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A monarch is the person who heads a monarchy, a form of government in which the country or entity usually ruled or controlled by an individual who usually rules for life or until abdication. Monarchs may be autocrats (absolute monarchy) or may be ceremonial heads of state who exercise little or no power or only reserve power, with actual authority vested in a parliament or other body (constitutional monarchy).

Most states only have a single monarch at any given time, although a regent may rule when the monarch is a minor, not present or debilitated. Two monarchs have ruled simultaneously in some countries, as in the ancient Greek city-state of Spartamarker or the joint sovereignty of spouses or relatives (eg. William and Mary of Kingdom of England and Scotland, Peter and Ivan of Russiamarker, Charles and Joanna of Castile, etc).

Monarchs have various titles — king or queen, prince or princess (eg. Sovereign Prince of Monaco), emperor or empress (eg. Emperor of Japan, Emperor of India), Shah of Iran), or even duke or grand duke (eg. Grand Duke of Luxembourg). Many monarchs are distinguished by titles and styles. They often take part in certain ceremonies, such as a coronation.

Monarchy are associated with political or sociocultural in nature hereditary rule; most monarchs, both historically and in the modern day, have been born and brought up within a royal family (over a period of time called a dynasty) and trained for future duties. Different systems of succession have been used, such as proximity of blood, primogeniture, and agnatic seniority (Salic law). While traditionally most monarch have been male, female monarchs have also ruled in history; the term queen regnant refers to a ruling monarch, while a queen consort refers to the wife of a reigning king.

Some monarchies are non-hereditary. In an elective monarchy, the monarch is elected but otherwise serves as any other monarch. Historical examples of elective monarchy include the Holy Roman Emperors (chosen by prince-electors but often coming from the same dynasty) and the free election of kings of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. Modern examples include the Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysiamarker and the pope of the Roman Catholic Church, who serves as Sovereign of the Vatican City Statemarker and is elected to a life term by the College of Cardinals.

Monarchies have existed throughout the world, although in recent centuries many states have abolished the monarchy and becomes republics. Advocacy of republics is called republicanism, while advocacy of monarchies is called monarchism. The principal advantage of hereditary monarchy is the immediate continuity of leadership, with a usually short interregnum (as seen in the classic phrase "The King is dead. Long live the King!").

Form of government may be hereditary without being considered monarchy, such as family dictatorship or political families present in many democracies.


The word monarch ( ) comes from the Greek μόναρχος (from μόνος, one, singular and ἀρχός, leader, guide, chief) which referred to a single, at least nominally absolute ruler. With time, the word has been succeeded in this meaning by others, such as autocrat or dictator. In modern usage the word monarch is generally used when referring to a traditional system of hereditary rulership, with elective monarchies often considered as exceptions.


A particular case is the French co-prince of Andorramarker, a position held by the elected President of France. Nonetheless, he is still generally considered a monarch because of the traditional use of a monarchical title (even though Andorra is, strictly speaking, a diarchy.) Similarly, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysiamarker is considered a monarch despite only holding the office for five years at a time. On the other hand, several life-time dictators around the world have not been formally classified as monarchs, but that may be more to do with international political sensitivities than with semantics.


Hereditary succession within one family has been most common. The usual hereditary succession is based on some cognatic principles and on seniority, though sometimes merit has played a part. Thus, the most common hereditary system in feudal Europe was based on cognatic primogeniture, where a lord was succeeded by his eldest son, and failing sons, by either daughters or by sons of daughters. The system of tanistry was semi-elective and gave weight also to merits and capability.

The Quasi-Salic succession provided firstly for male members of the family to succeed, and secondarily males descended from female lines. In most feudal fiefs, females (such as daughters and sisters) were allowed to succeed, should the male line fail, but usually the husband of the heiress became the real lord and most often also received the title, jure uxoris. Great Britain and Spain today continue this model of succession law, in the form of cognatic primogeniture. In more complex medieval cases, the sometimes conflicting principles of proximity and primogeniture battled, and outcomes were often idiosyncratic.

