5 First Ladies Who Steal the Show From Their Husbands


The wife of China’s new president Xi Jinping, Peng Liyuang, has been the talk of the international media since pictures of her went viral over the weekend. Her understated fashion sense has made her an overnight style icon in her home country. In her honor, here are five other first ladies around the world who also make headlines. 

1. Queen Rania Al Abdullah, Jordan

Since her husband King Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein was crowned in 1999, Queen Rania has become a media presence in her own right. She maintains a personal website with regularly updated content on her activities, posts a video blog on YouTube, and tweets @QueenRania (Her Twitter bio: "A mum and a wife with a really cool day job"). Queen Rania uses her platform to advocate both domestically and internationally on education, community empowerment and cross-cultural understanding. Among her many titles, she is the Honorary Global Chair of the United Nations’ Girls Education Initiative and an Eminent Advocate for UNICEF. She also started the Jordan River Foundation, an NGO that fights poverty in Jordan.

2. Chantal Biya, Cameroon 

The wife of Cameroon's president Paul Biya has received international acclaim for her sense of fashion and distinct hairstyles. BuzzFeed did a 2010 profile on the latter, "The 18 Most Amazing Pictures of Chantal Biya’s Hair," including the above photo.

New York Magazine calls her "A First Lady You Should Know About" and says of her fashion choices: "She is so diva-fierce we can hardly stand it." On Monday, PolicyMic pundit Anaam Butt named Biya one of the five most fashionable first ladies around the world.

3. Dorrit Moussaieff, Iceland

Moussaieff made headlines in 2011 for climbing a security fence to join anti government protests against prominent politicians, including her husband, president of Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson. The government’s handling of the 2008 financial crisis, which had a devastating impact on Iceland, led to widespread public frustration with the economy. Moussaieff’s brief show of solidarity "earned her a lot of admiration amongst the public," although it did not prevent her husband and his colleagues from being pelted with eggs and yogurt by the protesters.

4. Her Highness Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser, Qatar

Sheikha Mozah may only be the second wife of the Emir of Qatar, but she has become well-known worldwide for her efforts to modernize Qatar. She chairs the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, which is behind such prominent projects as Education City, which hosts campuses for prominent international universities such as Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service. She has also been involved in regional modernization and education efforts, including providing scholarships to Israeli Arab students.

5. Angélica Rivera, Mexico 

Even before her marriage to then-governor of the State of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto,  Angélica Rivera was "one of the country's most popular actresses." She became famous for her roles in soap operas and a musical collaboration with singer Ricky Martin. A Voxxi article compares her popularity and style favorably to FLOTUS Michelle Obama, pointing out that Rivera used her personal popularity to engage with voters through social media during her husband’s 2012 campaign.