Kingdoms and Monarchs of the World

Updated November 19, 2020 | Logan Chamberlain

The world's kings and queens

Ever since the French Revolution, the future of monarchy in the world has been a bit shaky. As recently as 2008, communist revolutionaries in Nepal overthrew their monarchy to establish a republic. Still, despite a couple centuries of toppling kings, there are 44 monarchies in the world today. 13 are in Asia, 12 are in Europe, 10 are in North America, 6 are in Oceania, and 3 are in Africa. There are no monarchies in South America.

It's maybe important to note that there are 44 monarchies, but there are only 29 monarchs. Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom is queen of 15 other Commonwealth Realms that formerly composed the British Empire.

What is a monarchy?

A monarchy (from the Greekmonarkhia; "mnos", only, and "arkh?" authority) is a country lead by a single ruler, usually a king or queen. Monarchs are usually not elected in any way., although there are elective monarchies. Malaysia is an elective monarchy, as was the Holy Roman Empire.

The monarch, as the leader is known, can be head of state, head of government, or both. The head of state is the representative of the country and its people, especially in diplomatic affairs. The head of government, by contrast, is the person who actually leads the government in creating and enforcing policies.

A monarchy is typically called a kingdom. Other terms might include grand duchy (as in the case of Luxembourg), principality (as in the case of Monaco), or city state (as in the case of the Vatican).

How do monarchies differ?

There are different types of monarchies based on how much political power the monarch has, and how their office is inherited.

Absolute monarchies are ones in which the monarch exercises total power as the head of state and head of government. They may have assemblies or other government bodies, but the monarch exercises final authority. The most famous example of an absolute monarchy today is Saudi Arabia, where the ruling House of Saud holds immense power and influence.

Constitutional monarchies are ones in which the powers of the monarch are explicitly restrained by law. They are usually just the head of state, while the head of government will be an elected prime minister. As in the case of the United Kingdom, the monarch might technically have great authority, but they aren't empowered to flex that power. Contrary to the common perception in the U.S., Queen Elizabeth II can declare war, veto laws, and dismiss the government. She wouldn't do so without consulting her government, however, due to a variety of legal and political factors.

A mixed monarchy is one in which there is a legislature with powers, but the monarch maintains more authority than in a constitutional monarchy. The most famous example is Jordan, where the king exercises a great deal of power but the country is fairly democratic.

What countries are monarchies?

Here is a list of all the monarchies in the world, listed by country with type of monarchy. See also: Current World Leaders

CountryMonarchType of monarchy
AndorraAndorra is ruled by two princes, one of whom is always the current President of France.Constitutional
BahrainKing Hamad bin Isa al-KhalifaConstitutional
BelgiumKing Philippe (2013)Constitutional
BhutanJigme Khesar Namgyal WangchukinConstitutional
BruneiSultan Haji Hassanal BolkiahConstitutional
CambodiaKing Norodom SihamoniConstitutional
DenmarkQueen Margrethe IIConstitutional
JapanEmperor AkihitoConstitutional
JordanKing Abdullah IIConstitutional
KuwaitSabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah (2006)Constitutional
LesothoKing Letsie IIIConstitutional
LiechtensteinPrince Hans Adam IIConstitutional
LuxembourgGrand Duke HenriConstitutional
MalaysiaAlmu'tasimu Billahi Muhibbuddin Tuanku Alhaj Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah Ibni Almarhum Sultan BadlishahConstitutional
MonacoPrince Albert IIConstitutional
MoroccoKing Muhammad VIConstitutional
NetherlandsKing Willem-AlexanderConstitutional
NorwayKing Harald VConstitutional
OmanSultan Qabus ibn Sa'idAbsolute
QatarEmir Sheik Tamim ibn Hamad Al ThaniConstitutional
SamoaTuiatua Tupua Tamasese EfiConstitutional
Saudi ArabiaKing SalmanAbsolute
SpainFelipe VIParliamentary
SwazilandKing Mswati IIIAbsolute
SwedenKing Carl XVI GustafConstitutional
ThailandPrem Tinsulanonda, regentConstitutional
TongaKing Tupou VIConstitutional
United KingdomQueen Elizabeth II1Constitutional2
Vatican CityPope FrancisAbsolute
1. Queen Elizabeth II is also the Sovereign of 15 countries in the Commonwealth of Nations: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu.
2. Also parliamentary democracy.

See also World Rulers.

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