As the average life span among the nobility increased (thanks to lords limiting their personal participation in dangerous battles, and generally improved sustenance and living conditions among the wealthy), an eldest son was more likely to reach majority age before the death of his father, and primogeniture became increasingly favoured over proximity, tanistry, seniority and election.

Later, when lands were strictly divided among noble families and tended to remain fixed, agnatic primogeniture (practically the same as Salic Law) became more usual: the succession would go to the eldest son of the monarch, or, if the monarch had no sons, the throne would pass to the nearest male relative through the male line, to the total exclusion of females.

In some countries however, inheritance through the female line was never wholly abandoned, so that if the monarch had no sons, the throne would pass to the eldest daughter and to her posterity. (This, cognatic primogeniture, was the rule that let Elizabeth II become Queen.)

In 1980, Swedenmarker became the first monarchy to declare equal primogeniture or full cognatic primogeniture, meaning that the eldest child of the monarch, whether female or male, ascends to the throne. Other kingdoms (the Netherlandsmarker in 1983, Norwaymarker in 1990, and Belgiummarker in 1991) have since followed suit.

In some monarchies, such as Saudi Arabiamarker, succession to the throne usually first passes to the monarch's next eldest brother, and only after that to the monarch's children (agnatic seniority). In some other monarchies (e.g. Jordanmarker), the monarch chooses who will be his successor, who need not necessarily be his eldest son.


Monarchs in Africa

A series of Pharaohs ruled Ancient Egypt over the course of three millennia (circa 3150 BC to 31 BC) until it was conquered by the Roman Empire. In the same time period, several kingdoms flourished in the nearby Nubia region.

Central Africa hosted the Kanem Empire (700 - 1376).

In East Africa, the Aksumite Empire and later the Ethiopian Empire (1270-1974) were ruled by a series of monarchs. Haile Selassie, the last Emperor of Ethiopia, was deposed in a communist coup.

Southern Africa was isolated from other cultures until the modern era, but did later feature kingdoms like the Kingdom of Kongo (1400 – 1914).

As part of the Scramble for Africa, Europeans conquered, bought, or established African kingdoms and styled themselves as a monarch.

Currently, the African nation of Moroccomarker is a monarchy.

Monarchs in Europe

Prince was a common title within the Holy Roman Empire, along with a number of higher titles listed below. Such titles were granted by the Emperor, while the titulation of rulers of sovereign states was generally left to their own discretion, most often choosing King or Queen. Such titulations could cause diplomatic problems, and especially the elevation to Emperor or Empress was seen as an offensive action. During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries most small monarchies in Europe disappeared, merging to form larger entities, and so King the most common title for male rulers and Queen has become the most common title today for female rulers.

Today in Europe, there are seven kingdom, one grand duchy, one duchy , one papacy, and three principalities (Liechtensteinmarker, Walesmarker and Monacomarker), excluding the peculiar case of Andorramarker (whose princes are the current Bishop of Urgellmarker and President of France), and one "Lord of Mann" — the title for the monarch of Isle of Manmarker.

Monarchs in Asia

In China, "king" is the usual translation for the term wang 王, the sovereign before the Qin dynasty and during the Ten Kingdoms period. During the early Han dynasty, China had a number of small kingdoms, each about the size of a county and subordinate to the Empress or Emperor of China.

The Japanese monarchy is now the only monarchy to still use the title of Emperor. Till 1979, Iran was ruled by an Emperor that used the title of "Shahanshah" (or "King of Kings" in Persian).Thailandmarker is currently still a monarchy ruled by a king. Saudi Arabiamarker and parts of the United Arab Emiratesmarker, such as Dubaimarker, are still ruled by monarchs. The Kingdom of Jordan is one of the Middle East's more modern monarchies. Nepalmarker abolished their monarchy in 2008.

