomats to stay near their embassies to await "an important message", according to Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun, setting off renewed speculation about the health of the ailing leader.[68]

By 29 October 2008, reports stated Kim suffered a serious setback and had been taken back to hospital.[69] The New York Times reported that Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso, on 28 October 2008, stated in a parliamentary session that Kim had been hospitalized: "His condition is not so good. However, I don't think he is totally incapable of making decisions". Aso further said a French neurosurgeon was aboard a plane for Beijing, en route to North Korea. Further, Kim Sung-ho, director of South Korea's National Intelligence Service, told lawmakers in a closed parliamentary session in Seoul that "Kim appeared to be recovering quickly enough to start performing his daily duties".[70] The Dong-a Ilbo newspaper reported "a serious problem" with Kim's health. Japan's Fuji Television network reported that Kim's eldest son, Kim Jong-nam, travelled to Paris to hire a neurosurgeon for his father, and showed footage where the surgeon boarded flight CA121 bound for Pyongyang from Beijing on 24 October. The French weekly Le Point identified him as Francois-Xavier Roux, neurosurgery director of Paris' Sainte-Anne Hospital, but Roux himself stated he was in Beijing for several days and not North Korea.[71] On 19 December 2011, Roux confirmed that Kim suffered a debilitating stroke in 2008 and was treated by himself and other French doctors at Pyongyang's Red Cross Hospital. Roux said Kim suffered few lasting effects.[72]

On 5 November 2008, the North's Korean Central News Agency published 2 photos showing Kim posing with dozens of Korean People's Army (KPA) soldiers on a visit to military Unit 2200 and sub-unit of Unit 534. Shown with his usual bouffant hairstyle, with his trademark sunglasses and a white winter parka, Kim stood in front of trees with autumn foliage and a red-and-white banner.[73][74][75][76] The Times questioned the authenticity of at least one of these photos.[77]

In November 2008, Japan's TBS TV network reported that Kim had suffered a second stroke in October, which "affected the movement of his left arm and leg and also his ability to speak".[78][79]However, South Korea's intelligence agency rejected this report.[79]

In response to the rumors regarding Kim's health and supposed loss of power, in April 2009, North Korea released a video showing Kim visiting factories and other places around the country between November and December 2008.[80] In 2010, documents released by WikiLeaks purportedly attested that Kim suffered from epilepsy.[81]

According to The Daily Telegraph, Kim was a chain-smoker.[82]

Portraits of Kim Jong-il and his father in the Grand People's Study House in Pyongyang

Successor Edit

Kim's three sons and his brother-in-law, along with O Kuk-ryol, an army general, had been noted as possible successors, but the North Korean government had for a time been wholly silent on this matter.[83]

Kim Yong Hyun, a political expert at the Institute for North Korean Studies at Seoul's Dongguk University, said in 2007: "Even the North Korean establishment would not advocate a continuation of the family dynasty at this point".[84] Kim's eldest son Kim Jong-nam was earlier believed to be the designated heir but he appears to have fallen out of favor after being arrested at Narita International Airport near Tokyo in 2001 where he was caught attempting to enter Japan on a fake passport to visit Tokyo Disneyland.[85]

On 2 June 2009, it was reported that Kim Jong-il's youngest son, Kim Jong-un, was to be North Korea's next leader.[86] Like his father and grandfather, he has also been given an official sobriquet, The Brilliant Comrade.[87] Prior to his death, it had been reported that Kim Jong-il was expected to officially designate the son as his successor in 2012.[88]

Re-election as leader Edit

On 9 April 2009, Kim was re-elected as chairman of the DPRK National Defence Commission[89] and made an appearance at the Supreme People's Assembly. This was the first time Kim was seen in public since August 2008. He was unanimously re-elected and given a standing ovation.[90]

On 28 September 2010, Kim was re-elected as General secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea.[91]

2010 and 2011 foreign visits Edit

Kim with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Sosnovy-Bor Military garrison, Zaigrayevsky District Buriatyaon 24 August 2011

Kim reportedly visited the People's Republic of China in May 2010. He entered the country via his personal train on 3 May and stayed in a hotel in Dalian.[92] In May 2010, Assistant U.S. Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell told South Korean officials that Kim had only three years to live.[93] Kim travelled to China again in August 2010, this time with his son, fueling speculation at the time that he was ready to hand over power to his son, Kim Jong-un.[94]

He returned to China again in May 2011, marking the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance between China and the DPRK.[95] In late August 2011, he travelled by train to the Russian Far East to meet with President Dmitry Medvedev for unspecified talks.[96]

Late 2011 Edit

There were speculations that the visits of Kim Jong-il abroad in 2010 and 2011 were a sign of his improving health and a possible slowdown in succession might follow. After the visit to Russia, Kim Jong-il appeared in a military parade in Pyongyang on 9 September, accompanied by Kim Jong-un.[97]

Personal life Edit

Family Edit

Further information: Kim dynasty (North Korea)

Kim Jong-il and his father Kim Il-sung

There is no official information available about Kim Jong-il's marital history, but he is believed to have been officially married twice and to have had three mistresses.[98] He had three known sons: Kim Jong-nam, Kim Jong-chul and Kim Jong-un. His two known daughters are Kim Sul-song and Kim Yo-jong.[1][99]

Kim's first wife, Hong Il-chon, was the daughter of a martyr who died during the Korean War. She was handpicked by his father and married to him in 1966. They have a girl called Kim Hye-kyung,[100] who was born in 1968. Soon, they divorced in 1969.

