. In some cases, the monarch is elected. These exceptions make it difficult to define "monarchy" precisely; the most objective and comprehensive (albeit circular) definition would seem to be that a monarchy is a government that calls itself a monarchy.
Royalty is a Government in which the attention of the nation is concentrated on one person doing interesting actions. A Republic is a Government in which that attention is divided between many, who are all doing uninteresting things.
Americans also seem to believe that the monarchy is a kind of mediaeval hangover, encumbered by premodern notions of decorum; the reality is that the British monarchy, for good or ill, is a modern political institution — perhaps the first modern political institution.
A monarch's neck should always have a noose around it. It keeps him upright.
The monarchy is a political referee, not a political player, and there is a lot of sense in choosing the referee by a different principle from the players. It lessens the danger that the referee might try to start playing.
. In some cases, the monarch is elected. These exceptions make it difficult to define "monarchy" precisely; the most objective and comprehensive (albeit circular) definition would seem to be that a monarchy is a government that calls itself a monarchy. The monarch often bears the title king or queen. However, emperors/empresses, grand dukes/grand duchesses, princes/princesses and other ranks, are or have been used to designate monarchs. As explained below, the word monarch means 'single ruler', but cultural and historical considerations would appear to exclude presidents and other heads of state. Historically, the notion of monarchy may emerge under different circumstances. It may grow out of tribal kingship, and royal priesthood
and the office of monarch (kings) becoming typically hereditary, resulting in successive
dynasties or "houses", especially when the leader is wise and able enough to lead. It may also be a consequent emergence after an act of violence is committed upon local communities by an invading group, which usurps the communities' rights over traditions. The leader of the usurping group often establishes himself as a monarch
. A state of monarchy is said to result that reveals the relationships between resources, communities, monarch
and his office.
Even in antiquity, the strict hereditary succession
could be tempered by systems of elective monarchy
, where an assembly elects a new monarch out of a pool of eligible candidates.
This concept has also been modernized, and constitutional monarchies where the title of monarch remains mostly ceremonial, without, or with very limited political power.
Currently, 44 sovereign nations in the world have monarchs acting as heads of state, 16 of which are Commonwealth realm
s that recognize Queen Elizabeth II as their head of state. The historical form of absolute monarchy
is retained only in Brunei
, Saudi Arabia
, and Vatican City
EtymologyThe word monarch comes from the Greek
monàrches, μονάρχης (from mònos, μόνος, "one/singular," and àrchon, ἄρχων, "leader/ruler/chief") which referred to a single, at least nominally absolute ruler. In current usage the word monarchy generally refers to a traditional system of hereditary rule, as elective monarchies are rare in the modern period.
HistoryTribal kingship is often connected to sacral
functions, so that the king acts as a priest, or is considered of divine ancestry
. The sacral function of kingship was transformed into the notion of "divine right of kings
" in the Christian Middle Ages, while the Chinese, Japanese and Nepalese monarchs continued to be considered living gods into the modern period.
The system of monarchy since antiquity has contrasted with forms of parliamentarianism, where executive power is wielded by assemblies of free citizens. In antiquity, monarchies were abolished
in favour of such assemblies in Ancient Rome
, 509 BC), Ancient Athens (Athenian democracy
, 500 BC).
In Germanic antiquity, kingship was primarily a sacral function, and the king was elected from among eligible members of royal families by the thing
Such ancient "parliamentarism" declined during the European Middle Ages, but it survived in forms of regional assemblies, such as the Icelandic Commonwealth
, the Swiss Landsgemeinde
and later Tagsatzung
, and the High Medieval communal movement
linked to the rise of medieval town privileges
The modern resurgence of parliamentarism and anti-monarchism begins with the overthrow of the English monarchy by the Parliament of England
in 1649, followed by American Revolution
of 1776 and the French Revolution
of 1792. Much of 19th century politics was characterized by the division between anti-monarchist Radicalism
and monarchist Conservativism.
Many countries abolished the monarchy
in the 20th century and became republic
s, especially in the wake of either World War I
or World War II
Advocacy of republics is called republicanism
, while advocacy of monarchies is called monarchism
Characteristics and role
, in which monarchs rule for life (although some monarchs do not hold lifetime positions, such as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong
of Malaysia, who serves a five-year term) and pass the responsibilities and power of the position to their children or family when they die. Most monarchs, both historically and in the modern day, have been born and brought up within a royal family
, the center of the royal household
. Growing up in a royal family (when present for several generation
s it may be called a dynasty
), and future monarch
s were often trained for the responsibilities of expected future rule.
