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A regent, from the Roman regens "one who reigns", is the informal or sometimes formal title given to a temporary, acting head of state in a monarchy. The Oxford English Dictionary defines the term as "A person appointed to administer a State because the Monarch is a minor, is absent or is incapacitated." If the regent is holding this temporary position due to his or her position in the line of succession and thus is a member of the royal house, the term used is often prince regent or princess regent. The time in office for a regent is often called a regency, a term also used for the constitutional rules providing for the temporary upholding of the position.
In a monarchy, a regent usually governs due to one of these reasons, but may also be elected to rule during the interregnum when the royal line has died out. This was the case in the Kingdom of Finland and the Kingdom of Hungary, where the royal line was considered extinct in the aftermath of World War I. In Iceland, the regent represented the King of Denmark as sovereign of Iceland until the country became a republic in 1944. In the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (1569–1795), kings were elective, which often led to a fairly long interregnum. In the interim, it was the Roman Catholic Primate (the Archbishop of Gniezno) who served as the regent, termed the "interrex" (Latin: ruler "between kings" as in ancient Rome). In the small republic of San Marino, the two Captains Regent, or Capitani Reggenti, are elected semi-annually (they serve a six-month term) as joint heads of state and of government.
It has been known throughout history that when a king is unable to reign or is out of the country for long periods of time, sometimes the consort will step up and will temporarily do the duties of a prince regent. Sometimes they are unofficially known as regents themselves. In the Kingdom of Swaziland, queen mothers have temporarily stepped in when the sovereign was either a minor or unable to reign for other reasons.
Other uses of the word
The term may be used in the governance of organisations. Some university managers in North America are called regents and a management board for a college or university may be titled the "Board of Regents". The term "regent" is also used for members of governing bodies of institutions, such as the national banks, in France and Belgium. Again in Belgium and France, (Régent in French, or in Dutch) Regent is the official title of a teacher in a lower secondary school (junior high school), who does not require a college degree but is trained in a specialized école normale (normal school). In the Philippines, specifically, the University of Santo Tomas, the Father Regent, who must be a Dominican priest and is often also a teacher, serves as the institution's spiritual head. They also form the Council of Regents that serves as the highest administrative council of the university.