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Monarchy Today

As of 2020, there are 44 sovereign states in the world with a monarch as Head of state. 13 in Asia, 12 in Europe, 10 in North America, 6 in Oceania and 3 in Africa.

Types of monarchy

These are roughly the categories which modern monarchies fall into:

Absolute monarchs remain in the Nation of Brunei, the Abode of Peace; the Sultanate of Oman; the State of Qatar; the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; and the United Arab Emirates. while the Kingdom of Bahrain and the State of Kuwait are classified as mixed, meaning there are representative bodies of some kind, but the monarch retains most of his powers. The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Malaysia, and the Kingdom of Morocco are constitutional monarchies, but their monarchs still retain more substantial powers than in European equivalents.

  • East and Southeast Asian constitutional monarchies. The Kingdom of Bhutan; the Kingdom of Cambodia; and the Kingdom of Thailand have constitutional monarchies where the monarch has a limited or ceremonial role. Thailand changed from traditional absolute monarchy into a constitutional one during the twentieth century, while the Kingdom of Bhutan changed in 2008. The Kingdom of Cambodia had its own monarchy after independence from the French Colonial Empire, which was deposed after the Khmer Rouge came into power. The monarchy was subsequently restored in the peace agreement of 1993. The State of Japan has no official head of state under the 1947 constitution,[1] but is commonly considered a de facto constitutional monarchy.
  • Other monarchies. Five monarchies do not fit into one of the above groups by virtue of geography or class of monarchy: the Kingdom of Tonga in PolynesiaKingdom of Eswatini (Swaziland) and the Kingdom of Lesotho in Africa; and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (S.M.O.M.), and the Vatican City State in Europe. Of these, the Kingdom of Lesotho and the Kingdom of Tonga are constitutional monarchies, while the Kingdom of Eswatini and the Vatican City State are absolute monarchies. The Kingdom of Eswatini is increasingly being considered a diarchy. The King, or Ngwenyama, rules alongside his mother, the Ndlovukati, as dual heads of state originally designed to be checks on political power. The Ngwenyama, however, is considered the administrative head of state, while the Ndlovukati is considered the spiritual and national head of state, a position which has become largely symbolic in recent years. S.M.O.M. is governed by an elected Prince and Grand Master. The Pope is the absolute monarch of the Vatican by virtue of his position as head of the Roman Catholic Church and Bishop of Rome; he is an elected rather than hereditary ruler. The Pope need not be a citizen of the territory prior to his election by the cardinals.

Lines of succession

Some of the extant sovereign monarchies have lines of succession that go back to the medieval period or antiquity:

  • The kings of Cambodia claim descent from Queen Soma (1st century), although the historiographical record is interrupted in the “Post-Angkor Period” (15th/16th centuries). A real unified kingdom of Cambodia first came to existence in 802. The monarchy in Cambodia was abolished between 1970 and 1993.
  • There exists several suggestions to a possible line of succession in the Danish monarchy from the late 7th century and until Gorm the Old, but none of these suggestions have so far won universal acceptance. Most monarchs in Denmark since the 940s have been descendants of Gorm the Old’s father Harthacnut and all monarchs in Denmark since 1047 have been descendants of titular Queen Estrid Svendsdatter. A formal law of succession was not adapted in Denmark until 1665.
  • Japan, considered a constitutional monarchy under the Imperial House of Japan, has a claim to being the world’s oldest extant continuous hereditary monarchy,[2] with a traditional origin in 660 BC, commonly accepted archaeological and cultural evidence from the 3rd century and reliable historiographical evidence from at least the 6th century.
  • The monarchs of the kingdom of Norway by virtue of descent from Harald I Fairhair, who united the realm in 872. Harald as a member of the House of Yngling is given a partly legendary line of succession from earlier petty kings in historiographical tradition. Far from all monarchs of Norway since the 930s have been descendants of Harald Fairhair (at least 7 or 8 Norwegian kings from the period c. 970 – 1859 weren’t descendants of Harald Fairhair).
  • The kings of Spain via descent from the Catholic Monarchs (via the House of Habsburg), ultimately combining the lines of succession of Castile and León and Aragon, realms established in the 10th to 11th centuries in the course of the Reconquista, via the Kingdom of Asturias claiming descent from the Visigothic Kingdom (which, originally ruled by the Thervingi kings, had become elective in the 6th century). The monarchy of Spain was abolished twice in the 19th & 20th centuries (1873-1874 and 1931-1947) and replaced by republics.
  • The monarchs of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth realms inherit the throne by virtue of the line of descent from the House of Stuart (Union of the Crowns 1603), combining the lines of succession of the kingdoms of England and Scotland going back to the 9th century. The succession to the English throne can be argued to originate with the House of Wessex, established in the 6th century; that to the Scottish throne with descent from Pictish kings which likewise enter the historical record around the 6th century. The line of succession and descent of the Scottish throne are unbroken, whereas the English throne shifted between several unrelated dynasties/families between 1013 and 1066. The monarchy of England was abolished in 1649 and that of Scotland in 1652 and replaced by various types of republican governments between the years 1649 to 1660.

