A monarchy is a form of government in which sovereignty is actually or nominally embodied in a single individual (the monarch).

Forms of monarchy differ widely based on the level of legal autonomy the monarch holds in governance, the method of selection of the monarch, and any predetermined limits on the length of their tenure. When the monarch has no or few legal restraints in state and political matters, it is called an absolute monarchy and is a form of autocracy. Cases in which the monarch's discretion is formally limited (most common today) are called constitutional monarchies. In hereditary monarchies, the office is passed through inheritance within a family group, whereas elective monarchies are selected by some system of voting. Historically these systems are most commonly combined, either formally or informally, in some manner. (For instance, in some elected monarchies only those of certain pedigrees are considered eligible, whereas many hereditary monarchies have legal requirements regarding the religion, age, gender, mental capacity, and other factors that act both as de facto elections and to create situations of rival claimants whose legitimacy is subject to effective election.) Finally, there are situations in which the expiration of a monarch’s reign is set based either on the calendar or on the achievement of certain goals (repulse of invasion, for instance.) The effect of historical and geographic difference along each of these three axes is to create widely divergent structures and traditions defining “monarchy.”

Monarchy was the most common form of government into the 19th century, but it is no longer prevalent, at least at the national level. Where it exists, it now often takes the form of constitutional monarchy, in which the monarch retains a unique legal and ceremonial role, but exercises limited or no political power pursuant to a constitution or tradition which allocates governing authority elsewhere. Currently, 44 sovereign nations in the world have monarchs acting as heads of state, 16 of which are Commonwealth realms that recognize Queen Elizabeth II as their head of state. All European monarchies are constitutional ones, with the exception of the Vatican City, but sovereigns in the smaller states exercise greater political influence than in the larger. The monarchs of Cambodia, Japan, Jordan, Malaysia and Morocco "reign, but do not rule" although there is considerable variation in the amount of authority they wield. Although they reign under constitutions, the monarchs of Brunei, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Swaziland appear to continue to exercise more political influence than any other single source of authority in their nations, either by constitutional mandate or by tradition.

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Read more about Monarchy:  Etymology, History, Characteristics and Role, Succession, Current Monarchies

Other articles related to "monarchy":

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Famous quotes containing the word monarchy:

    Here lies a King that ruled as he thought fit
    The universal monarchy of wit;
    Here lies two flamens, and both those the best,
    Apollo’s first, at last the true God’s priest.
    Thomas Carew (1589–1639)

    How can a monarchy be a suitable thing, which allows a man to do as he pleases with none to hold him to account. And even if you were to take the best man on earth, and put him into a monarchy, you put outside him the thoughts that usually guide him.
    Herodotus (c. 484–424 B.C.)

    Why doesn’t the United States take over the monarchy and unite with England? England does have important assets. Naturally the longer you wait, the more they will dwindle. At least you could use it for a summer resort instead of Maine.
    —W.H. (Wystan Hugh)