Visualizing the Oldest Active Monarchies in The World



ancient Europe

Monarchy is a type of governance in which executive power is vested in a single person, who normally rules for life. Typically, monarchies are hereditary, meaning that the position is passed down from one generation to the next. While the history of democracy as a form of governance begins in ancient Greece, the history of monarchy is even more ancient.

The rise of monarchical administration coincides with the Neolithic, or “agricultural revolution,” which began in the ancient Near East around 9000 B.C. Instead of roving freely as hunter-gatherers, humans began to cultivate crops and keep livestock, settling in villages and cities. Some researchers contend that the Neolithic societies of Europe were matriarchal and that patriarchy, or a male-dominated society, did not emerge until the tribes were wealthier. The widespread presence of Neolithic burial mounds and tombs in Europe indicates that someone in a position of power oversaw their construction.

Oftentimes, the kings of Dark Age and medieval Europe were skilled military commanders, but they did not possess ultimate power over their own territories. They lacked a large bureaucracy to implement their agenda and frequently had to deal with a powerful church and nobles. Louis XIV, also known as “The Sun King,” reigned France from 1643 to 1715 and created a new type of government known as absolute monarchy. He frequently declared, “The state is me,” signifying that no one could oppose his authority. In the late 1700s, a succession of democratic upheavals, such as the American and French revolutions, swept the globe and indicated the demise of monarchical government, possibly as a reaction to absolutism.

Until the twentieth century, monarchies were the predominant type of governance. There are currently forty-four sovereign nations in the world, including sixteen Commonwealth territories that share Elizabeth II as their head of state. In addition, a variety of subnational monarchical entities exist. Similar to the heads of state in a parliamentary republic, modern monarchs tend to be constitutional monarchy in which the monarch retains a distinct legal and ceremonial function while exerting limited or no political power.

Types and Features of Monarchy

Absolute monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the monarch has absolute control over the state and government, including the authority to rule by decree, issue laws, and enforce punishments.

Constitutional monarchy. In this sort of monarchy, the monarch’s authority is limited by the constitution. In the majority of modern constitutional monarchy, the monarch serves primarily as a ceremonial figurehead representing national unity and state continuity. Although nominally sovereign, the electorate exercises political sovereignty (via the legislature). The political power of constitutional rulers is restricted. Typical monarchical powers include the ability to issue pardons and honors, as well as reserve powers, such as the ability to fire the prime minister, refuse to dissolve parliament, or veto legislation. Frequently, they also enjoy inviolability and sovereign immunity. The monarch’s authority and influence will be determined by custom, precedent, public opinion, and the law.

A non-sovereign monarchy is one in which the monarch is subject to a superior temporal authority. Some are reliant on other authorities.

Hereditary monarchies are a type of monarchy in which the post of king is inherited according to a statutory or customary sequence of succession, typically within a single royal family deriving from a historical dynasty or lineage. To guarantee a seamless succession, the successor to the throne is typically recognized long in advance of becoming monarch.

Elective Monarchies are a form of monarchy in which kings are elected or appointed by someone (an electoral college) for life or a specified period, but then rule as any other monarch. In elective monarchies, there is no popular vote because the elective body often comprises of a small number of eligible individuals. Historical instances of elective monarchy include the Holy Roman Emperors (selected by prince-electors although frequently descended from the same dynasty) and the free election of monarchs in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. For instance, Pepin the Short (Charlemagne’s father) was elected King of the Franks by an assembly of Frankish nobles; Stanisaw August Poniatowski of Poland and Frederick I of Denmark were also elected kings. Additionally, Germanic peoples had elected monarchy.

Visualizing the Oldest Active Monarchies in The World

Name of Monarchy


Establishment Date

Type of Monarchy

Current Population

British Monarchy

United Kingdom


Constitutional Monarchy


Kingdom of Morocco



Constitutional monarchy


Sultanate of Oman



Absolute monarchy


Kingdom of Cambodia


68 AD

Elective monarchy


Imperial House of Japan


660 BC

Hereditary monarchy


Monarchy of Sweden



Constitutional monarchy


Monarchy of Norway



Constitutional monarchy


Monarchy of Denmark



Constitutional monarchy



There have been about 61 rulers of England and Britain over the past 1200 years. Monarchs of England and Wales, House of Lancaster, House of York, The Tudors, The Stuarts, The Commonwealth, The Restoration, The Hanoverians, House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, and House of Windsor.

The current monarch of the British Monarchy is ELIZABETH II. Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, or “Lilibet” to her close family, was born on April 21, 1926 in London. Elizabeth, like her parents, was highly involved in the war effort during the Second World War. She served in the Auxiliary Territorial Service of the British Army, training as a driver and mechanic. Elizabeth and her sister Margaret celebrated the conclusion of World War II incognito on the busy streets of London on VE Day. Charles, Anne, Andrew, and Edward were their four children from their union together. Elizabeth became Queen of seven Commonwealth countries upon the death of her father, George VI: The United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan, and Ceylon (now known as Sri Lanka). Elizabeth’s 1953 coronation was the first to be televised, increasing the medium’s popularity and doubling the number of television licenses in the United Kingdom. The immense popularity of the 2011 royal wedding between the grandson of the Queen, Prince William, and a commoner, Kate Middleton, who are now the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, showed the prominence of the British Monarchy at home and internationally. The nation celebrated the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, marking her 60th year as monarch, in 2012. [1]

Elizabeth became Britain’s longest reigning monarch on September 9, 2015, surpassing her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria’s reign of 63 years and 216 days.