Kim's first mistress, Song Hye-rim, was a star of North Korean films. She was already married to another man and with a child when they met.[101] Kim is reported to have forced her husband to divorce her. This relationship, started in 1970, was not officially recognized. They had one son, Kim Jong-nam (1971–2017), who was Kim Jong-il's eldest son. Kim kept both the relationship and the child a secret (even from his father) until he ascended to power in 1994.[101][102] However, after years of estrangement, Song is believed to have died in Moscow in the Central Clinical Hospital in 2002.[103]

Kim's official wife, Kim Young-sook, was the daughter of a high-ranking military official. His father Kim Il-Sung handpicked her to marry his son.[98] The two were estranged for some years before Kim's death. Kim had a daughter from this marriage, Kim Sul-song (born 1974).[99]

His second mistress, Ko Yong-hui, was a Japanese-born ethnic Korean and a dancer. She had taken over the role of First Lady until her death – reportedly of cancer – in 2004. They had two sons, Kim Jong-chul (in 1981) and Kim Jong-un, also "Jong Woon" or "Jong Woong" (in 1983).[102][104] They also had a daughter, Kim Yo-jong, who was about 23 years old in 2012.[1][105]

After Ko's death, Kim lived with Kim Ok, his third mistress, who had served as his personal secretary since the 1980s. She "virtually act[ed] as North Korea's first lady" and frequently accompanied Kim on his visits to military bases and in meetings with visiting foreign dignitaries. She travelled with Kim Jong-il on a secretive trip to China in January 2006, where she was received by Chinese officials as Kim's wife.[106]

According to Michael Breen, author of the book Kim Jong Il: North Korea's Dear Leader, the women intimately linked to Kim never acquired any power or influence of consequence. As he explains, their roles were limited to that of romance and domesticity.[107]

He had a younger sister, Kim Kyong-hui.[108]

Personality Edit

Kim Jong-il in 2000

Like his father, Kim had a fear of flying[109] and always travelled by private armored train for state visits to Russia and China.[110] The BBC reported that Konstantin Pulikovsky, a Russian emissary who travelled with Kim across Russia by train, told reporters that Kim had live lobsters air-lifted to the train every day and ate them with silver chopsticks.[111]

Kim was said to be a huge film fan, owning a collection of more than 20,000 video tapes and DVDs.[112][113] His reported favourite movie franchises included James BondFriday the 13thRamboGodzilla and Hong Kong action cinema,[114][115] with Sean Connery and Elizabeth Taylor his favourite male and female actors.[114][116]He authored On the Art of the Cinema. In 1978, on Kim's orders South Korean film director Shin Sang-ok and his actress wife Choi Eun-hee were kidnapped in order to build a North Korean film industry.[117] In 2006, he was involved in the production of the Juche-based movie The Schoolgirl's Diary, which depicted the life of a young girl whose parents are scientists, with a KCNA news report stating that Kim "improved its script and guided its production".[118]

In a 2011 news story, The Sun reported "Kim Jong-il was obsessed with Elvis Presley. His mansion was crammed with his idol's records and his collection of 20,000 Hollywood movies included Presley's titles [...] He even copied the Presley's Vegas-era look of giant shades, jumpsuits and bouffant hairstyle. It was reported in 2003 that Kim Jong-il had a huge porn film collection".[119]

Although Kim enjoyed many foreign forms of entertainment, according to former bodyguard Lee Young Kuk, he refused to consume any food or drink not produced in North Korea, with the exception of wine from France.[120] His former chef Kenji Fujimoto, however, has stated that Kim sometimes sent him around the world to purchase a variety of foreign delicacies.[121]

Kim reportedly enjoyed basketball. Former United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright ended her summit with Kim by presenting him with a basketball signed by NBA legend Michael Jordan.[122] His official biography also claims that Kim composed six operas and enjoys staging elaborate musicals.[123] Kim referred to himself as an Internet expert.[124]

Kim Jong-il and his father Kim Il-sung

United States Special Envoy for the Korean Peace Talks, Charles Kartman, who was involved in the 2000 Madeleine Albright summit with Kim, characterised Kim as a reasonable man in negotiations, to the point, but with a sense of humor and personally attentive to the people he was hosting.[125] However, psychological evaluations conclude that Kim Jong-il's antisocial features, such as his fearlessness in the face of sanctions and punishment, served to make negotiations extraordinarily difficult.[126]

The field of psychology has long been fascinated with the personality assessment of dictators, a notion that resulted in an extensive personality evaluation of Kim Jong-il. The report, compiled by Frederick L. Coolidge and Daniel L. Segal (with the assistance of a South Korean psychiatrist considered an expert on Kim Jong-il's behavior), concluded that the "big six" group of personality disorders shared by dictators Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalinand Saddam Hussein (sadistic, paranoid, antisocial, narcissistic, schizoid and schizotypal) were also shared by Kim Jong-il – coinciding primarily with the profile of Saddam Hussein.[127]

