Constitutional monarchy

A Constitutional Monarchy is a form of government, in which a king or queen is the official head of state, although their powers are limited by a constitution and often lack much real power, as the legislative branch is the primary governing body. A constitutional monarchy differs from an absoloute monarchy in that in an absolute monarchy the monarch is able to rule with unchecked power, and are able to change the laws at their whim.


Constitutional Monarchy first emerged in England. Initally the British monarchy was absolute, however, the nobility under King John felt that the king had abused his power, and had forced him to sign a document called the Magna Carta.[1] This document limited the powers of the king and made and made him somewhat responsible for the wellbeing of his subjects. The document, however was more focused on maintaining the ability of the nobles to have a say in what the king did.

Contemporary constitutional monarchies include the United Kingdom and Commonwealth realms, Belgium, Bhutan, Bahrain, Cambodia, Denmark, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Liechtenstein, Lesotho, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Monaco, Morocco, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Swaziland, Sweden, and Laos.

List of current reigning monarchies

The following is a list of reigning monarchies. Except where noted, monarch selection is hereditary as directed by the state's constitution.

State Last constitution established Type of monarchy Monarch selection
23x15px Antigua and Barbuda 1981 Kingdom Hereditary succession.
23x15px Andorra 1993 Co-Principality Selection of Bishop of La Seu d'Urgell and election of French President
23x15px Australia 1901 Constitutional Monarchy and Parliamentary Democracy. Hereditary succession.
23x15px The Bahamas 1973 Kingdom Hereditary succession.
23x15px Barbados 1966 Kingdom Hereditary succession.
23x15px Bahrain 2002 Kingdom Hereditary succession
23x15px Belgium 1831 Kingdom; popular monarchy[2] Hereditary succession
23x15px Belize 1981 Kingdom Hereditary succession.
23x15px Bhutan 2007 Kingdom Hereditary succession.
23x15px Cambodia 1993 Elective monarchy; Kingdom Chosen by throne council
23x15px Canada 1867 (last updated 1982) Constitutional Monarchy and Federal Parliamentary Democracy. Hereditary succession.
23x15px Denmark 1953 Kingdom Hereditary succession
23x15px Greenland 2009 Parliamentary Democracy and Constitutional Monarchy. Hereditary succession.
23x15px Grenada 1974 Kingdom Hereditary succession.
23x15px Jamaica 1962 Kingdom Hereditary succession.
23x15px Japan 1946 Empire Hereditary succession
23x15px Jordan 1952 Kingdom
23x15px Kuwait 1962 Emirate Hereditary succession, with directed approval of the House of Al-Sabah and majority of National Assembly
23x15px Lesotho 1993 Kingdom Hereditary succession directed approval of College of Chiefs[source?]
23x15px Liechtenstein 1862 Principality
23x15px Luxembourg 1868 Grand duchy
23x15px Malaysia 1957 Elective monarchy; Federal monarchy Selected from nine hereditary Sultans of the Malay states
23x15px Monaco 1911 Kingdom
23x15px Morocco 1666 Kingdom
23x15px Netherlands 1815 Kingdom
23x15px Norway 1814 Kingdom
23x15px New Zealand 1907 Constitutional Monarchy and Parliamentary Democracy. Hereditary succession.
23x15px Papua New Guinea 1975 Kingdom Hereditary succession.
23x15px Saint Kitts and Nevis 1983 Kingdom Hereditary succession.
23x15px Saint Lucia 1979 Kingdom Hereditary succession.
23x15px Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 1979 Kingdom Hereditary succession.
23x15px Solomon Islands 1978 Kingdom Hereditary succession.
23x15px Spain 1978 Kingdom
23x15px Swaziland 1968 Kingdom; Mixture of absolute and constitutional monarchy Hereditary succession
23x15px Sweden 1974 Kingdom Switched from semi-constitutional monarchy to constitutional monarchy
23x15px Thailand 2007 Kingdom
23x15px Tonga 1970 Kingdom
23x15px Tuvalu 1978 Kingdom Hereditary succession.
23x15px United Arab Emirates 1971 Federal Union of Emirates
Elective monarchy
President elected by the seven absolute monarchs of the Federal Supreme Council
23x15px United Kingdom 1688 Constitutional Monarchy and Parliamentary Democracy. Hereditary succession.


  1. "English translation of Magna Carta". The British Library. Retrieved 2018-05-24.
  2. Belgium is the only existing popular monarchy — a system in which the monarch's title is linked to the people rather than a state. The title of Belgian kings is not King of Belgium, but instead King of the Belgians. Another unique feature of the Belgian system is that the new monarch does not automatically assume the throne at the death or abdication of his predecessor; he only becomes monarch upon taking a constitutional oath.
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