Monarchs in the Americas

The concept of monarchy existed in the Americas long before the arrival of European colonialists. When the Europeans arrived they referred to these tracts of land within territories of different aboriginal groups to be kingdoms, and the leaders of these groups were often referred to by the Europeans as Kings, particularly hereditary leaders. Many of the leaders were queens, but this was not understood by the Europeans, who had no knowledge of the indigenous history or languages, much less an understanding of matrilineality

Pre-colonial titles that were used included:

The first local monarch to emerge in North America after colonization was Augustin I, who declared himself Emperor of Mexico in 1822. Mexico again had an emperor, Maximilian I from 1863 to 1867. In South America, Brazil had a Portuguese royal house ruling as emperor between 1822 and 1889, under Emperors Pedro I and Pedro II.

These American emperors were deposed due to complex issues, including pressure from the highly republican United Statesmarker, which had declared itself independent of the British monarch in 1776. The British, worried about U.S. colonial expansion, invasion following the American Civil War, and the fact that the U.S. had aided the Mexican republican rebels in overthrowing Maximilian I, pushed for the union of the Canadian provinces into a country in 1867. With Confederation, Canada became a self-governing nation which was considered a kingdom in its own right, though it remained subordinate to the United Kingdommarker; thus, Victoria was monarch of Canada, but not sovereign of it. It was not until the passing of the Statute of Westminster that Canada was considered to be under a distinct Canadian Crown, separate to that the British, and not until 1953 that the Canadian monarch, at the time Elizabeth II, was titled by Canadian law as Queen of Canada.

Between 1931 and 1983 nine other previous British colonies attained independence as kingdoms, all, including Canada, in a personal union relationship under a shared monarch. Therefore, though today there are legally ten American monarchs, one person occupies each distinct position.

Male Title Female Title Realm Latin Examples
Emperor Empress Empire Imperator (Imperatrix) Brazilmarker, Mexico, Sapa Inca
King Queen Kingdom Rex (Regina) Canadamarker, Jamaicamarker, Barbadosmarker, the Bahamasmarker, Grenadamarker, Saint Luciamarker, Saint Vincent and the Grenadinesmarker, Antigua and Barbudamarker, Belizemarker, Saint Kitts and Nevismarker


The normal monarch title in Europe — i.e., the one used if the monarch has no higher title — is prince or princess, by convention. As an absolute ruler, a monarch can choose a title. However, titles are usually defined by tradition and diplomatic considerations.

Note that some of these titles have several meanings and do not necessarily designate a monarch. A Prince may be a person of royal blood (some languages uphold this distinction, see Fürst). A Duke may be a Britishmarker peer. In Imperial Russiamarker, a Grand Duke was a son or grandson of the Tsar or Tsarina. Holders of titles in these alternative meanings did not enjoy the same status as the monarchs of the same title.

Within the Holy Roman Empire, there were even more titles that were used occasionally for monarchs although they were normally noble; Margrave, Count Palatine, and Landgrave. A monarch with such a low title still was regarded as more important than a noble Duke.

Male version Female version Realm

Adjective Latin Examples
Emperor Empress Empire imperial Imperator (Imperatrix) Roman Empire, Byzantine Empire, Ottoman Empire, Holy Roman Empire, Russiamarker , First and Second French Empiremarker, Austriamarker, Mexico, Brazilmarker, German Empiremarker (none left in Europe after 1918), Empress of India (ceased to be used after 1947 when Indiamarker was granted independence from the British Empire), Japanmarker (the only remaining enthroned emperor in the world).
King Queen Kingdom royal Rex (Regina) Common in larger sovereign states
Viceroy Vicereine Viceroyalty viceroyal Proconsul Historical: Spanishmarker Empire (Peru, New Spain, Rio de la Plata, New Granada), Portuguesemarker Empire, (India, Brazilmarker), Britishmarker Empire
Grand Duke Grand Duchess Grand duchy Grand Ducal Magnus Dux Today: Luxembourgmarker; historical: Lithuaniamarker, Baden, Finland, Tuscany et al.
Archduke Archduchess Archduchy archducal Arci Dux Historical: Unique only in Austriamarker, Archduchy of Austriamarker; title used for member of the Habsburg dynasty
Prince Princess Principality, Princely state princely Princeps Today: Monacomarker, Liechtensteinmarker, Walesmarker; Andorramarker (Co-Princes). Historical: Albaniamarker, Serbiamarker
Duke Duchess Duchy ducal Dux There are none left currently. Though historical examples include Normandy.
Count Countess County countly, comital Comes Most common in the Holy Roman Empire, translated in German as Graf; historical: Barcelona, Brandenburg, Baden, numerous others
Baron Baroness Barony Baronial Baro There are normal baronies and sovereign baronies, a sovereign barony can be compared with a principality, however, this is an historical exception; sovereign barons no longer have a sovereign barony, but only the title and style
Pope Females cannot hold the office of Pope Papacy papal Papa Monarch of the Papal Statesmarker and later Sovereign of the State of Vatican Citymarker

