Many of the world's most influential figures are indeed metalheads and rock enthusiasts. Although politics and extreme music can often create a recipe for disaster, this pairing has actually worked quite well for certain individuals. For example, Junichiro Koizumi, Japan's former prime minister, is a big fan of the rock/metal band X Japan. Japanese politician Sanae Takaichi, who hoped to become the country's first female prime minister, used play drums in a metal band. She currently serves as the Minister of State for Economic Security. The late French MP Patrick Roy was yet another lover of heavy metal, which he used his clout to defend.
As we discuss headbangers in positions of power, our aim will not be to endorse anyone's political beliefs. This article features many possible heroes, some diabolical characters, and others who probably fall somewhere in between. Which of the following names on our list of politicians, noblemen, and royals who know how to rock will challenge your preconceptions?!
Crown Prince Haakon
Mayhem's Necrobutcher was not shy to admit that Haakon Magnus, Crown Prince of Norway, is a fan of his band! In 2020, Crown Prince Haakon opened the exhibition "Opplyst," or "Enlightened," at The National Library of Norway. This permanent exhibition features Darkthrone's A Blaze in the Northern Sky (1992), by the way. In 2013, Haakon Magnus and his wife, Princess Mette-Marit, attended a Kvelertak concert in San Francisco. There, Crown Prince Haakon met the group, Metallica's James Hetfield, and Machine Head's Robb Flynn. Kjell Arne Totland from TV 2 stated that he believed that it was probably a bigger deal for Crown Prince Haakon to meet Mr. Hetfield than the other way around. What captivates our interest most, however, is that Crown Prince Haakon performed with the impossibly cool Norwegian legends Seigmen during his 40th birthday festivities! In his younger years, Crown Prince Haakon sparked much talk due to his attendance at music events. He actually met Mette-Marit at the Quart Festival in Kristiansand in 1996. Although the Quart Festival is sadly a thing of the past, it showcased top-notch acts like Rammstein and Immortal. It was also the home to a few serious scandals.
In 2016, Darkthrone's Fenriz was famously elected to serve as a local councilman after posting a picture with his cat. Fenriz urged citizens: "Ikke stem på meg. Jeg må passe på vennen min, Tom!" / "Don't vote for me. I have to take care of my friend, Tom." The music legend told Aftenposten what can be thus translated: "I have no time or desire to go to meetings. I am uncomfortable with that. I listen to between 900 and 1,000 promos in a year. There you have me." Now, that's a man who has his priorities in order! Everyone seemed to love this unintentionally heartwarming story, which prompted international headlines like the following from NME: "The Larry David of Black Metal Has Accidentally Become a Local Councillor." Although this all sounds rather comical, Fenriz fit right in during his time as a politician. Apparently, Norwegian diplomats are taught about black metal in order to meet the demands of their jobs. There's hardly a man who can educate others about metal better than Professor Fenriz.
Randal Plunkett, 21st Baron of Dunsany
Randal Plunkett has been referred to by The Guardian as the "death metal Irish baron." Yet, Randal's love for music extends far beyond death metal. The artists he enjoys include Pantera's Phil Anselmo, Crowbar, Slayer, Burzum, Bathory, Leviathan, Xasthur, Forgotten Tomb, Venom, Iron Maiden, etc. Randal has been photographed sporting T-shirts for the likes of Cannibal Corpse and Darkthrone's Transilvian Hunger (1994). Would it be rude if we asked how this is compatible with his vegan lifestyle?!
Randal, who was actually born in New York, is known as a renaissance man. He works as a filmmaker and has made a project of rewilding his 1,600-acre property, Dunsany Estate, in Ireland. Since Lamb of God's Randy Blythe is also passionate about rewilding (He released a short documentary on the topic last year.), we suggest that the two of them join forces.
This might not be such a "metal" picture of the baron as a teen, but it is definitely a rebellious one —
The Insane Mr. Vladimir Zhirinovsky (R.I.P.)
Again, we're not here to discuss politics. Thus, do not misunderstand us when we say that if you thought that Donald Trump was outrageous, the late Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, was beyond what you ever could have imagined. More than once, this many-time presidential hopeful made a splash by throwing water and juice on his fellow politicians. Yet, it was this vodka peddler (Yes, Zhirinovsky believed that cheap booze was the key to victory!) who had fluids thrown his way when he called "Russia's Paris Hilton," Ksenia Sobchak, a "prostitute" among other endearing names during a televised debate.
It is hard to say how much this epic troll and rebel genuinely liked great music, as opposed to grand acts of attention-wh*redom. Yet, the facts remain. In the translated words of RIA Novosti: "In 1993, in accordance with the initiative of the Liberal Democratic Party, in Moscow 'The Rock Store of Zhirinovsky' was opened in Moscow." Zhirinovsky can be seen in a photo holding a Sex Pistols shirt while others by bands like Slayer, Metallica, and Sepultura hang in the background. Zhirinovsky really confused us when he appeared in a '90s Liberal Democratic Party ad wearing a shirt for a Russian band named Hellraiser. The Russian equivalent of the following phrase was printed underneath the photograph: "I am the same as you." In case you are wondering, yes, Mr. Zhirinovsky actually existed, and he did have followers.
Sanna Marin, Finland's Prime Minister
The 37-year-old Sanna Marin has been Finland's Prime Minister since 2019. We've seen that Sanna loves to party through leaked footage and the like. The Finnish PM has confessed her love for Rage Against the Machine. Last year, she was spotted in a leather jacket and leg-baring shorts at Ruisrock, a festival in Turku. In 2021, she briefly spoke with Jussi 69 from The 69 Eyes regarding Covid restrictions. We know that Jussi's bandmate Jyrki 69, who has a master's degree, was a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and has done much to help others. Nevertheless, the strange optics of this meeting with rock royalty took us aback.