Different systems of succession
have been used, such as proximity of blood
, and agnatic seniority
). While traditionally most modern monarchs have been male, many female monarchs also have ruled in history; the term queen regnant
may refer to a ruling monarch, while a queen consort
may refer to the wife of a reigning king. Form of governments may be hereditary without being considered monarchies, such as that of family dictatorship
s or political families in many democracies
The principal advantage of hereditary monarchy is the immediate continuity of leadership, usually with a short interregnum
(as seen in the classic phrase "The King is dead. Long live the King!
Some monarchies are non-hereditary. In an elective monarchy
, monarchs are elected
, or appointed by some body (an electoral college
) for life or a defined period, but otherwise serve as any other monarch. Three elective monarchies exist today, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates
are twentieth-century creations, while one (the papacy
) is ancient.
A self-proclaimed monarchy
is established when a person claims the monarchy without any historical ties to a previous dynasty. Napoleon I of France
declared himself Emperor of the French and ruled the First French Empire
after previously calling himself First Consul following his seizure of power in the coup of 18 Brumaire
. Jean-Bédel Bokassa
of the Central African Republic
declared himself "Emperor" of the Central African Empire
. Yuan Shikai
crowned himself Emperor of the short-lived "Empire of China" a few years after the Republic of China
Powers of monarchToday, the extent of a monarch's powers varies:
- In an absolute monarchyAbsolute monarchyAbsolute monarchy is a monarchical form of government in which the monarch exercises ultimate governing authority as head of state and head of government, his or her power not being limited by a constitution or by the law. An absolute monarch thus wields unrestricted political power over the...
, the monarch rules as an autocratAutocracyAn autocracy is a form of government in which one person is the supreme power within the state. It is derived from the Greek : and , and may be translated as "one who rules by himself". It is distinct from oligarchy and democracy...
, with absolute power over the state and government—for example, the right to rule by decreeRule by decreeRule by decree is a style of governance allowing quick, unchallenged creation of law by a single person or group, and is used primarily by dictators and absolute monarchs, although philosophers such as Giorgio Agamben have argued that it has been generalized since World War I in all modern states,...
, promulgate lawLawLaw is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...
s, and impose punishmentPunishmentPunishment is the authoritative imposition of something negative or unpleasant on a person or animal in response to behavior deemed wrong by an individual or group....
s. Absolute monarchies are not necessarily authoritarianAuthoritarianismAuthoritarianism is a form of social organization characterized by submission to authority. It is usually opposed to individualism and democracy...
; the enlightened absolutistsEnlightened absolutismEnlightened absolutism is a form of absolute monarchy or despotism in which rulers were influenced by the Enlightenment. Enlightened monarchs embraced the principles of the Enlightenment, especially its emphasis upon rationality, and applied them to their territories...
of the Age of EnlightenmentAge of EnlightenmentThe Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...
were monarchs who allowed various freedoms.
- In a constitutional monarchyConstitutional monarchyConstitutional monarchy is a form of government in which a monarch acts as head of state within the parameters of a constitution, whether it be a written, uncodified or blended constitution...
the monarch is subject to a constitutionConstitutionA constitution is a set of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is governed. These rules together make up, i.e. constitute, what the entity is...
. The monarch serves as a ceremonial figureheadFigureheadA figurehead is a carved wooden decoration found at the prow of ships largely made between the 16th and 19th century.-History:Although earlier ships had often had some form of bow ornamentation A figurehead is a carved wooden decoration found at the prow of ships largely made between the 16th and...
symbolSymbolA symbol is something which represents an idea, a physical entity or a process but is distinct from it. The purpose of a symbol is to communicate meaning. For example, a red octagon may be a symbol for "STOP". On a map, a picture of a tent might represent a campsite. Numerals are symbols for...
of national unity and state continuity. The monarch is nominally sovereignSovereigntySovereignty is the quality of having supreme, independent authority over a geographic area, such as a territory. It can be found in a power to rule and make law that rests on a political fact for which no purely legal explanation can be provided...
but the electorate, through their parliamentParliamentA parliament is a legislature, especially in those countries whose system of government is based on the Westminster system modeled after that of the United Kingdom. The name is derived from the French , the action of parler : a parlement is a discussion. The term came to mean a meeting at which...
/legislatureLegislatureA legislature is a kind of deliberative assembly with the power to pass, amend, and repeal laws. The law created by a legislature is called legislation or statutory law. In addition to enacting laws, legislatures usually have exclusive authority to raise or lower taxes and adopt the budget and...
