The Monarchy Portal
A monarchy is a form of government in which a person, the monarch, is head of state for life or until abdication. The political legitimacy and authority of the monarch may vary from purely symbolic (crowned republic), to restricted (constitutional monarchy), to fully autocratic (absolute monarchy), and can expand across the domains of the executive, legislative and judicial. A monarchy can be a polity through unity, personal union, vassalage or federation, and monarchs can carry various titles such as king, queen, emperor, Raja, khan, caliph, tsar, sultan, or shah.
In most cases, the succession of monarchies is hereditary, often building dynastic periods, however elective and self-proclaimed monarchies are possible. Aristocrats, though not inherent to monarchies, often serve as the pool of persons to draw the monarch from and fill the constituting institutions (e.g. diet and court), giving many monarchies oligarchic elements.
Monarchies were the most common form of government until the 20th century. Today forty-five sovereign nations in the world have a monarch, including sixteen Commonwealth realms that have Elizabeth II as the head of state. Other than that there are a range of sub-national monarchic entities. Modern monarchies tend to be constitutional monarchies, retaining under a constitution unique legal and ceremonial roles for the monarch, exercising limited or no political power, similar to heads of state in a parliamentary republic.
The opposing and alternative form of government to monarchy has become the republic.
Constantine II of Scotland
was an early King of Scotland
, known then by the Gaelic name Alba. His reign, like those of his predecessors, was dominated by the actions of Viking
rulers in Britain and Ireland
, particularly the Uí Ímair
. During Constantine's reign, the rulers of the southern kingdoms of Wessex
, later the kingdom of England
, extended their authority northwards into the disputed kingdoms of Northumbria
. At first allied with the southern rulers against the Vikings, Constantine in time came into conflict with them. King Æthelstan
secured Constantine's submission in 927 and 934, but the two again fought when Constantine, allied with the Strathclyde Britons
and the Viking king of Dublin
, invaded Æthelstan's kingdom in 937, only to be defeated at the great battle of Brunanburh
. In 943 Constantine abdicated the throne and retired to the Céli Dé
monastery of St Andrews
where he died in 952. His reign of 43 years, exceeded in Scotland only by that of King William the Lion
before the Union of the Crowns
in 1603, is believed to have played a defining part in the gaelicisation
in which his patronage of the Irish Céli Dé monastic reformers was a significant factor. During his reign the words "Scots" and "Scotland" (Old English
: Scottas, Scotland
) were first used to mean part of what is now Scotland
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Mary of Teck was the queen consort of King George V as well as the Empress of India. Before her accession, she was successively Duchess of York, Duchess of Cornwall and Princess of Wales. By birth, she was a princess of Teck, in the Kingdom of Württemberg, with the style Her Serene Highness. To her family, she was informally known as May, after her birth month. Queen Mary was known for setting the tone of the British Royal Family, as a model of regal formality and propriety, especially during state occasions. She was the first Queen Consort to attend the coronation of her successors. Noted for superbly bejewelling herself for formal events, Queen Mary left a collection of jewels now considered priceless.
The monarchy of the United Kingdom
is the constitutional monarchy
of the United Kingdom
, its dependencies
and its overseas territories
. The current monarch and head of state
, Queen Elizabeth II
, ascended the throne on the death of her father, King George VI
, on 6 February 1952. The monarch and his or her immediate family
undertake various official, ceremonial, diplomatic and representational duties. As the monarchy is constitutional, the monarch is limited to non-partisan functions such as bestowing honours
and appointing the Prime Minister
. The monarch is commander-in-chief of the British Armed Forces
. Though the ultimate formal executive authority over the government of the United Kingdom is still by and through the monarch's royal prerogative
, these powers may only be used according to laws enacted in Parliament and, in practice, within the constraints of convention and precedent
.The British monarchy traces its origins from the petty kingdoms
of early medieval Scotland
and Anglo-Saxon England
, which consolidated into the kingdoms of England
by the 10th century AD. In 1066, the last crowned Anglo-Saxon
monarch, Harold Godwinson
, was defeated and killed
during the Norman conquest of England
and the English monarchy passed to the Normans' victorious leader, William the Conqueror
, and his descendants.
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