Current monarchies

Monarchy Official local name Title of Head of State Title of Head of Government Type of Monarchy Succession
Current
constitution
 Principality of Andorra [3] In CatalanPrincipat d’Andorra Co-Princes Prime Minister Constitutional Ex officio 1993
 Antigua and Barbuda[4] In EnglishAntigua and Barbuda Queen Hereditary 1981
 Commonwealth of Australia[5] In EnglishCommonwealth of Australia Queen Hereditary 1901
 Commonwealth of the Bahamas[6] In EnglishCommonwealth of the Bahamas Queen Hereditary 1973
 Barbados[7] In EnglishBarbados Queen Hereditary 1966
 Kingdom of Bahrain[8] In ArabicMamlakat al- Baḥrayn King Mixed Hereditary 2002
 Kingdom of Belgium[9] In DutchKoninkrijk BelgiëIn FrenchRoyaume de Belgique In GermanKönigreich Belgien King Constitutional Hereditary 1 1831
 Belize[10] In EnglishBelize Queen 1981
 Kingdom of Bhutan[11] In DzongkhaDruk Gyal Khap King 2007
 Kingdom of Cambodia In KhmerPreăh Réachéanachâk Kâmpŭchéa King Hereditary and elective 1993
 Brunei Darussalam[12] In MalayNegara Brunei Darussalam Absolute Hereditary 1959
 Canada In English and FrenchCanada Queen Prime Minister Constitutional 1867
Denmark Kingdom of Denmark[13] In DanishKongeriget Danmark Queen 1953
 Kingdom of Eswatini[14] In Swazi; Umbuso weSwatini
In EnglishKingdom of Eswatini
King Absolute Hereditary and elective 1968
 Grenada[15] In EnglishGrenada Queen Constitutional Hereditary 1974
 Jamaica[16] In EnglishJamaica 1962
 Japan[17] In Japanese日本国 (Nippon-koku/Nihon-koku) Emperor 1947
 State of Kuwait[18] In ArabicDawlat al-Kuwait Emir Hereditary and elective 1962
 Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan[19] In Arabical-Mamlakah al-Urdunīyah al-Hāshimīyah King 1952
 Kingdom of Lesotho[20] In SothoMuso oa LesothoIn EnglishKingdom of Lesotho 1993
 Principality of Liechtenstein[21] In GermanFürstentum Liechtenstein Sovereign Prince Hereditary 1862
 Grand Duchy of Luxembourg[22] In FrenchGrand-Duché de LuxembourgIn GermanGroßherzogtum Luxemburg

In LuxembourgishGroussherzogtum Lëtzebuerg

Grand Duke 1868
 Malaysia[23] In MalayMalaysia Yang di-Pertuan Agong Elective 1957
 Principality of Monaco[24] In FrenchPrincipauté de MonacoIn MonégasquePrincipatu de Múnegu Sovereign Prince Minister of State Hereditary 1911
 Kingdom of Morocco[25] In Arabical-Mamlaka al-MaghribiyyaIn BerberTageldit n Lmaɣrib King Prime Minister Constitutional 1631
 Kingdom of the Netherlands[26] In DutchKoninkrijk der NederlandenIn West FrisianKeninkryk fan de Nederlannen King 1815
 New Zealand [27] In EnglishNew ZealandIn MaoriAotearoa Queen 1907
 Kingdom of Norway[28] In BokmålKongeriket NorgeIn NynorskKongeriket Noreg King 1814
 Sultanate of Oman[29] In ArabicSalṭanat ‘Umān Absolute 1996
 Independent State of Papua New Guinea[30] In EnglishIndependent State of Papua New GuineaIn Tok PisinIndependen Stet bilong Papua Niugini

In Hiri Motu Papua Niu Gini

Queen Prime Minister Constitutional 1975
 Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis[31] In EnglishFederation of Saint Christopher and Nevis 1983
 Saint Lucia[32] In EnglishSaint Lucia 1979
 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines[33] In EnglishSaint Vincent and the Grenadines 1979
 Solomon Islands In EnglishSolomon Islands 1978
 Kingdom of Saudi Arabia[34] In ArabicAl-Mamlakah al-Arabiyah as-Sa’ūdiyah Absolute Hereditary and elective 19922
 Kingdom of Spain In SpanishReino de España King President of the Government Constitutional Hereditary 1978
 Kingdom of Sweden[35] In Swedish; Konungariket Sverige Prime Minister 1974
 State of Qatar[36] In ArabicDawlat Qaṭar Emir Mixed 2004
 Kingdom of Thailand[37] In Thai; Ratcha Anachak Thai King Constitutional 2017
 Kingdom of Tonga[38] In TongaPuleʻanga Fakatuʻi ʻo Tonga
In English; Kingdom of Tonga
1970
 Tuvalu[39] In EnglishTuvalu Queen 1978
 United Arab Emirates[40] In ArabicDawlat al-ʾImārāt al-ʿArabiyyah al-Muttaḥidah President Hereditary and elective 1971
 United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland[41] In EnglishUnited Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
In WelshTeyrnas Unedig Prydain Fawr a Gogledd Iwerddon
In IrishRíocht Aontaithe na Breataine Móire agus Thuaisceart Éireann
In Scots GaelicRìoghachd Aonaichte Bhreatainn agus Èirinn a Tuath
Queen Hereditary 1701
  Vatican City State[42] In LatinStatus Civitatis Vaticanae
In ItalianStato della Città del Vaticano
Pope President of the Pontifical Commission Absolute Elective 1920

 

 

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