, exercise political sovereignty. Constitutional monarchs have limited political powerPolitical powerPolitical power is a type of power held by a group in a society which allows administration of some or all of public resources, including labour, and wealth. There are many ways to obtain possession of such power. At the nation-state level political legitimacy for political power is held by the...
, except in Japan, where the constitution grants no power to the Emperor. Typical monarchical powers include granting pardonPardonClemency means the forgiveness of a crime or the cancellation of the penalty associated with it. It is a general concept that encompasses several related procedures: pardoning, commutation, remission and reprieves...
s, granting honours, and reserve powerReserve powerIn a parliamentary or semi-presidential system of government, a reserve power is a power that may be exercised by the head of state without the approval of another branch of the government. Unlike a presidential system of government, the head of state is generally constrained by the cabinet or the...
s, e.g. to dismiss the prime ministerPrime ministerA prime minister is the most senior minister of cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system. In many systems, the prime minister selects and may dismiss other members of the cabinet, and allocates posts to members within the government. In most systems, the prime...
, refuse to dissolve parliament, or vetoVetoA veto, Latin for "I forbid", is the power of an officer of the state to unilaterally stop an official action, especially enactment of a piece of legislation...
legislation ("withhold Royal AssentRoyal AssentThe granting of royal assent refers to the method by which any constitutional monarch formally approves and promulgates an act of his or her nation's parliament, thus making it a law...
"). they often also have privileges of inviolabilityInviolabilityIn religion and ethics, inviolability or sanctity of life is a principle of implied protection regarding aspects of sentient life which are said to be holy, sacred, or otherwise of such value that they are not to be violated...
, sovereign immunitySovereign immunitySovereign immunity, or crown immunity, is a legal doctrine by which the sovereign or state cannot commit a legal wrong and is immune from civil suit or criminal prosecution....
, and an official residenceOfficial residenceAn official residence is the residence at which heads of state, heads of government, gubernatorial or other senior figures officially reside...
. A monarch's powers and influence may depend on tradition, precedent, popular opinion, and lawLawLaw is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...
- In other cases the monarch's power is limited, not due to constitutional restraints, but to effective military ruleMilitary dictatorshipA military dictatorship is a form of government where in the political power resides with the military. It is similar but not identical to a stratocracy, a state ruled directly by the military....
. In the late Roman EmpireRoman EmpireThe Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....
, the Praetorian GuardPraetorian GuardThe Praetorian Guard was a force of bodyguards used by Roman Emperors. The title was already used during the Roman Republic for the guards of Roman generals, at least since the rise to prominence of the Scipio family around 275 BC...
several times deposed Roman EmperorRoman EmperorThe Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman State during the imperial period . The Romans had no single term for the office although at any given time, a given title was associated with the emperor...
s and installed new emperors. The Hellenistic kings of MacedonMacedonMacedonia or Macedon was an ancient kingdom, centered in the northeastern part of the Greek peninsula, bordered by Epirus to the west, Paeonia to the north, the region of Thrace to the east and Thessaly to the south....
and of EpirusEpirusThe name Epirus, from the Greek "Ήπειρος" meaning continent may refer to:-Geographical:* Epirus - a historical and geographical region of the southwestern Balkans, straddling modern Greece and Albania...
were elected by the army, which was similar in composition to the ecclesiaEcclesia (ancient Athens)The ecclesia or ekklesia was the principal assembly of the democracy of ancient Athens during its "Golden Age" . It was the popular assembly, opened to all male citizens over the age of 30 with 2 years of military service by Solon in 594 BC meaning that all classes of citizens in Athens were able...
of democracies, the council of all free citizens; military service often was linked with citizenship among the male members of the royal house. Military domination of the monarch has occurred in modern ThailandThailandThailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...
and in medieval Japan (where a hereditary military chief, the shogunShogunA was one of the hereditary military dictators of Japan from 1192 to 1867. In this period, the shoguns, or their shikken regents , were the de facto rulers of Japan though they were nominally appointed by the emperor...
was the de facto ruler, although the Japanese emperorEmperor of JapanThe Emperor of Japan is, according to the 1947 Constitution of Japan, "the symbol of the state and of the unity of the people." He is a ceremonial figurehead under a form of constitutional monarchy and is head of the Japanese Imperial Family with functions as head of state. He is also the highest...