The pope is the Bishop of Rome (a celibate office always forbidden to women), in English however, reports of female popes such as (Pope Joan) refer to them as pope and Popess is used, among other things, for the second trump in the Tarot deck; some European languages also have a feminine form of the word pope, such as the Italian papessa, the French papesse, and the German Päpstin

Titles by region

When a difference exists below, male titles are placed to the left and female titles are placed to the right of the slash.

Region Title Description and use
Africa Almami Fulani people of west Africa
Asantehene Ashanti, title of the King of the Ashanti People in Ghanamarker
Chieftain Leader of a people
Eze Igbo people of Nigeriamarker
Kabaka Baganda people of Buganda in Uganda
Negus Ethiopiamarker
Oba Yoruba people of Nigeriamarker
Omukama Bunyoro, title of some kings in Uganda
Tutsi Mwami Kings of Rwandamarker and Burundimarker
Arasan/Arasi Tamil Nadumarker(India), Sri Lankamarker
Chakrawarti Raja Indiamarker Sri Lankamarker
Chogyal "Divine Ruler"; ruled Sikkim until 1975
Datu pre-colonial Philippines
Druk Gyalpo Hereditary title given to the king of Bhutanmarker
Emperor of China
Engku or Ungku Malaysiamarker, to denote particular family lineage akin to royalty
Hari Filipino title for king
Huángdì Imperial China Emperor
Hwangje States that unified Korea
Maha Raja Used in Indiamarker and Sri Lankamarker
Meurah Title used in Acehmarker before Islam