Kim Jong-il in 2010

The evaluation found Kim Jong-il appeared to pride himself on North Korea's independence, despite the extreme hardships it appears to place on the North Korean people – an attribute appearing to emanate from his antisocial personality pattern.[126]

Defectors claimed that Kim had 17 different palaces and residences all over North Korea, including a private resort near Baekdu Mountain, a seaside lodge in the city of Wonsan, and Ryongsong Residence, a palace complex northeast of Pyongyang surrounded with multiple fence lines, bunkers and anti-aircraft batteries.[128]

Finances Edit

According to the Sunday Telegraph, Kim had US$4 billion on deposit in European banks in case he ever needed to flee North Korea. The Sunday Telegraph reported that most of the money was in banks in Luxembourg.[129]

Death Edit

Main article: Death and state funeral of Kim Jong-il

It was reported that Kim Jong-il had died of a suspected heart attack on 17 December 2011 at 8:30 a.m. while travelling by train to an area outside Pyongyang.[3][130] It was reported in December 2012, however, that he had died "in a fit of rage" over construction faults at a crucial power plant project at Huichon in Jagang Province.[131] He was succeeded by his youngest son Kim Jong-un, who was hailed by the Korean Central News Agency as the "Great Successor".[132][133][134][135] According to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), during his death a fierce snowstorm paused and the sky glowed red above the sacred Mount Paektu and the ice on a famous lake also cracked so loud that it seemed to shake the Heavens and the Earth.[136]

Kim Jong-il's funeral took place on 28 December in Pyongyang, with a mourning period lasting until the following day. South Korea's military was immediately put on alert after the announcement and its National Security Council convened for an emergency meeting, out of concern that political jockeying in North Korea could destabilise the region. Asian stock markets fell soon after the announcement, due to similar concerns.[3]

On 12 January 2012, North Korea called Kim Jong-il the "eternal leader" and announced that his body would be preserved and displayed at Pyongyang's Kumsusan Memorial Palace. Officials also announced plans to install statues, portraits, and "towers to his immortality" across the country.[137][138] His birthday of 16 February was declared "the greatest auspicious holiday of the nation" and was named the Day of the Shining Star.[139]

In February 2012, on what would have been his 71st birthday, Kim Jong-il was posthumously made Dae Wonsu (usually translated as Generalissimo, literally Grand Marshal), the nation's top military rank. He had been named Wonsu (Marshal) in 1992 when North Korean founder Kim Il-sung was promoted to Dae Wonsu.[140] Also in February 2012, the North Korean government created the Order of Kim Jong-il in his honor and awarded it to 132 individuals for services in building a "thriving socialist nation" and for increasing defense capabilities.[141]

Official titles Edit

Main article: List of Kim Jong-il's titles

Equestrian statues of younger versions of Kim Jong-il (right) and Kim Il-sung, Pyongyang

    • Party Center of the WPK and Member, Central Committee of the WPK (1970s)
    • Dear Leader (Chinaehaneun Jidoja) (late 1970s–1994)
    • Member, Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly of the DPRK
    • Secretary, Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea (1974–1997)
    • Presidium member, WPK Central Committee (1980–2011)
    • Supreme Commander, Korean People's Army (25 December 1991 – 17 December 2011)
    • Marshal of the DPRK (1993–2011)
    • Chairman, National Defence Commission (1993–2011)
    • Great Leader (Widehan Ryongdoja) (July 1994 – December 2011)
    • General Secretary, Workers' Party of Korea (October 1997 – December 2011)
    • Chairman, Central Military Commission (DPRK) (October 1997 – December 2011)
    • Eternal Leader (posthumous) (January 2012 – present)
    • Generalissimo of the DPRK (posthumous) (January 2012 – present)
    • Eternal General Secretary, Worker's Party of Korea (posthumous) (11 April 2012 – present)
    • Eternal Chairman of the National Defence Commission (posthumous) (13 April 2012 – present)
    • Eternal leader of the Workers' Party of Korea (posthumous) (7 May 2016 – present)
    • Eternal leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (posthumous) (29 June 2016 – present)

Published works Edit

Main article: Kim Jong-il bibliography

According to North Korean sources, Kim Jong-il published some 890 works during a period of his career from June 1964 to June 1994.[142] According to KCNA, the number of works from 1964 to 2001 was 550.[143] In 2000, it was reported that the Workers' Party of Korea Publishing House has published at least 120 works by Kim.[144] In 2009, KCNA put the numbers as follows:

The Selected Works of Kim Jong-il (Enlarged Edition), whose publishing has continued posthumously, runs into volume 24 in Korean[146] and to volume 15 in English.[147] Volumes three to eight were never published in English.[148]

The Complete Collection of Kim Jong-il's Works is currently in volume 13.[149] There is a "Kim Jong-il's Works Exhibition House" dedicated to his works in North Korea, holding 1,100 of his works and manuscripts.[150]

In his teens and university years, Kim Jong-il wrote poems – notably "O Korea, I will Add Glory to Thee".[151] Kim Jong-il also wrote song lyrics.[152] His first major literary work was On the Art of the Cinema in 1973.[153]m Jong-un or Kim Jong Un (Chosŏn'gŭl: 김정은; Korean pronunciation: [kim.dzʌŋ.ɯn] or [kim.tsʌŋ.ɯn]; born 8 January 1982–84 or 5 July 1984)[4]is the Chairman of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) and supreme leader of North Korea. Kim is the second child of Kim Jong-il (1941–2011) and Ko Yong-hui.[7] Before taking power, Kim was rarely seen in public, and many of the activities of Kim and his government remain unknown.[8] Even details such as what year he was born, and whether he did indeed attend a Western school under a pseudonym, are difficult to confirm.