nominally ruled). In Fascist ItalyItalian FascismItalian Fascism also known as Fascism with a capital "F" refers to the original fascist ideology in Italy. This ideology is associated with the National Fascist Party which under Benito Mussolini ruled the Kingdom of Italy from 1922 until 1943, the Republican Fascist Party which ruled the Italian...
the SavoyHouse of SavoyThe House of Savoy was formed in the early 11th century in the historical Savoy region. Through gradual expansion, it grew from ruling a small county in that region to eventually rule the Kingdom of Italy from 1861 until the end of World War II, king of Croatia and King of Armenia...
monarchy under King Victor Emmanuel III coexisted with the Fascist single-party rule of Benito MussoliniBenito MussoliniBenito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was an Italian politician who led the National Fascist Party and is credited with being one of the key figures in the creation of Fascism....
; RomaniaKingdom of RomaniaThe Kingdom of Romania was the Romanian state based on a form of parliamentary monarchy between 13 March 1881 and 30 December 1947, specified by the first three Constitutions of Romania...
under the Iron GuardIron GuardThe Iron Guard is the name most commonly given to a far-right movement and political party in Romania in the period from 1927 into the early part of World War II. The Iron Guard was ultra-nationalist, fascist, anti-communist, and promoted the Orthodox Christian faith...
and GreeceKingdom of GreeceThe Kingdom of Greece was a state established in 1832 in the Convention of London by the Great Powers...
during the first months of the Colonels' regime were much the same way. Spain under Francisco Franco was officially a monarchy, although there was no monarch on the throne. Upon his death, Franco was succeeded as head of state by the BourbonHouse of BourbonThe House of Bourbon is a European royal house, a branch of the Capetian dynasty . Bourbon kings first ruled Navarre and France in the 16th century. By the 18th century, members of the Bourbon dynasty also held thrones in Spain, Naples, Sicily, and Parma...
heir, Juan Carlos IJuan Carlos I of SpainJuan Carlos I |Italy]]) is the reigning King of Spain.On 22 November 1975, two days after the death of General Francisco Franco, Juan Carlos was designated king according to the law of succession promulgated by Franco. Spain had no monarch for 38 years in 1969 when Franco named Juan Carlos as the...
, who proceeded to make Spain a democracySpanish transition to democracyThe Spanish transition to democracy was the era when Spain moved from the dictatorship of Francisco Franco to a liberal democratic state. The transition is usually said to have begun with Franco’s death on 20 November 1975, while its completion has been variously said to be marked by the Spanish...
with himself as a figurehead constitutional monarch.
Person of monarch
. Historically this was the case in the ancient Greek city-state of Sparta
or 17th-century Russia, and there are examples of joint sovereignty of spouses or relatives (such as William and Mary
in the Kingdoms of England
). Other examples of joint sovereignty include Tsar
s Peter I
and Ivan V
and Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
and Joanna of Castile
of the Crown of Castile
currently is the world's sole constitutional diarchy or co-principality. Located in the Pyrenees
, it has two co-princes: the Bishop of Urgell
) in Spain and the President of France. It is the only situation in which an independent country's monarch is democratically
elected by the citizens of another country.
In a personal union
, separate independent states share the same crown with one person as the monarch. The sixteen separate Commonwealth realm
s are sometimes described as being in a personal union with Queen Elizabeth II as monarch, however, legally each Commonwealth Realm has its own crown or monarchy, so they can also be described as being in a Shared Monarchy.
may rule when the monarch is a minor
, absent, or debilitated.
is a claimant to an abolished throne or to a throne already occupied by somebody else.
is when a monarch resigns.
Monarchs often take part in certain ceremonies, such as a coronation
Role of religionMonarchy, especially absolute monarchy, sometimes is linked to religious
aspects; many monarchs once claimed the right to rule by the will of a deity
(Divine Right of Kings
, Mandate of Heaven
), a special connection to a deity (sacred king
) or even purported to be divine kings, or incarnation
s of deities themselves (imperial cult
). Many European monarchs have been styled Fidei defensor
(Defender of the Faith); some hold official positions relating to the state religion
or established church.
In the Western Catholic political tradition, a morally-based, balanced monarchy is stressed as the ideal form of government, and little reverence is paid to modern-day ideals of egalitarian democracy: e.g. Saint Thomas Aquinas unapologetically declares: "Tyranny is wont to occur not less but more frequently on the basis of polyarchy [rule by many, i.e. oligarchy or democracy] than on the basis of monarchy." (On Kingship). However, Thomas Aquinas also stated that the ideal monarchical system would also have at lower levels of government both an aristocracy and elements of democracy in order to created a balance of power. The monarch would also be subject to both natural and divine law, as well, and also be subject to the Church in matters of religion.
