Ranavalona III – the last queen of the Kingdom of Madagascar


Ranavalona III was the last sovereign of the Kingdom of Madagascar. She ruled over Madagascar from July 30, 1883, to February 28, 1897. In a reign marked by futile efforts to resist the colonial designs of the government of France, she was the Last Queen.

As a young woman, she was selected from among several Andriana qualified to succeed Queen Ranavalona II upon her death. Like the queens before her, Ranavalona III entered a political marriage with a member of the Hova elite named Rainilaiarivony. He was the Prime minister at the time. Rainilaiarivony largely oversaw the day-to-day governance of the kingdom and managed its foreign affairs.


Ranavalona III tried to avoid colonization by strengthening trade and diplomatic relations with foreign powers during her reign. However, French attacks on coastal port towns and an assault on the capital city of Antananarivo led to the capture of the royal palace in 1895. Ending the sovereignty and political autonomy of the century-old kingdom.

Subsequently, Ranavalona and her court were initially permitted to remain as symbolic figureheads. But, the discovery of anti-French political intrigues at court led the French to exile her to the island of Réunion in 1897. That, and the outbreak of a popular resistance movement called the ‘Menalamba‘ rebellion.

The Death Of Ranavalona III.

Rainilaiarivony died that same year and Ranavalona was relocated to a villa in Algiers, along with several members of her family. The queen, her family, and the servants accompanying her were provided an allowance and enjoyed a comfortable standard of living. Not forgetting the occasional trips to Paris for shopping and sightseeing.

Ranavalona III

However, Ranavalona III was never permitted to return home to Madagascar – despite her repeated requests. She died in her villa of an embolism in Algiers in 1917 at age 55. Her remains were buried in Algiers but were disinterred 21 years later and shipped to Madagascar. It was placed within the tomb of Queen Rasoherina on the grounds of the Rova of Antananarivo.


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