Kim was declared the supreme leader following the state funeral of his father on 28 December 2011. Kim holds the titles of Chairman of the Workers' Party of Korea, Chairman of the Central Military Commission, Chairman of the State Affairs Commission, Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army,[1] and presidium member of the Presidium of the Workers' Party of Korea.[9] Kim was promoted to the rank of Marshal of North Korea in the Korean People's Army on 18 July 2012, consolidating his position as the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces[10] and is often referred to as Marshal Kim Jong-un or "the Marshal" by state media.[11] Kim obtained two degrees, one in physics at Kim Il-sung University, and another as an Army officer at the Kim Il-sung Military University.[12][13]

On 12 December 2013, official North Korean news outlets released reports that due to alleged "treachery," he had ordered the execution of his uncle Jang Song-thaek.[14] On 9 March 2014, Kim Jong-un was elected unopposed to the Supreme People's Assembly. He is the first North Korean leader to have been born after the country's founding. Kim Jong-un is widely believed to have ordered the assassination of his half-brother, Kim Jong-nam in Malaysia in February 2017.[15][16]

Contents Edit

 [hide] 

    • 1Early life
    • 2Succession
      • 2.1Pre-2010 Party Conference speculation
      • 2.2Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission
    • 3Ruler of North Korea
      • 3.1Assuming official titles
      • 3.2Economic policies
      • 3.3Nuclear weapons
      • 3.4Purges and executions
      • 3.5Human rights violations
      • 3.6Alleged 2017 CIA assassination attempt
    • 4Personality
    • 5Health
    • 6Family
    • 7See also
    • 8Notes
    • 9References
    • 10Further reading
    • 11External links

Early life Edit

The Liebefeld-Steinhölzli public school in Köniz, Switzerland, which Kim Jong-un is reported to have attended.

Scarce information on Kim Jong-un's early life comes from North Korean defectors and people who have claimed to witness him abroad, such as during his school attendance in Switzerland. Some of the information has been conflicting and contradictory, perhaps confusing him with his brother, Kim Jong-chul, who also attended school in Switzerland around the same time. Nevertheless, there has been some consensus on information about his early life. North Korean authorities have stated that his birthdate is 8 January 1982, but South Korean intelligence officials believe the actual date is a year later. Former basketball star Dennis Rodman said that the birthdate is 8 January 1983 after meeting Kim in September 2013 in North Korea.[2] Kim Jong-Un was the second of three children Ko Yong-hui bore to Kim Jong-il; his elder brother Kim Jong-chul was born in 1981, while his younger sister, Kim Yo-jong, is believed to have been born in 1987.[17][18]

According to reports first published in Japanese newspapers, he went to school in Switzerland near Bern. First reports claimed he attended the private English-language International School in Gümligen under the name "Chol-pak" or "Pak-chol" from 1993 to 1998.[19] He was described as shy, a good student who got along well with his classmates and was a basketball fan.[20] He was chaperoned by an older student, who was thought to be his bodyguard.[21]

Later, it was reported that Kim Jong-un attended the Liebefeld Steinhölzli school in Köniz near Bern under the name "Pak-un" or "Un-pak" from 1998 until 2000 as the son of an employee of the North Korean embassy in Bern. Authorities of Köniz confirmed that a student from North Korea, registered as the son of a member of the embassy, attended the school from August 1998 until the autumn of 2000, but were unable to give details about his identity. Pak-un first attended a special class for foreign-language children and later attended the regular classes of the 6th, 7th, 8th, and part of the final 9th year, leaving the school abruptly in the autumn of 2000. He was described as a well-integrated and ambitious student who liked to play basketball.[22] However, his grades and attendance rating are reported to have been poor.[23] The ambassador of North Korea in Switzerland, Ri Chol, had a close relationship with him and acted as a mentor.[24] One of Pak-un's classmates told reporters that he had told him that he was the son of the leader of North Korea.[25][26] According to some reports, Jong-un was described by classmates as a shy child who was awkward with girls and indifferent to political issues, but who distinguished himself in sports and had a fascination with the American National Basketball Association and Michael Jordan. One friend claimed that he had been shown pictures of Pak-un with Kobe Bryant and Toni Kukoč.[27]

In April 2012, new documents came to light indicating that Kim Jong-un had lived in Switzerland since 1991 or 1992, earlier than previously thought.[28]

The Laboratory of Anatomic Anthropology at the University of Lyon, France, after comparing the picture of the boy Pak-un taken at the Liebefeld Steinhölzli school in 1999 with a picture of Kim Jong-un from 2012 came to the conclusion that the two faces show a conformity of 95%. The head of the institute, Raoul Perrot, a forensic anthropologist, considers it most likely that the two pictures show the same person.[29]

