The Earth King is the sovereign of Ba Sing Se and the ruler of the Earth Kingdom. Viewed as gods by their subjects, there were 52 Earth Kings until Ba Sing Se fell to the Fire Nation. The Earth King's palace and seat of government reside in the Upper Ring of Ba Sing Se.
Traditionally, the Earth King leaves behind all personal possessions upon ascending the throne, including his given name, and is henceforth known only as "Your Majesty" or through his reign number. This enhances the appearance as a figurehead, though the citizens of Ba Sing Se do not seem to care. It may even be possible that if citizens were to uncover the truth of his authority, revolts would begin as they did before the Dai Li were trained by Avatar Kyoshi. After the War, the Earth King's identity was publically announced.
Earth Kingdom law states that the King of Ba Sing Se shall have power over the entire Earth Kingdom and shall be styled 'The Earth King'. After unifying the Earth Kingdom through conquest, the Kings of Ba Sing Se consolidated their power into the walled city. Eventually the city came to be considered impenetrable, so much that the warlord Chin the Great, in his bid for control of the country, decided he would rather face the Avatar than the walled city. Though early Earth Kings controlled their lands personally, often using brutal means to crush rebellion, over time the monarchy became stagnant and corrupt, as kings ceded more and more power to the Byzantine system of government and bureaucracy which sprang up around them, choosing to spend more time surrounded by courtesans and sycophants than taking an interest in the affairs of state.
By the time Earth King Kuei ascended to the throne, the position had declined to that of a figurehead, allowing Long Feng, Kuei's regent and later adviser, to take control of the city. Many of the Earth King's domains, such as Omashu, gradually slipped back into the positions of city-states over time, and paid little attention to the Earth King's few decrees, therefore creating a strong confederation with the military and the Kingdom's name as the main political ties between each realm. When the Fire Nation took the city, the position was abolished, sending Earth King Kuei into exile and leaving Joo Dee as a puppet ruler with the title of "Supreme Bureaucratic Administrator of Ba Sing Se". Bumi, the King of Omashu, was given the throne after the War ended, as Kuei was never found..
The Earth King traditionally made use of sixty-seven different seals, used depending on the occasion, season, and document in question.
Known Earth Kings
- Yi Ming
- 46th Earth King - c. 370 BG
- Kuei - c. 80 - 100 AG
- Ozai, as Ruler of Ba Sing Se, and Joo Dee, as Supreme Bureaucratic Administrator - c. 100 AG
- Bumi - 100 AG - current