You might remember Jedrzej Wijas as the Polish councilman who made headlines in 2011 with his death metal campaign commercial in support of his run for parliament. The brief song, "Konkretny Przekaz," translates as "Concrete Message." The words mean: "End of stiff talks. End of stupid wars. Secular contrary… Freedom! That's my aim…" Wijas told Cafébabel:
"I'm talking about the people who are incongruous on the streets just because they wear black or distinguish themselves by their appearance. It's for the people who are judged, particularly by the hierarchy of the church. I know this environment, I'm a fan of that sound, I go to rock concerts and I know that you can meet all sorts of people there. This song is a nod in their direction."
Wijas also provided lyrics for a 1996 promo tape by a band called Undertaker. We wouldn't mind hearing more from this charismatic individual!
The British Politicians Who Asked Queen Elizabeth II to Honor Black Sabbath
We are so disappointed that the request from British Members of Parliament for the now late Queen Elizabeth II to recognize Black Sabbath went unfulfilled. Yes, this summer, Birmingham Labour Party MP Khalid Mahmood wrote a letter that was signed by seven other politicians. Here's an excerpt:
"We therefore seek direct intervention and support from Your Majesty to recognise the great contribution made by these fine and ground-breaking musicians, who were made in Birmingham and who have once again not just entertained Birmingham, the United Kingdom and the whole of the Commonwealth but perhaps the world."
Birmingham has already paid tribute to Black Sabbath by naming a bridge in the group's honor and installing a special, now famous bench with etchings of the members' faces and signatures. The public recently chose to name the mechanical bull sculpture that was used at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games after Mr. Ozzy Osbourne. The bull, which is 33-feet tall has already arrived at its permanent place of honor: Birmingham's New Street station.
Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, Indonesia's Current President
Mr. Widodo loves Anthrax, Led Zeppelin, Metallica, Napalm Death, Linkin Park, Judas Priest, and Guns N' Roses among others. In 2013, Widodo received a bass from Metallica's Robert Trujillo as a gift. Unfortunately, however, it was confiscated by the government. When Widodo was first elected in 2014, Lamb of God's Randy Blythe took to social media to congratulate him: "Incredibly, ladies & gentlemen, the new President of Indonesia is a metal head AND a lamb of god fan. … holy crap! THE WORLD'S FIRST HEAVY METAL PRESIDENT!" Yet, Mr. Widodo would anger many former supporters when he ignored pleas by the likes of Tony Iommi and Napalm Death's Barney Greenway to spare the lives of two Australian drug smugglers.
Surprisingly, Widodo is not Indonesia's only politician with great taste in music. Ganjar Pranowo, the governor of Java and presidential hopeful for the 2024 election, is also a fan of rock and metal. Megadeth invited Pranowo and Widodo to a concert back in 2018. Pranowo has been seen at a Dream Theater show.
Gabriel Boric, Chile's Current President
Gabriel Boric has been spotted donning rock and metal gear. He is a fan of Deftones, Nine Inch Nails, Metallica, Rammstein, Soundgarden, Offspring, Pearl Jam, Korn, Faith No More, Nirvana, etc. Boric told Radio Los 40, that "Aenema" is his favorite Tool track. Don't get too excited about this guy's taste in music though. The Chilean president also enjoys Taylor Swift and K-pop.
Richard Burgon, Member of Parliament of the United Kingdom
Richard Burgon is a Member of Parliament for Leeds East, The former Shadow Justice Secretary listens to bands like Sleep, Iron Maiden, Electric Wizard, Amon Amarth, and Motörhead. He revealed to Metal Hammer: "One of my friends used to play violin for My Dying Bride, and my former housemate is in the black metal band Forest of Stars." Impressive! Yet, Burgon's status as a metaller backfired when his decision to sing on a track with his friends from the group Dream Tröll led to ludicrous accusations of Nazi sympathies in 2017. Thankfully, Burgon won a libel case against The Sun.
Chthonic's Freddy Lim
Most metalheads know of the inventive Taiwanese outfit Chthonic. The group's frontman, Freddy Lim, also founded a band called Metal Clone X with ex-Megadeth's Marty Friedman. Who would think that such a talented artist would also have the skills to serve as an activist and politician?! From 2010-2014, Lim led Amnesty International Taiwan. Lim helped found the New Power Party, which he has since left. He is currently serving his second term as a member of the Legislative Yuan.
Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex
In 2014, Prince Harry's friend, actor Dominic West, told the Daily Star: "Harry has a terrible selection on his iPod. It is the sort of thing that soldiers listen to. Hardcore thrash metal." The polarizing South Park character is allegedly fond of Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, Anthrax, Power Trip, and Municipal Waste. Based on this evidence, we are convinced that it is in fact Mr. West who has terrible taste in music.
In Tony Iommi's autobiography, Iron Man: My Journey Through Heaven and Hell with Black Sabbath (2011), he recalled meeting the royal family, including England's current king, after Black Sabbath performed at Buckingham Palace for Queen Elizabeth II's Golden Jubilee in 2002. He wrote: "… the two young princes, William and Harry, came over and said to me: 'Why didn't you play "Black Sabbath"?' I said: 'I don’t think that would have gone down that well."'
As part of the festivities, Tony also met England's then Prime Minister Toni Blair, who we can add to our list: "Toni Blair spotted me and came over: 'Tony! Tony!' 'Eh?' I’d never met him in my life. It was unreal to have the prime minister come over to me like he'd known me for years. He said: 'I'm a big fan. I’ve got all the early albums!"'