It is believed that the student at the Gümligen International School may not have been Kim Jong-un, but his elder brother Kim Jong-chul. It is not known whether the student known as Pak-un in Liebefeld Steinhölzli lived in Switzerland prior to 1998.[30] All the children of Kim Jong-il are said to have lived in Switzerland, as well as the mother of the two youngest sons, who lived in Geneva for some time.[24]

Most analysts agree that Kim Jong-un attended Kim Il-sung University, a leading officer-training school in Pyongyang, from 2002 to 2007.[31]

For many years, only one confirmed photograph of him was known to exist outside North Korea, apparently taken in the mid-1990s, when he was eleven.[32] Occasionally other supposed images of him surfaced but were often disputed.[33] It was only in June 2010, shortly before he was given official posts and publicly introduced to the North Korean people, that more pictures were released of Kim, taken when he was attending school in Switzerland.[34] The first official image of him as an adult was a group photograph released on 30 September 2010, at the end of the party conference that effectively anointed him, in which he is seated in the front row, two places from his father. This was followed by newsreel footage of him attending the conference.[35]

In 2013, Kim Jong-un was awarded an honorary doctorate in Economics by HELP University, a private Malaysian university.[36]

Succession Edit

Pre-2010 Party Conference speculation Edit

Kim Jong-un's eldest half-brother, Kim Jong-nam, had been the favorite to succeed, but reportedly fell out of favor after 2001, when he was caught attempting to enter Japan on a fake passport to visit Tokyo Disneyland.[37] Kim Jong-nam was killed in Malaysia in 2017 by suspected North Korean agents.[38]

Kim Jong-il's former personal chef, Kenji Fujimoto, revealed details regarding Kim Jong-un, with whom he had a good relationship,[39] stating that he was favored to be his father's successor. Fujimoto also said that Jong-un was favored by his father over his elder brother, Kim Jong-chul, reasoning that Jong-chul is too feminine in character, while Jong-un is "exactly like his father".[40] Furthermore, Fujimoto stated that "If power is to be handed over then Jong-un is the best for it. He has superb physical gifts, is a big drinker and never admits defeat." Also, according to Fujimoto, Jong-un smokes Yves Saint Laurent cigarettes, loves Johnnie Walker whisky and has a Mercedes-Benz 600 luxury sedan.[41] When Jong-un was 18, Fujimoto described an episode where Jong-un once questioned his lavish lifestyle and asked, "We are here, playing basketball, riding horses, riding jet skis, having fun together. But what of the lives of the average people?"[40] On 15 January 2009 the South Korean news agency Yonhapreported that Kim Jong-il had appointed Kim Jong-un to be his successor.[37][42]

On 8 March 2009, BBC News reported that Kim Jong-un was on the ballot for elections to the Supreme People's Assembly, the rubber stamp parliament of North Korea.[43] Subsequent reports indicated that his name did not appear on the list of lawmakers,[44] but he was later elevated to a mid-level position in the National Defense Commission, which is a branch of the North Korean military.[45]

People paying homage[46] to the statues of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, April 2012

From 2009, it was understood by foreign diplomatic services that Kim was to succeed his father Kim Jong-il as the head of the Korean Workers' Party and de facto leader of North Korea.[47] He has been named "Yŏngmyŏng-han Tongji" (영명한 동지), which loosely translates to "Brilliant Comrade".[48] His father had also asked embassy staff abroad to pledge loyalty to his son.[49] There have also been reports that citizens in North Korea were encouraged to sing a newly composed "song of praise" to Kim Jong-un, in a similar fashion to that of praise songs relating to Kim Jong-il and Kim Il-sung.[50] Later, in June, Kim was reported to have visited China secretly to "present himself" to the Chinese leadership, who later warned against North Korea conducting another nuclear test.[51] The Chinese foreign ministry has strongly denied that this visit occurred.[52]

In September 2009, it was reported that Kim Jong-il had secured support for the succession plan, after a propaganda campaign.[53] It is believed by some that Kim Jong-un was involved in the Cheonan sinking[54] and the bombardment of Yeonpyeong[55] to strengthen his military credentials and facilitate a successful transition of power from his father.[56]

Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission Edit

Kim Jong-un was made a daejang, the equivalent of a four-star general in the United States,[57] on 27 September 2010, a day ahead of a rare Workers' Party of Korea conference in Pyongyang, the first time North Korean media had mentioned him by name and despite his having no previous military experience.[58] Despite the promotion, no further details, including verifiable portraits of Kim, were released.[59] On 28 September 2010, he was named vice chairman of the Central Military Commission and appointed to the Central Committee of the Workers' Party, in an apparent nod to become the successor to Kim Jong-il.[60]

On 10 October 2010, alongside his father, Kim Jong-un attended the ruling Workers' Party's 65th anniversary celebration. This was seen as confirming his position as the next leader of the Workers' Party. Unprecedented international press access was granted to the event, further indicating the importance of Kim Jong-un's presence.[61] In January 2011, the regime reportedly began purging around 200 protégés of both Jong-un's uncle-in-law Jang Song-thaek and O Kuk-ryol, the vice chairman of the National Defence Commission, by either detention or execution to further prevent either man from rivaling Jong-un.[62]