In Dante Alighieri
's De Monarchia, a spiritualized, imperial Catholic monarchy is strongly promoted according to a Ghibelline world-view in which the "royal religion of Melchizedek
" is emphasized against the sacerdotal claims of the rival papal ideology.
, a caliph
is a head of state who is both a temporal leader (of the caliphate, Islamic state) and a religious one (leader of the Ummah
, community of believers).
Titles of monarchsMonarchs have various title
s, including king
(Sovereign Prince of Monaco), emperor
or empress (Emperor of Japan
, Emperor of India
), or even duke
or grand duke
(Grand Duke of Luxembourg
) or duchess. Many monarchs also are distinguished by styles
, such as "Majesty
", "Royal Highness
" or "By the Grace of God
". Islamic monarchs use titles such as Shah
. In Mongolian or Turkic lands, the monarch may use the title Khan
Sometimes titles are used to express claims to territories that are not held in fact (for example, English claims to the French throne
) or titles not recognized (antipope
Dependent monarchiesIn some cases monarchs are dependent on other powers (see vassal
, puppet state
). In the British colonial era indirect rule
under a paramount power existed, such as the princely state
s under the British Raj
, South Africa
, the ancient kingdoms and chiefdom
s that were met by the colonialists when they first arrived on the continent are now constitutionally protected as regional and/or sectional entities. Furthermore, in Nigeria
, though the hundreds of sub-regional polities that exist there are not provided for in the current constitution, they are nevertheless legally recognised aspects of the structure of governance that operates in the nation. In addition to these five countries, peculiar monarchies of varied sizes and complexities exist in various other parts of Africa
SuccessionThe rules for selection of monarchs varies from country to country. In constitutional monarchies the rule of succession generally is embodied in a law passed by a representative body, such as a parliament
Hereditary monarchiesIn a hereditary monarchy
, the position of monarch is inherited according to a statutory or customary order of succession
, usually within one royal family
tracing its origin through a historical dynasty
or bloodline. This usually means that the heir to the throne is known well in advance of becoming monarch to ensure a smooth succession.
, in which the eldest child of the monarch is first in line to become monarch, is the most common system in hereditary monarchy. The order of succession is usually affected by rules on gender. Historically "agnatic primogeniture" or "patrilineal primogeniture" was favoured, that is inheritance according to seniority of birth among the sons of a monarch or head of family, with sons and their male issue inheriting before brothers and their issue, and male-line
males inheriting before females of the male line. This is the same as semi-Salic primogeniture. Complete exclusion of females from dynastic
succession is commonly referred to as application of the Salic law
(see Terra salica
Before primogeniture was enshrined in European law and tradition, kings would often secure the succession by having their successor (usually their eldest son) crowned during their own lifetime, so for a time there would be two kings in coregency – a senior king and a junior king. Examples include Henry the Young King
of England and the early Direct Capetians
Sometimes, however, primogeniture can operate through the female line. In some systems a female may rule as monarch only when the male line dating back to a common ancestor is exhausted. In 1980, Sweden
became the first European monarchy to declare equal (full cognatic) primogeniture, meaning that the eldest child of the monarch, whether female or male, ascends to the throne. Other kingdoms (such as the Netherlands
in 1983, Norway
in 1990, and Belgium
in 1991) have since followed suit. Sometimes religion
is affected; under the Act of Settlement 1701
all Roman Catholics
and all persons who have married Roman Catholics are ineligible to be the British monarch
and are skipped in the order of succession.
In the case of the absence of children, the next most senior member of the collateral line (for example, a younger sibling of the previous monarch) becomes monarch. In complex cases, this can mean that there are closer blood relatives to the deceased monarch than the next in line according to primogeniture. This has often led, especially in Europe in the Middle Ages
, to conflict between the principle of primogeniture and the principle of proximity of blood
, with outcomes that were idiosyncratic.
Other hereditary systems of succession include tanistry
, which is semi-elective and gives weight to merit and Salic law
. In some monarchies, such as Saudi Arabia
, succession to the throne usually first passes to the monarch's next eldest brother, and only after that to the monarch's children (agnatic seniority).
