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Monarchy Countries 2024

A monarchy is a form of government in which a single leader rules a given nation for life. The general term for this leader is a monarch, whose formal title is usually King, though titles including Queen, Amir, Emperor/Empress, and Sultan are also used. While a select few monarchs are democratically elected, the overwhelming majority inherit their position from a relative (usually a parent) who was the previous monarch. The term "monarchy" can refer to either a country's government ("This kingdom is ruled by a monarchy") or to the country itself ("This kingdom is a monarchy"). Monarchies were the dominant form of government from the earliest periods of recorded history clear up to the 1900s, but are increasingly uncommon today, and those that do remain have often diluted the monarch's power.

While most democratic heads of state, such as presidents and prime ministers, are elected and can only serve a limited number of years, monarchies tend to operate differently. The king (or sultan, etc.) holds their position permanently, only giving it up when they die, step down, or (in very rare instances) commit some egregious violation of their limited rules. When this happens, the role almost always passes to a son, daughter, or other relative. As such, the only way to become the monarch in most cases is to be related as closely as possible to the existing monarch and wait for them to vacate the position one way or another. Perhaps unsurprisingly, many monarchs and heirs throughout history have either died under mysterious circumstances or been murdered outright by family members next in line for the throne.

Types of monarchy

Monarchies exist in many forms. In absolute monarchies, the monarch has complete power, with no checks or balances to their authority. However, most modern monarchies are limited monarchies, in which the power of the monarch is limited by laws, a constitution, and/or a more democratic governmental body such as a parliament. Limited monarchies can be further broken down into several sub-types such as a constitutional monarchy, a mixed monarchy, or a federal monarchy. As a result of these variations, the role and power of the modern monarch varies from country to country. While a few monarchs are still the undisputed rulers of their nations, many are essentially ceremonial figureheads with little political power. For example, England's King Charles III is the Head of State and commands great wealth, prestige, and respect—however, the country is actually ruled by Parliament and its the Head of Government, the Prime Minister.

The United Kingdom: The most well-known monarchy in the world

The monarchy that the majority of people are most familiar with is that of the United Kingdom. As the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Queen Elizabeth II was a prime example of a monarch. Elizabeth was born into the royal family on 21 April 1926 and assumed the throne on 6 February 1952, at the age of 25. She reigned as queen until her death on 8 September 2022 (at age 96), a total of 70 years and 214 days, which ranks as the longest reign of any British monarch and of any female head of state in the world.

Upon Elizabeth's death, the role of monarch passed down the line of succession to her eldest son, Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, who was installed as King Charles III on 8 September, 2022. As the heir apparent to the throne, Charles was already well known throughout the world, as were his sons Prince William, Prince of Wales; and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex; as well as Charles' late ex-wife, Princess Diana Spencer, and his current spouse, Camilla Parker Bowles. Although Elizabeth II also has three other children—Princess Anne, Princess Royal; Prince Andrew, the Duke of York; and Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex—Charles' eldest son, Prince William, is now next in line for the throne according to the rules of succession.

Functionally speaking, the U.K. is what is known as a constitutional monarchy, which operates under the guidance of a constitution that restricts the monarch from making decisions independently. Constitutional monarchies are often combined with some type of representative democracy, such as the U.K.'s Parliament and Prime Minister, which handles the bulk of the governance.

The Top 3 Most Unusual Monarchies in the World (in no particular order):

  • Vatican City/Holy See — Although most governmental duties are the domain of the President of the Pontifical Commission and the Secretariat of State of the Holy See, the pope has absolute power over every branch of government, making him the only absolute monarch in Europe.
  • United Kingdom — The world's best-known monarchy is also one of its most peculiar thanks to the country's history of imperialism. Despite his largely ceremonial role, the U.K.'s King Charles III is technically the king of not just one, but fifteen sovereign states, including former British territories New Zealand, Australia, and Canada. This is actually one fewer than in previous years, as the would-be sixteenth country, Barbados, elected its first president in 2021.
  • Andorra — The only existing diarchy in the world, Andorra has two monarchs who rule in tandem—neither of whom are actually from Andorra. The first is the President of France (Emmanuel Macron as of 2021), who automatically becomes a Prince of Andorra as well. The second is the Bishop of Urgell (Archbishop Joan-Enric Vives Sicília in 2021), who is appointed by the pope. Andorra is also the only monarchy to employ an ex officio system of succession, which means the title will pass to the next people to hold the offices of President of France and Bishop of Urgell, rather than the current princes' children.