Ruler of North Korea Edit

On 17 December 2011, Kim Jong-il died. Despite the elder Kim's plans, it was not immediately clear after his death whether Jong-un would in fact take full power, and what his exact role in a new government would be.[63] Some analysts had predicted that when Kim Jong-il died, Jang Song-thaek would act as regent, as Jong-un was too inexperienced to immediately lead the country.[64][65]

Following his father's death, Kim Jong-un was hailed as the "great successor to the revolutionary cause of Juche", "outstanding leader of the party, army and people"[66] and "respected comrade who is identical to Supreme Commander Kim Jong-il",[67] and was made chairman of the Kim Jong-il funeral committee. The Korean Central News Agency described Kim Jong-un as "a great person born of heaven", a propaganda term only his father and grandfather had enjoyed.[68] And the ruling Workers' Party said in an editorial, "We vow with bleeding tears to call Kim Jong-un our supreme commander, our leader."[69]

He was publicly declared Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army on 24 December 2011[70] and formally appointed to the position on 30 December when the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party "courteously proclaimed that the dear respected Kim Jong Un, vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission of the WPK, assumed the supreme commandership of the Korean People's Army".[1]

North Korean soldiers saluting at the Revolutionary Martyrs' Cemetery in Pyongyang, 2012

On 26 December 2011, the leading North Korean newspaper Rodong Sinmun reported that Kim Jong-un had been acting as chairman of the Central Military Commission,[71] and supreme leader of the country, following his father's demise.[72]

On 9 January 2012, a large rally was held by Korean People's Army in front of Kumsusan Palace of the Sun to honor Kim Jong-un and demonstrate loyalty.[73]

In 2013, Forbes named Kim Jong-un the World's 46th Most Powerful Person.[74]

Assuming official titles Edit

On 27 March 2012, Kim was elected to the Fourth Conference of the Workers' Party of Korea. On 11 April, that conference elected him as leader of the party under the newly created title of First Secretary. This position replaced the post of general secretary, which was awarded "eternally" to Kim Jong-il. At the conference, Kim Jong-un also took his father's post as Chairman of the Central Military Commission, as well as his father's old seat on the Presidium of the Workers' Party of Korea.[75] In a speech made prior to the Conference, Kim Jong-un declared that "Imbuing the whole society with Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism is the highest programme of our Party". On 13 April 2012, the 5th Session of the 12th Supreme People's Assembly appointed Kim Jong-un Chairman of the National Defence Commission.

On 15 April 2012, during a military parade to commemorate Kim Il-sung's centenary, Kim Jong-un made his first public speech.[76] That speech became the basis of "Onwards Toward the Final Victory".[77]

In July 2012,[78] Kim Jong-un was promoted to wonsu (roughly translated to marshal), the highest active rank in the military. The decision was jointly issued on by the Central Committee and the Central Military Commission of the Workers' Party of Korea, the National Defence Commission, and the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, the Korean Central News Agencysubsequently announced.[10] The only higher rank is Dae Wonsu (roughly translated as Grand Marshal or Generalissimo) which was held by Kim's grandfather, Kim Il-sung, and which was awarded posthumously to his father, Kim Jong-il, in February 2012.[10][78] The promotion confirmed Kim's role as top leader of the North Korean military and came days after the replacement of Chief of General Staff Ri Yong-ho by Hyon Yong-chol.[10]

External image
Satellite imagery show the message "Long Live General Kim Jong-un, the Shining Sun!" in Korean on a hillside.

In November 2012, satellite photos revealed a half-kilometer-long (1,600 ft) propaganda message carved into a hillside in Ryanggang Province, reading, "Long Live General Kim Jong-un, the Shining Sun!".[79]

Kim Jong-il's personal chef Kenji Fujimoto stated, "Stores in Pyongyang were brimming with products and people in the streets looked cheerful. North Korea has changed a lot since Kim Jong-un assumed power. All of this is because of leader Kim Jong-un."[80]

Officially, Kim Jong-un is part of a triumvirate heading the executive branch of the North Korean government along with Premier Pak Pong-ju and parliament chairman Kim Yong-nam (no relation). Each nominally holds powers equivalent to a third of a president's powers in most other presidential systems. Kim Jong-un commands the armed forces, Pak Pong-ju heads the government, and Kim Yong-nam handles foreign relations. Nevertheless, it is generally understood that Kim Jong-un, like his father and grandfather before him, exercises absolute control over the government and the country. Indeed, a constitutional amendment enacted by his father explicitly named the NDC (first) chairman as "the supreme leader of the Democratic People's Republic of North Korea".[81]

On 30 November 2012, Kim met with Li Jianguo, who "briefed Kim on the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China", according to the state's official news agency, the Korean Central News Agency.[82] A letter from Xi Jinping was hand-delivered during the discussion.[82]

In 2013, Kim re-established his grandfather's style when he made his first New Year's address, a break from the approach of his father. Kim Jong-il never made televised addresses during his 17 years in power.[83] In lieu of delivering a speech, Kim Jong-il contributed to and approved a New Year's Day editorial, jointly published by Rodong Sinmun (the daily newspaper of the Korean Workers' Party), Joson Inmingun (the newspaper of the Korean People's Army), and Chongnyon Jonwi (the newspaper of the Kimilsungist-Kimjongilist Youth League).[84] At the extraordinary meeting with his top defense and security officials on 26 January 2013, Kim issued orders on preparations for a new nuclear test and introduced martial law in North Korea effective from 29 January.[85]