Elective monarchiesIn an elective monarchy
, monarchs are elected
, or appointed by some body (an electoral college
) for life or a defined period, but otherwise serve as any other monarch. There is no popular vote involved in elective monarchies, as the elective body usually consists of a small number of elegible people. Historical examples of elective monarchy include the Holy Roman Emperor
s (chosen by prince-elector
s, but often coming from the same dynasty), and the free election of kings of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. For example, Pepin the Short (father of Charlemagne
) was elected King of the Franks by an assembly of Frankish leading men; Stanisław August Poniatowski of Poland was an elected king, as was Frederick I of Denmark
. Germanic peoples
had elective monarchies.
Three elective monarchies exist today. The pope
of the Roman Catholic Church
(who rules as Sovereign
of the Vatican City State
) is elected to a life term by the College of Cardinals
. In Malaysia, the federal king, called the Yang di-Pertuan Agong
("Paramount Ruler") is elected for a five-year term from and by the hereditary rulers (mostly sultan
s) of nine of the federation's constitutive states
, all on the Malay peninsula
. The United Arab Emirates
also has a procedure for electing its monarch.
Appointment by the current monarch is another system, used in Jordan
. In this system, the monarch chooses the successor, who is always his relative.
Current monarchiesCurrently there are 44 nations in the world with a monarch as head of state. They fall roughly into the following categories:
- Commonwealth realmCommonwealth RealmA Commonwealth realm is a sovereign state within the Commonwealth of Nations that has Elizabeth II as its monarch and head of state. The sixteen current realms have a combined land area of 18.8 million km² , and a population of 134 million, of which all, except about two million, live in the six...
s. These are: Antigua and BarbudaAntigua and BarbudaAntigua and Barbuda is a twin-island nation lying between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. It consists of two major inhabited islands, Antigua and Barbuda, and a number of smaller islands...
, AustraliaAustraliaAustralia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...
, Bahamas, BarbadosBarbadosBarbados is an island country in the Lesser Antilles. It is in length and as much as in width, amounting to . It is situated in the western area of the North Atlantic and 100 kilometres east of the Windward Islands and the Caribbean Sea; therein, it is about east of the islands of Saint...
, BelizeBelizeBelize is a constitutional monarchy and the northernmost country in Central America. Belize has a diverse society, comprising many cultures and languages. Even though Kriol and Spanish are spoken among the population, Belize is the only country in Central America where English is the official...
, CanadaCanadaCanada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...
, GrenadaGrenadaGrenada is an island country and Commonwealth Realm consisting of the island of Grenada and six smaller islands at the southern end of the Grenadines in the southeastern Caribbean Sea...
, JamaicaJamaicaJamaica is an island nation of the Greater Antilles, in length, up to in width and 10,990 square kilometres in area. It is situated in the Caribbean Sea, about south of Cuba, and west of Hispaniola, the island harbouring the nation-states Haiti and the Dominican Republic...
, New ZealandNew ZealandNew Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...
, Papua New GuineaPapua New GuineaPapua New Guinea , officially the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, is a country in Oceania, occupying the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and numerous offshore islands...
, Saint Kitts and NevisSaint Kitts and NevisThe Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis , located in the Leeward Islands, is a federal two-island nation in the West Indies. It is the smallest sovereign state in the Americas, in both area and population....
, Saint LuciaSaint LuciaSaint Lucia is an island country in the eastern Caribbean Sea on the boundary with the Atlantic Ocean. Part of the Lesser Antilles, it is located north/northeast of the island of Saint Vincent, northwest of Barbados and south of Martinique. It covers a land area of 620 km2 and has an...
, Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSaint Vincent and the Grenadines is an island country in the Lesser Antilles chain, namely in the southern portion of the Windward Islands, which lie at the southern end of the eastern border of the Caribbean Sea where the latter meets the Atlantic Ocean....
, Solomon IslandsSolomon IslandsSolomon Islands is a sovereign state in Oceania, east of Papua New Guinea, consisting of nearly one thousand islands. It covers a land mass of . The capital, Honiara, is located on the island of Guadalcanal...
