Monarch – Concept, history and monarchs today

We explain what a monarch is and how its role has varied throughout history. Also, what monarchs exist today.

A monarch is a political leader for life and dynasties.

What is a monarch?

A monarch is the head of state of a monarchy, that is, to whoever holds the position of political leader of the State for life (for life) and dynastic (hereditary), using noble or aristocratic titles such as king or queen, prince or princess, emperor or empress, grand duke or grand Duchess (or their ancient equivalents: Tsar or Tsarina, Pharaoh, Khan, Inca, Caliph, Shah, among many others).

In fact, the very word “monarch” comes from the Greek monarkhes, made of monkey (“Unique”, or “only one”) and arkhés (“Principle or power”).

Monarchs are always the head of a monarchical system, and therefore there are as many types of monarch as there are different forms of monarchy. Some of them assign them important roles in the leadership of the State, while in others they are considered mostly representative figures, who exercise a symbolic role in patriotic or national discourses.

For much of history, monarchs played the role of autocratic rulers, that is to say, absolute, either by exercise of tyranny, or by having been installed on the throne as a reward for their political, religious and / or military feats.

Many monarchs were considered, in their respective nations, as emissaries of divinity, imposed by God himself as his representative on Earth. That is why they were crowned by priests or spiritual leaders (like the Pope in Medieval Europe).

Unlike other political leaders, monarchs They are not usually elected by popular vote, but chosen according to the line of succession (that is, the transmission of power according to blood relationship) or sometimes imposed by force after overthrowing another, since it is a charge for life. However, to occupy the royal throne usually required a noble origin.

There are, however, numerous cases of monarchs who abdicated the throne, that is, who renounce to exercise their power, or even some who, at present, are elected through democratic mechanisms.

Monarchs today

At the beginning of the 21st century, there are numerous monarchs both in Europe and in Asia, Africa and Oceania. Some of them are:

  • Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom (1926-), British monarch, sovereign of sixteen independent states that constitute the British Commonwealth of Nations: United Kingdom (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland), Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize, Antigua and Barbuda, and Saint Kitts and Nevis.
  • Felipe VI of Spain (1968-), Spanish monarch, that is, current King of Spain, proclaimed in 2014 after the abdication of his father, Juan Carlos I.
  • Hiro-no-miya Naruhito Shinno (1960-), Emperor of Japan, is the 126th monarch to occupy the Chrysanthemum Throne, after the abdication of his father in 2019. His consort is Empress Masako Owada (1963-).
  • Mohamed IV of Morocco (1963-), full name Sidi Mohammed ben [el-] Hasan ben Mohammed ben Yusef [el-] Alawi, is the current Moroccan king, whose accession to the throne occurred after the death of his father, Hasan II, in 1999.
  • Tamim bin Hamad Al Zani (1980-), sheikh and current emir of Qatar, belonging to the Al Thani dynasty. He ascended to the throne after his father, Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, abdicated the leadership of the Qatari state in 2013.
  • Vaaletoa Sualavi II (1947-), Samoan head of state, a position designated as Either you Ao or you Bad in Samoan. A member of the Taua’ana dynasty, he also holds the titles of Tui A’ana and Tama’aiga.