On 9 March 2014, Kim Jong-un was elected to a seat in the Supreme People's Assembly, the country's unicameral legislature. He ran unopposed, but voters had the choice of voting yes or no. There was a record turnout of voters and, according to government officials, all voted "yes" in his home district of Mount Paekdu.[86] The Supreme People's Assembly subsequently elected him first chairman of the National Defense Commission.[87]

People in Pyongyang watch Kim Jong-un on North Korean TV, 2015

In May 2014, following the collapse of an apartment building in Pyongyang, Kim Jong-un was said to be very upset at the loss of life that resulted. A statement issued by the country's official news agency the Korean Central News Agency used the rare expression "profound consolation and apology". An unnamed government official was quoted by the BBC as saying Kim Jong-un had "sat up all night, feeling painful".[88] While the height of the building and the number of casualties was not released, media reports described it is a 23-story building and indicated that more than a hundred people may have died in the collapse.[89]

Economic policies Edit

In August 2012, Kim Jong-un announced economics reforms similar to China's.[90] Kim began to be mentioned by the North Korean state media as "supreme leader" (chego ryongdoja) at this time.

A set of comprehensive economic measures, the "Socialist Corporate Responsible Management System", were introduced in 2013.[91] The measures increase the autonomy of enterprises by granting them "certain rights to engage in business activities autonomously and elevate the will to labor through appropriately implementing the socialist distribution system". Another priority of economic policies that year was agriculture, where the pojon (vegetable garden) responsibility system was implemented. The system reportedly achieved a major increase in output in some collective farms.[91]

North Korean media were describing the economy as a "flexible collectivist system" where enterprises were applying "active and evolutionary actions" to achieve economic development.[92]These reports reflect Kim's general economic policy of reforming management, increasing the autonomy and incentives for economic actors. This set of reforms known as the "May 30th measures" reaffirms both socialist ownership and "objective economic laws in guidance and management" to improve living standards. Other objectives of the measures are to increase the availability of domestically manufactured goods on markets, introduction of defence innovations into the civilian sector and boost international trade.[92]

Nuclear weapons Edit

See also: North Korea and weapons of mass destruction

Model of a Unha-9 rocket on display at a floral exhibition in Pyongyang, 30 August 2013

Under Kim Jong-un, North Korea has continued to develop nuclear weapons. At a plenary meeting of the WPK Central Committee held on 31 March 2013, Kim Jong-un announced that North Korea will adopt "a new strategic line on carrying out economic construction and building nuclear armed forces simultaneously".[93] According to several analysts, North Korea sees the nuclear arsenal as vital to deter an attack, and it is unlikely that North Korea would launch a nuclear war.[94] According to a RAND Corporation senior researcher, Kim Jong-un believes that nuclear weapons are his guarantee of regime survival.[95] During the 7th Congress of the Workers' Party of Korea in 2016, Kim Jong-un stated that North Korea would "not use nuclear weapons first unless aggressive hostile forces use nuclear weapons to invade on our sovereignty".[96] However, on other occasions, North Korea has threatened "pre-emptive" nuclear attacks against a US-led attack.[97]

North Korea probably does possess a dozen or so nuclear bombs.[98] However, there is no consensus on whether it has acquired intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) with nuclear warheads, capable of reaching the United States.[99] It is estimated that North Korea will have sixty nuclear warheads by 2020.[100] North Korea has rockets strong enough to power ICBMs, and, according to the US Defense Intelligence Agency, has nuclear warheads miniaturized enough to be delivered by ICBM,[101] but, according to the South Korean defense department, the ICBMs would not be able to re-enter the atmosphere intact.[102] If North Korea has sufficient nuclear warhead miniaturization technology, its Rodong-1 medium-range missiles could probably launch nuclear strikes as far as Japan.[103]

In December 2015, in a release from the official Korean Central News Agency, Kim announced that his country had developed a hydrogen bomb. Kim's claim is considered unlikely.[104] Kim stated that his family "turned the DPRK into a powerful nuclear weapons state ready to detonate a self-reliant A-bomb and H-bomb to reliably defend its sovereignty and the dignity of the nation".[105]

As of 2016, the United Nations has enacted five cumulative rounds of sanctions against North Korea for its nuclear program and missile tests.[106]

Purges and executions Edit

Further information: List of officials purged and executed by Kim Jong-un

As with all reporting on North Korea, reports of purges and executions are difficult to verify.[107] In May 2016, analysts were surprised to find that General Ri Yong-gil, reported by South Korea to have been executed earlier in the year, was, in fact, alive and well.[108]

In December 2013, Kim Jong-un's uncle Jang Song-thaek was arrested and executed for treachery.[109] Jang is believed to have been executed by firing squad. Yonhap has stated that, according to multiple unnamed sources, Kim Jong-un has also put to death members of Jang's family, to completely destroy all traces of Jang's existence through "extensive executions" of his family, including the children and grandchildren of all close relatives. Those reportedly killed in Kim's purge include Jang's sister Jang Kye-sun, her husband and ambassador to Cuba, Jon Yong-jin, and Jang's nephew and ambassador to Malaysia, Jang Yong-chol. The nephew's two sons were also said to have been killed.[110] At the time of Jang's removal, it was announced that "the discovery and purge of the Jang group ... made our party and revolutionary ranks purer ..."[111] and after his execution on 12 December 2013 state media warned that the army "will never pardon all those who disobey the order of the Supreme Commander".[112]