, TuvaluTuvaluTuvalu , formerly known as the Ellice Islands, is a Polynesian island nation located in the Pacific Ocean, midway between Hawaii and Australia. Its nearest neighbours are Kiribati, Nauru, Samoa and Fiji. It comprises four reef islands and five true atolls...
and United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The sixteen Commonwealth realms all share Queen Elizabeth II as monarch in a personal unionPersonal unionA personal union is the combination by which two or more different states have the same monarch while their boundaries, their laws and their interests remain distinct. It should not be confused with a federation which is internationally considered a single state...
arrangement. They all share a common British inheritance and have evolved out of the British EmpireBritish EmpireThe British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...
into membership of the Commonwealth of NationsCommonwealth of NationsThe Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...
as fully independent states where they retain Queen Elizabeth as head of state; unlike other members of the Commonwealth of Nations which are either dependencies, republics or have a different royal house. All sixteen realms are constitutional monarchies and full democracies where the queen has limited powers or a largely ceremonial role. The queen is head of the established Protestant Christian Church of EnglandChurch of EnglandThe Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...
and Church of ScotlandChurch of ScotlandThe Church of Scotland, known informally by its Scots language name, the Kirk, is a Presbyterian church, decisively shaped by the Scottish Reformation....
in the United Kingdom however, the other monarchies do not have an established church.
- European Constitutional Monarchies. These are: AndorraAndorraAndorra , officially the Principality of Andorra , also called the Principality of the Valleys of Andorra, , is a small landlocked country in southwestern Europe, located in the eastern Pyrenees mountains and bordered by Spain and France. It is the sixth smallest nation in Europe having an area of...
, BelgiumBelgiumBelgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...
, DenmarkDenmarkDenmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...
, LuxembourgLuxembourgLuxembourg , officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg , is a landlocked country in western Europe, bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany. It has two principal regions: the Oesling in the North as part of the Ardennes massif, and the Gutland in the south...
, NetherlandsNetherlandsThe Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...
, NorwayNorwayNorway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...
, SpainSpainSpain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...
, SwedenSwedenSweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....
and the United KingdomUnited KingdomThe United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...
. These are all constitutional monarchies and fully democratic states, where the monarch has a limited or largely ceremonial role. There is generally a Christian religion established as the official church in each of these countries. This would be a form of ProtestantismProtestantismProtestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...
in Norway, Sweden, Denmark , UK and the Netherlands, while Belgium, Luxembourg, Andorra, Spain, Liechtenstein and Monaco are Roman Catholic countries. The monarch of the United Kingdom is also the head of state in all the Commonwealth Realms.
- European Constitutional/Absolute. Monarchies These are: Liechtenstein and MonacoPrince of MonacoThe Reigning Prince or Princess of Monaco is the sovereign monarch and head of state of the Principality of Monaco. All Princes or Princesses thus far have taken the name of the House of Grimaldi, but have belonged to various other houses in male line...
, in both of these countries the Prince retains close to the powers of an absolute monarch but still is a constitutional monarch. For example the 2003 Constitution referendumLiechtenstein constitutional referendum, 2003The constitutional referendum regarding the Prince’s powers was a national vote held in Liechtenstein on 14 March 2003. The referendum was two part, consisting of a "Princely Initiative" and a "Constitution Peace Initiative"...
which gives the Prince of Liechtenstein the power to veto any law that the LandtagLandtagA Landtag is a representative assembly or parliament in German-speaking countries with some legislative authority.- Name :...
proposes and the Landtag can veto any law that the Prince tries to pass. The Prince can hire or dismiss any elective member or government employee from his or her post. However what makes him not an absolute monarchy is that the people can call for a referendum to end the monarchy's reign. The Prince of MonacoPrince of MonacoThe Reigning Prince or Princess of Monaco is the sovereign monarch and head of state of the Principality of Monaco. All Princes or Princesses thus far have taken the name of the House of Grimaldi, but have belonged to various other houses in male line...
has simpler powers but can not hire or dismiss any elective member or government employee from his or her post, but he can elect the minister of state, government councilPolitics of MonacoThe politics of Monaco have traditionally been under the autocratic control of the Prince of Monaco, and from its founding, the principality was a monarchy ruled by the House of Grimaldi; however, with the creation of a Constitution in 1911, the Prince relinquished his autocratic rule and the...
and judges. Both Albert IIAlbert II, Prince of MonacoAlbert II, Sovereign Prince of Monaco is the head of the House of Grimaldi and the ruler of the Principality of Monaco. He is the son of Rainier III, Prince of Monaco, and the American actress Grace Kelly...
and Hans-Adam IIHans-Adam II, Prince of LiechtensteinHans-Adam II , is the reigning Prince of Liechtenstein. He is the son of Franz Joseph II, Prince of Liechtenstein and his wife Countess Georgina von Wilczek . He also bears the titles Duke of Troppau and Jägerndorf, Count of Rietberg...
have quite a bit of political power, but they also own huge tracts of land and are shareholders in many companies.