Emperor of Iranmarker or Hindustan (Indiamarker)
Preah Karuna Preah Bat Sâmdech Preah Bâromneath King of Cambodia Khmer , the title literally means "The feet of the Greatest Lord who is on the heads (of his subjects)" (This royal title doesn't refer directly to the king himself but to his feet, according to traditions).
Patabenda Sub- king Sri lankamarker
Phrabat Somdej Phrachaoyuhua King of Thailand (Siam), the title literally means "The feet of the Greatest Lord who is on the heads (of his subjects)" (This royal title doesn't refer directly to the king himself but to his feet, according to traditions.)
Qaghan Central Asian Tribes
Racha Thailand same meaning as Raja
Raja Malaysiamarker, Raja denotes royalty in Perak and certain Selangor royal family lineages, is roughly equivalent to Prince or Princess.
Raja Nepal King
Raja pre-colonial Philippines
Rani Nepali Queen
Susuhunan or Sunan The Indonesian princely state of Surakarta.
Saopha Shan, king of Shan, today as a part of Myanmarmarker
Sayyid Honorific title given throughout the Islamic regions. Title given to males accepted as descendants of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Syed/Sharifah in Perlis if suffixed by the royal clan name, is roughly equivalent to Prince or Princess.
Shogun Japanese military dictator, always a Samurai
Sultan Acehmarker, Brunei Darussalammarker, Javamarker, Omanmarker, Malaysiamarker, Sultan is the title of seven (Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Pahang, Perak, Selangor, and Terengganu) of the nine rulers of the Malay states.
Sumeramikoto,Okimi Japan, king
Tengku Malaysiamarker, Tengku (also spelled Tunku in Johor, Negeri Sembilan and Kedah is roughly equivalent to Prince or Princess
Tennō or Mikado Japan
Veyndhan, ko/Arasi Tamil Nadumarker (India)
Wang Pre-Imperial China. In Chinamarker, "king" is the usual translation for the term wang 王.
Wang The king of Korea that control over all of Korea. It is called 'Im-Geum-nym' or 'Im-Geum'
Yang di-Pertuan Agong Monarch of Malaysia, elected each five years among the reigning Sultan of each Malaysian state
Arqa/Thagavor Armenian King
Autocrator Greek term for the Byzantine Emperor
Basileus Greek King
Despot Serbia (originating from Byzantium)
Medieval Romania (Moldovamarker, Wallachia)
Fejedelem Ancient/Medieval Hungarian
Germanic king
Giray Crimeanmarker King
High King of Ireland Also known as Rí, Rúirí, Rí Rúireach and Ard Rí. King, local overking, regional King, and High King in pre-Norman Irelandmarker
Imperator The Ruler of Imperial Russia
Kaiser Imperial Germany
Knyaz Kievan Rus'/Serbia. Generally translated as "prince."
Kralj Croatia, Serbia
Kunigaikshtis (Kunigaikštis) Lithuanianmarker, duke as in Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
Mbret Albanian King
Tsar/Tsaritsa Bulgaria, pre-imperial Russia, Serbia
Vezér Ancient Hungarian
Voivode Serbian/Hungarian/Romany Title
Župan Serbia, Croatia
Africa &
Pharaoh Ancient Egypt
Shah Persian/Iranian and Afghanistan King
Shahenshah Persianmarker/Iranianmarker "King of Kings" or Emperor
Sheikh Arabic leader, King or Prince (Bahrainmarker, Kuwaitmarker, Qatarmarker, UAEmarker)
Malik Arabic King, (Saudi Arabiamarker, Bahrainmarker, Jordanmarker, Moroccomarker)
Emir Arabic Prince, (Kuwaitmarker, Qatarmarker, UAEmarker)
Sultan/Sultana Arabic King (Omanmarker and Ottoman Empire)
Chieftain Leader of a tribe or clan.
Hou eiki, matai, ali i, tūlafale, tavana, ariki Usually translated as "chief" in various Polynesian countries.
Mo'i Normally translated as King, a title used by Hawaiian monarchs since unification in 1810. The last person to hold that title was Queen Lili'uokalani.
Tu i or Tui Kings in Oceania: Tongamarker, Wallis and Futunamarker, Nauru

Current monarchs

NOTE: The table comprises all sovereign monarchs of the world today, but is 'severely incomplete with regard to the non-sovereign monarchs.

Name Born Title Since Royal House Succession Heir
Azlan Shah 1928 Sultan of Perakmarker (in Malaysiamarker) 1984 Crown Prince Nazrin Shah
Bhumibol Adulyadej 1927 King of Thailandmarker 1946 Chakri Maha Vajiralongkorn
Elizabeth II 1926 Queen of Antigua and Barbudamarker
Queen of Australia
Queen of the Bahamasmarker
Queen of Barbadosmarker
Queen of Belizemarker
Queen of Canadamarker
Paramount Chief of Fijimarker
Queen of Grenadamarker
Queen of Jamaicamarker
Lord of the Isle of Mannmarker
Queen of New Zealandmarker
Duke of Normandy (Channel Islands)
Queen of Papua New Guineamarker
Queen of Saint Kitts and Nevismarker
Queen of Saint Luciamarker
Queen of Saint Vincent and the Grenadinesmarker
Queen of the Solomon Islandsmarker
Queen of Tuvalumarker
Queen of the United Kingdommarker