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Type of Monarch
Monarch's Role
Current Monarch (2024)
Date of Ascension
Royal House/Lineage
Current Heir to Throne
MalaysiaYang di-Pertuan AgongCeremonial & FederalIbrahim Iskandar01-31-2024TemenggongElective
OmanSultanAbsoluteHaitham bin Tariq01-11-2020Al SaidTheyazin bin Haitham
BruneiSultanAbsoluteHassanal Bolkiah10-05-1967BolkiahAl-Muhtadee Billah
LiechtensteinPrinceExecutiveHans-Adam II11-13-1989LiechtensteinThe Hereditary Prince Alois (currently Prince Regent)
MonacoPrinceExecutiveAlbert II04-06-2005GrimaldiJacques, Hereditary Prince of Monaco
United Arab EmiratesPresidentExecutive & FederalMohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan05-14-2022Al NahyanHereditary and elective (presumably Khaled bin Mohamed Al Nahyan)
Vatican CityPopeAbsoluteFrancis03-13-2013noneElective
United KingdomKing or QueenCeremonialKing Charles III09-08-2022WindsorWilliam, Prince of Wales
CanadaKing or QueenCeremonialKing Charles III09-08-2022WindsorWilliam, Prince of Wales
AustraliaKing or QueenCeremonialKing Charles III09-08-2022WindsorWilliam, Prince of Wales
Papua New GuineaKing or QueenCeremonialKing Charles III09-08-2022WindsorWilliam, Prince of Wales
New ZealandKing or QueenCeremonialKing Charles III09-08-2022WindsorWilliam, Prince of Wales
JamaicaKing or QueenCeremonialKing Charles III09-08-2022WindsorWilliam, Prince of Wales
Solomon IslandsKing or QueenCeremonialKing Charles III09-08-2022WindsorWilliam, Prince of Wales
BelizeKing or QueenCeremonialKing Charles III09-08-2022WindsorWilliam, Prince of Wales
BahamasKing or QueenCeremonialKing Charles III09-08-2022WindsorWilliam, Prince of Wales
Saint LuciaKing or QueenCeremonialKing Charles III09-08-2022WindsorWilliam, Prince of Wales
GrenadaKing or QueenCeremonialKing Charles III09-08-2022WindsorWilliam, Prince of Wales
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesKing or QueenCeremonialKing Charles III09-08-2022WindsorWilliam, Prince of Wales
Antigua and BarbudaKing or QueenCeremonialKing Charles III09-08-2022WindsorWilliam, Prince of Wales
Saint Kitts and NevisKing or QueenCeremonialKing Charles III09-08-2022WindsorWilliam, Prince of Wales
TuvaluKing or QueenCeremonialKing Charles III09-08-2022WindsorWilliam, Prince of Wales
ThailandKingCeremonialVajiralongkorn10-13-2016ChakriDipangkorn Rasmijoti (Presumptive heir)
SpainKingCeremonialFelipe VI06-19-2014Borbón-AnjouLeonor, Princess of Asturias (Presumptive heir)
MoroccoKingExecutiveMohammed VI07-23-1999AlawiMoulay Hassan, Crown Prince of Morocco
Saudi ArabiaKingAbsoluteSalman01-23-2015Al SaudMohammed bin Salman
NetherlandsKingCeremonialWillem-Alexander04-30-2013Orange-NassauCatharina-Amalia, Princess of Orange
CambodiaKingCeremonialNorodom Sihamoni10-14-2004NorodomHereditary and elective
BelgiumKingCeremonialPhilippe07-21-2013Saxe-Coburg and GothaPrincess Elisabeth, Duchess of Brabant
JordanKingExecutiveAbdullah II02-07-1999Al HāshimHereditary and elective (presumably Hussein, Crown Prince of Jordan)
SwedenKingCeremonialCarl XVI Gustaf09-15-1973BernadotteVictoria, Crown Princess of Sweden
DenmarkKingCeremonialFrederik X01-14-2024Glücksburg (official) Monpezat (agnatic)Christian, Crown Prince of Denmark
NorwayKingCeremonialHarald V01-17-1991GlücksburgHaakon, Crown Prince of Norway
LesothoKingCeremonialLetsie III02-07-1996MosheshLerotholi Seeiso
BahrainKingExecutiveHamad bin Isa Al Khalifa03-06-1999Al KhalifaSalman, Crown Prince of Bahrain
EswatiniKingAbsoluteMswati III04-25-1986DlaminiHereditary and elective
TongaKingExecutiveTupou VI03-18-2012TupouTupoutoʻa ʻUlukalala
LuxembourgGrand DukeCeremonialHenri10-07-2000Luxembourg-NassauGuillaume, Hereditary Grand Duke of Luxembourg
JapanEmperorCeremonialNaruhito05-01-2019YamatoFumihito, Prince Akishino (Presumptive heir)
KuwaitEmirExecutiveMishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah12-16-2023Al SabahHereditary and elective
QatarEmirExecutiveTamim bin Hamad Al Thani06-25-2013Al ThaniAbdullah bin Hamad
BhutanDruk GyalpoExecutiveJigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck12-09-2006WangchuckJigme Namgyel
AndorraCo-PrinceCeremonialPrince Emmanuel Macron| Archbishop Joan Enric Vives Sicília05-12-2003| 05-14-2017Ex officio
showing: 43 rows

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