- Islamic Monarchies. These are: BahrainBahrain' , officially the Kingdom of Bahrain , is a small island state near the western shores of the Persian Gulf. It is ruled by the Al Khalifa royal family. The population in 2010 stood at 1,214,705, including 235,108 non-nationals. Formerly an emirate, Bahrain was declared a kingdom in 2002.Bahrain is...
, BruneiBruneiBrunei , officially the State of Brunei Darussalam or the Nation of Brunei, the Abode of Peace , is a sovereign state located on the north coast of the island of Borneo, in Southeast Asia...
, JordanJordanJordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...
, KuwaitKuwaitThe State of Kuwait is a sovereign Arab state situated in the north-east of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south at Khafji, and Iraq to the north at Basra. It lies on the north-western shore of the Persian Gulf. The name Kuwait is derived from the...
, Malaysia, MoroccoMoroccoMorocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...
, OmanOmanOman , officially called the Sultanate of Oman , is an Arab state in southwest Asia on the southeast coast of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by the United Arab Emirates to the northwest, Saudi Arabia to the west, and Yemen to the southwest. The coast is formed by the Arabian Sea on the...
, QatarQatarQatar , also known as the State of Qatar or locally Dawlat Qaṭar, is a sovereign Arab state, located in the Middle East, occupying the small Qatar Peninsula on the northeasterly coast of the much larger Arabian Peninsula. Its sole land border is with Saudi Arabia to the south, with the rest of its...
, Saudi ArabiaSaudi ArabiaThe Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...
, United Arab EmiratesUnited Arab EmiratesThe United Arab Emirates, abbreviated as the UAE, or shortened to "the Emirates", is a state situated in the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia on the Persian Gulf, bordering Oman, and Saudi Arabia, and sharing sea borders with Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and Iran.The UAE is a...
. Islamic monarchs generally retain far more powers than their European or Commonwealth counterparts. Brunei, Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia remain absolute monarchies. Bahrain, Kuwait and United Arab Emirates are classified as mixed, meaning there are representative bodies of some kind, but the monarch retains most of his powers. Jordan, Malaysia and Morocco are constitutional monarchies, but their monarchs still retain more substantial powers than European equivalents. For convenience, Malaysia is grouped here with the Islamic monarchies, even though it could also qualify as an East Asian constitutional monarchy.
- East Asian Constitutional Monarchies. These are BhutanBhutanBhutan , officially the Kingdom of Bhutan, is a landlocked state in South Asia, located at the eastern end of the Himalayas and bordered to the south, east and west by the Republic of India and to the north by the People's Republic of China...
, CambodiaCambodiaCambodia , officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia...
, JapanJapanJapan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...
, ThailandThailandThailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...
. These are constitutional monarchies where the monarch has a limited or ceremonial role. Bhutan, Japan, and Thailand are countries that were never colonised by European powers, but have changed from traditional absolute monarchies into constitutional ones during the twentieth century. Cambodia had its own monarchy after independence from France, which was deposed after the Khmer Rouge came into power and the subsequent invasion by Vietnam. The monarchy was subsequently restored in the peace agreement of 1993. Shintoism is the established religion in Japan, while Bhutan, Cambodia and Thailand are all Buddhist countries. However, most Japanese people practice Buddhism and Shinto simutaneously.
- Other monarchies. These are TongaTongaTonga, officially the Kingdom of Tonga , is a state and an archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean, comprising 176 islands scattered over of ocean in the South Pacific...
in the Pacific; SwazilandSwazilandSwaziland, officially the Kingdom of Swaziland , and sometimes called Ngwane or Swatini, is a landlocked country in Southern Africa, bordered to the north, south and west by South Africa, and to the east by Mozambique...
and LesothoLesothoLesotho , officially the Kingdom of Lesotho, is a landlocked country and enclave, surrounded by the Republic of South Africa. It is just over in size with a population of approximately 2,067,000. Its capital and largest city is Maseru. Lesotho is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. The name...
in Africa, and the Vatican CityVatican CityVatican City , or Vatican City State, in Italian officially Stato della Città del Vaticano , which translates literally as State of the City of the Vatican, is a landlocked sovereign city-state whose territory consists of a walled enclave within the city of Rome, Italy. It has an area of...
in Europe. Lesotho and Tonga are constitutional monarchies. Swaziland and Vatican City are absolute monarchies. They are all Christian countries, and the PopePopeThe Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...
, who is the monarch of the Vatican is also the head of the Roman Catholic religion