Windsor Cognatic primogeniture The Prince of Wales
Hassanal Bolkiah 1946 Sultan of Bruneimarker 1967 Bolkiah Agnatic primogeniture Crown Prince Al-Muhtadee Billah
Goodwill Zwelethini 1948 King of the Zulus (in South Africa) 1968
Qaboos 1940 Sultan of Omanmarker 1970 Sa'id Hereditary
Margrethe II 1940 Queen of Denmarkmarker 1972 Glucksburg Cognatic primogeniture Crown Prince Frederik
Carl XVI Gustaf 1946 King of Swedenmarker 1973 Bernadotte Equal primogeniture Crown Princess Victoria
Ahmad Shah 1930 Sultan of Pahangmarker (in Malaysiamarker) 1974 Hereditary Crown Prince Tengku Abdullah
Shaikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi 1949 Emir of Fujairahmarker (one of the United Arab Emiratesmarker) 1974 AL Sharqi Chosen by the Emir Sheikh Mohammed Bin Hamad Al Sharqi
Juan Carlos I 1938 King of Spainmarker 1975 Bourbon Cognatic primogeniture The Prince of Asturias
Ismail Petra 1949 Sultan of Kelantanmarker (in Malaysiamarker) 1979 Hereditary Crown Prince Tengku Faris Petra
Beatrix 1938 Queen of the Kingdom of the Netherlands 1980 Orange-Nassau Equal primogeniture The Prince of Orange
Muhammadu Kabir Usman Emir of Katsinamarker (in Nigeriamarker) 1981
Rashid ibn Ahmad Al Mu'alla 1930 Emir of Umm al-Qaiwainmarker (one of the United Arab Emiratesmarker) 1981
Iskandar 1932 Sultan of Johormarker (in Malaysiamarker) 1981 Hereditary Crown Prince Ibrahim Ismail
Humayd ibn Rashid Al Nuaimi 1931 Emir of Ajmanmarker (one of the United Arab Emiratesmarker) 1981
Mswati III 1968 King of Swazilandmarker 1986 Dlamini
Sultan ibn Muhammad Al-Qasimi 1939 Emir of Sharjahmarker (one of the United Arab Emiratesmarker) 1987
vacant Giacomo dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto acting 1929 Prince Great Master of the Sovereign Order of Malta 1988 Election by a council
Hans-Adam II 1945 Prince of Liechtensteinmarker 1989 Liechtenstein Agnatic-cognatic primogeniture Hereditary Prince Alois
Akihito 1933 Emperor of Japanmarker 1989 Agnatic primogeniture Crown Prince Naruhito
Harald V 1937 King of Norwaymarker 1991 Oldenburg Equal primogeniture Crown Prince Haakon
Muwenda Mutebi II 1955 King of Buganda (in Uganda) 1993
Albert II 1934 King of the Belgiansmarker 1993 Saxe-Coburg-Gotha Equal primogeniture The Duke of Brabant
Solomon Gafabusa Iguru 1949 King of Bunyoro-Kitara (in Uganda) 1994
Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani 1950 Emir of Qatarmarker 1995 Al-Thani Appointed from within Royal Family Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani
Letsie III 1963 King of Lesothomarker 1996 Seeiso Appointment by College of Chiefs
Abdullah II 1962 King of Jordanmarker 1999 Hashemite Choice by predecessor Prince Hussein
Mohammed VI 1963 King of Moroccomarker 1999 Alaouite Agnatic primogeniture Prince Moulay Hassan
Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin 1943 Raja of Perlismarker (in Malaysiamarker) 2000 Dynasty of Jamalullail Hereditary Crown Prince Tuanku Syed Faizzuddin.
Henri 1955 Grand Duke of Luxembourgmarker 2000 Bourbon-Parma Cognatic primogeniture Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume
Sharafuddin Idris Shah Al-Haj 1945 Sultan of Selangormarker (in Malaysiamarker) 2001 Hereditary Crown Prince Tengku Amir Shah.
Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifah 1950 King of Bahrainmarker 1999 Al-Khalifa Agnatic primogeniture Crown Prince Salman
Soane Patita Maituku 1947 King of Alomarker (in Wallis and Futunamarker, a French territory in the Pacific Ocean) 2002 Chosen by tribe commission
Joan Enric Vives Sicília 1949 Episcopal Co-prince of Andorramarker 2003 Appointed
Visesio Moeliku 1922 King of Sigavemarker (in Wallis and Futunamarker) 2004 Chosen by tribe commission
Norodom Sihamoni 1953 King of Cambodiamarker 2004 Norodom Election by 9-member "throne council"
Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan 1948 Emir of Abu Dhabimarker, President and Sheikh of United Arab Emiratesmarker 2004
Albert II 1958 Prince of Monacomarker 2005 Grimaldi Cognatic primogeniture Hereditary Princess Caroline
Benedict XVI 1927 Pope of the Catholic Church (Sovereign of the State of Vatican Citymarker) 2005 Election by College of Cardinals Election by College of Cardinals upon death
Abdullah Al Saud 1924 King of Saudi Arabiamarker 2005 Saud Election by family Crown Prince Sultan
Tuheitia Paki 1955 Māori King (in New Zealandmarker) 2006 Te Wherowhero Elected by participating tribal leaders
Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum 1949 Emir of Dubaimarker (one of the United Arab Emiratesmarker) 2006
Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah 1929 Emir of Kuwaitmarker 2006 Al-Sabah Appointment by Emir Sheikh Nawaf
George Tupou V 1948 King of Tongamarker 2006 Tupou Cognatic primogeniture 'Aho'eitu 'Unuaki'otonga Tuku'aho
Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck 1980 King of Bhutanmarker 2006 Cognatic primogeniture Jigyel Ugyen Wangchuck
Mizan Zainal Abidin 1962 Yang di-Pertuan Agong (King of Malaysiamarker) 2006 Election among local monarchs
Sultan of Terengganumarker (in Malaysiamarker) 1998 Hereditary

