For many, the idea of a king or queen might conjure up thoughts of Game of Thrones before anything else, but it’s easy to forget that there are many countries around the world today that still have a monarchy in some shape or form. And note that these monarchies are not all one and the same. Two countries can technically both be monarchies, but be run completely different. Here’s the lowdown on what exactly a monarchy is, the different types, and what countries have a monarchy today.
What Is A Monarchy?
At the core, the easiest way to define a country with a monarchy is any government where the leader of a group holds some sort of leadership title that is passed down by birth. Along with this, they need to hold onto that title/position until they either die or willingly abdicate. The person holding the title is considered the monarch. Technically, any country with a monarch is considered a monarchy, though that doesn’t mean they are all run the same. For example, let’s take a look at probably the most recognizable monarch: Queen Elizabeth II of the UK.
Technically, Queen Elizabeth is the monarch both of the UK as well as its commonwealths, including countries like Australia, Canada, and Jamaica. However, despite holding this title, she doesn’t necessarily hold a political role. Instead, all of these countries have some sort of constitution and representative bodies, making them constitutional monarchies. Here, the role of the monarch is more of a figurehead one. They are still a focus of great national pride and attention, and may host other heads of state for diplomatic functions.
Even outside of the UK and its commonwealths, the bulk of existing monarchies out there today fall under this category, like Japan, Bhutan, Denmark, Spain, and others. However, there are other types of monarchies out there, some that still have some degree of political power.
Further reading: Queen Elizabeth II Quotes
Different Types of Monarchies
One good example of this “mixed monarchy” is Monaco. The Prince of Monaco doesn’t wield absolute power, but does have some form of control in the government. He is able to select judges, the Minister of State, as well as members of the government council.
In general, however, the most powerful monarchies in the world are in the Middle East. For example, countries like Bahrain, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates are technically considered mixed monarchies. However, in this case, the balance of power is tipped towards the monarch as opposed to the representative body. There are also absolute monarchies in the Middle East as well, where the ruler has all the power. These include Oman and Saudi Arabia.
While all the monarchies of the world can be cast somewhere on this scale as far as power goes, there are a few countries that bear mention on their own. For example, Vatican City is unique in that the Pope serves as absolute monarch by virtue of being the leader of the Catholic Church. However, he is also an elected ruler. The Principality of Andorra is a co-regency, where two people split leadership duties. However, the constitution is ultimately the law of the land.
One interesting situation that skirts the definition of monarchy is North Korea. Technically, it is not a monarchy, but in 2013, the constitution was changed so a member of the Kim family had to rule the country.
Countries With A Monarchy
With all this said, what exactly are the countries out there that still have a monarchy as their system of government? Here’s the full list, in alphabetical order.
- Antigua and Barbuda
- New Zealand
- Papua New Guinea
- Saint Kitts and Nevis
- Saint Lucia
- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
- Saudi Arabia
- Solomon Islands
- United Arab Emirates
- United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
- Vatican City
Despite how it sounds, it’s not always good to be the king. See if you can match historical royals with some of their hardships in this quiz.