O Sang-hon (Chosŏn'gŭl: 오상헌; RR: O Sangheon; MR: O Sanghŏn) was a deputy security minister in the Ministry of People's Security in the government of North Korea who was reportedly killed in a political purge in 2014. According to the Korean newspaper The Chosun Ilbo, O was executed by flamethrower for his role in supporting Kim Jong-un's uncle Jang Song-taek.[113]

Human rights violations Edit

See also: Human rights in North Korea

Human rights violations under the leadership of Kim Jong-il were condemned by the UN General Assembly.[114] Press reports indicate that they are continuing under Kim Jong-un.[115]

The 2013 report on the situation of human rights in North Korea[116] by United Nations Special Rapporteur Marzuki Darusman proposed a United Nations commission of inquiry[117] to document the accountability of Kim Jong-un and other individuals in the North Korean government for alleged crimes against humanity.[118] The report of the commission of inquiry[119] was published in February 2014 and recommends making him accountable for crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court.[120]

In July 2016, the United States Department of the Treasury imposed personal sanctions on Kim. Although his involvement in human rights abuses was cited as the reason,[121] officials said the sanctions target the country's nuclear and missile programs.[122]

Alleged 2017 CIA assassination attempt Edit

In May 2017, the North Korean government stated that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States and the South Korean National Intelligence Service (NIS) hired a North Korean lumberjack who worked in Russia to assassinate Kim Jong-un with a "biochemical weapon" that was both radioactive and nano-poisonous, and whose effect would have been delayed by a few months.[123] North Korea said that it would seek extradition of anyone involved in the assassination attempt.[124]

Personality Edit

Kenji Fujimoto, a Japanese chef who used to work as Kim Jong-il's personal cook, described Kim Jong-un as "a chip off the old block, a spitting image of his father in terms of face, body shape, and personality".[125]

The Washington Post reported in 2009 that Kim Jong-un's school friends recalled he "spent hours doing meticulous pencil drawings of Chicago Bulls superstar Michael Jordan".[126] He was obsessed with basketball and computer games.[27][127] On 26 February 2013, Kim Jong‑un met Dennis Rodman,[128] leading many reporters to speculate that Rodman was the first American that Kim had met.[129] Rodman described his trip to Kim Jong-un's private island, "It's like Hawaii or Ibiza, but he's the only one that lives there."[130] Kim Jong-un’s net worth is estimated at US$5 billion.[131]

In July 2012, Kim Jong-un showed a change in cultural policy from his father by attending a Moranbong Band concert. The concert contained several elements of pop culture from the West, particularly the United States. Kim used this event to debut his wife to the public, an unprecedented move in North Korea.[132]

According to diplomatic sources, "Kim Jong-un likes to drink and party all night like his father and ordered the [imported sauna] equipment to help him beat hangovers and fatigue."[133] Kim Jong-un is reportedly recruiting young, female companions to form a “pleasure troupe” to entertain him.[134]

During Dennis Rodman's trip, Vice magazine correspondent Ryan Duffy observed that "the leader was 'socially awkward' and didn't make eye contact when shaking hands".[135]

According to Cheong Seong-chang of the Sejong Institute, Kim Jong-un has greater visible interest in the welfare of his people and engages in greater interaction with them than his father did.[136]

Health Edit

In 2009, reports suggested that Kim Jong-un was a diabetic and suffered from hypertension.[49][137] He is also known to smoke cigarettes.[138]

Kim Jong-un did not appear in public for six weeks in September and October 2014. State media reported that he was suffering from an "uncomfortable physical condition". Previously he had been seen limping.[139] When he reappeared, he was using a walking stick.[140]

In September 2015, the South Korean government commented that Kim appeared to have gained 30 kg in body fat over the previous five years, reaching a total estimated body weight of 130 kg (290 lb).[141]

Family Edit

Portraits of Kim Jong-un's father and grandfather (Arirang Festival mass games in Pyongyang)

On 25 July 2012, North Korean state media reported for the first time that Kim Jong-un is married to Ri Sol-ju (리설주).[142][143] Ri, who appears to be in her early 20s, had been accompanying Kim Jong-un to public appearances for several weeks prior to the announcement.[143] According to a South Korean analyst, Kim Jong-il had hastily arranged the marriage after suffering a stroke in 2008, the two married in 2009, and they had a child in 2010.[144]Dennis Rodman, after visiting in 2013, reported that they had a daughter named Ju-ae.[145][146] However, South Korean sources speculated that they could have many children.[147]

Kim is sometimes accompanied by his younger sister Kim Yo-jong,[17][18] who is said to be instrumental in creating his public image and organising public events for him.[148]

On 13 February 2017, Kim Jong-nam, the exiled half-brother of Kim Jong-un, was assassinated with the nerve agent VX while walking through Terminal 2 at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.[149]

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