Use of titles by non-sovereigns

It is not uncommon that people who are not generally seen as monarchs nevertheless use monarchical titles. There are four cases of this:
  • Claiming an existing title, challenging the current holder. This has been very common historically. For centuries, the British monarch used, among his other titles, the title King of France, despite the fact that he had had no authority over French territory since the fifteenth century. Such as any one of the numerous antipopes who have claimed the Holy See.
  • Retaining the title of an extinct monarchy. This can be coupled with a claim that the monarchy was in fact never, or should never have been, extinct. An example of the first case is the Prince of Seborgamarker. Examples of the second case are several deposed monarchs or otherwise pretenders to thrones of abolished monarchies, e.g., Leka, Crown Prince of Albania who is styled by some as the "King of The Albanians." Retaining the title of an extinct monarchy can, however, be totally free of claims of sovereignty, for example it was customary of numerous European Monarchies to include "King of Jerusalem" in their full titles. When it comes to deposed monarchs, it is customary to continue the usage of their monarchical title (e.g., Constantine II, King of the Hellenes) as a courtesy title, not a constitutional office, for the duration of their lifetime. However the title then dies with them and cannot be used by anyone else unless the crown is restored constitutionally. Monarchs who have freely abdicated lose their right to use their former title. However where a monarch abdicated under duress (e.g., Michael I of Romania), it is customary to see the abdication as invalid and to treat them as deposed monarchs entitled to use their monarchical style for their lifetime.
  • Inventing a new title. This is common by founders of micronations, and also may or may not come with a claim of sovereignty. When it does, it is disregarded by state leaders. A notable example is Paddy Roy Bates, styling himself the "Prince of Sealand," but not recognized as such by any national government, thus failing at least the constitutive condition for statehood (see Sealandmarker for a fuller discussion of his claims).

See also


  1. SOU 1977:5 Kvinnlig tronföljd, p.16.
  2. The channel islands are all that remain of the Duchy of Normandy)
  3. Canada: History
  4. Ferguson, Will; The Lost Kingdom; Macleans, October 27, 2003
  5. The Four Indian Kings
  6. The Crown in Canada
  7. Prince of Wales is a courtesy title given to the eldest son (if there is one) of the King/Queen of Great Britain and Nthn Ireland — he is not a monarch in his own right

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