The monarchy of the United Kingdom, sometimes known as the British monarchy, is the constitutional form of government under which a hereditary sovereign reigns as the head of state of the United Kingdom, the Crown dependencies (Guernsey, Jersey, and the Isle of Man), and the British Overseas Territories. The king and their immediate family carry out a variety of official, ceremonial, diplomatic, and representational responsibilities. Due to the constitutional nature of the monarchy, the king is limited to non-partisan responsibilities such as granting honors and selecting the prime minister. The Head of the Royal Family also holds the position of Chief Commander of the British Armed Forces. Although the ultimate executive authority over the government is still technically vested in the royal prerogative, these powers may only be exercised in accordance with legislation established by Parliament and within the restrictions of convention and tradition.

Prerogative powers are those that have been vested in the king since the Middle Ages, but are now primarily exercised by government ministers. The most essential functions held by ministers include the ability to declare war and deploy the armed forces, conduct foreign policy and negotiate treaties, appoint public and judicial officials, issue passports, and give pardons and decorations.

However, the Queen continues to execute some prerogative powers herself, referred to as her reserve powers or personal prerogatives.


Morocco is a constitutional monarchy with two houses of parliament. According to the 2011 constitution, political authority in Morocco is to be shared between the hereditary monarch and an elected bicameral parliament consisting of the House of Councilors and the House of Representatives. A prime minister presides over the cabinet, which comprises the executive branch.

Despite the existence of a constitution, a legislature, and a number of active political parties, the monarch retains extensive political authority, promulgating legislation, selecting the prime minister from the largest party in parliament, and approving government appointments. He possesses total control over religious matters, the military, and national security policies.

In July 2011, Moroccans ratified a new constitution suggested by King Mohammed VI. The new constitution increased the authority of the parliament and the prime minister, but left the king with extensive control over all departments of government.

Numerous dynasties governed the kingdom of Morocco. The initial dynasty was the Idrissid, and the current dynasty is the Alao uite, governed by King Muammad VI, originally Crown Prince Sd Muammad, with the original name Muammad ibn al-asan. On July 23, 1999, hours after the death of his father, Muammad ascended to the kingdom as Muammad VI. Thus, the new king joined two other youthful rulers of the Arab world—King Abdullah II of Jordan, a personal acquaintance, and Sheikh amad ibn s l Khalfah of Bahrain—both of whom had assumed power in 1999 following the deaths of their fathers. [2]

Hassan II, who governed Morocco for 38 years, was widely regarded as a moderating force among Arab nations and in Arab-Western relations. His death and his son’s accession to the throne were viewed as part of a trend of intergenerational power transfer in several Arab and Middle Eastern nations. The transfer from the authority of Hassan II to that of Muhammad VI was smooth and incident-free, and the new king continued his father’s reputation of moderation.


sultan of Oman

The Sultanate of Oman, located in the southwestern portion of the Arabian Peninsula, occupies a vital location in the Arabian Gulf. Rich and diversified, Oman is home to a proud and patriotic population. Oman’s topography extends from the rough terrain of Ruus al Jibal in the north to the diverse climate of Dhofar, which produces lush green foliage during the monsoon season.

The Sultanate of Oman is a hereditary monarchy with a population of around 3.3 million, one million of whom are foreign nationals. Since 1970, Sultan Qaboos al-Said has ruled. The sultan has the sole authority to amend the country’s laws by royal decree, despite the fact that ministries draft laws and citizens provide input through the 84-member Majlis al-Shura (Consultative Council), an elected advisory body. In 2007, roughly 245,000 registered voters took part in generally free and fair elections for all council seats. Majlis al-Dawla (State Council), whose 71 members are nominated by the sultan, and Majlis al-Shura examine legislation, provide policy recommendations, and conduct public policy research. The 32-member cabinet of ministers provides the sultan with advice regarding government decisions.

The hereditary sultan is the head of both the government and the state. Sultan Qaboos, who picks the government, is also the supreme commander of the armed forces, the prime minister, the president of the central bank, and the minister of defense, foreign affairs, and finance. Sultan Qaboos has no direct heir and has not appointed a successor in an official capacity. If the reigning family is unable to unanimously designate a new sultan within three days of his death, a letter with the late ruler’s preferences will be opened. While political parties are prohibited, Oman has implemented a number of elements of a constitutional monarchy. The country has a bicameral legislature consisting of an appointed Majlis al-Dawla (Council of State), a consultative body, and a partially elected Majlis al-Shoura (Consultative Assembly). [3]


Cambodia is officially a monarchy. The royal lineage dates back to the splendor of the Angkor empire in the 13th century. Historically, the king has been considered as a god-king. From the great kings of Angkor to the current royal family, French scholars have traced a direct lineage. Currently, the king is a constitutional monarch with little actual powers but considerable political sway.

Particularly among elder Cambodians, the monarchy is a defining institution. Cambodia is a constitutional monarchy (the King reigns but does not rule), akin to the United Kingdom under Queen Elizabeth II. In accordance with Cambodia’s constitution, the King is the formal Head of State and a symbol of national unity and “eternity.” [4]

The monarchy of the country is an elected monarchy. This means that the King cannot nominate his heirs to the throne; instead, the Crown Council elects the head of state. The Crown Council consists of the presidents and vice presidents of parliament, the prime minister, and the supreme patriarchs of Buddhism’s Mahanikaya and Dhammayutikanikaya ecclesiastical orders.

A contender for the position of King must satisfy specific requirements. They must be at least 30 years old and descended from King Ang Duong, King Norodom, or King Sisowath. 6 The only description of the bloodlines of the three Kings was compiled in 1923 by Minister of the Royal Palace Samdach Chaufea Thiounn.

Norodom Sihamoni is the current ruler of Cambodia. Born on May 14, 1953 His official title is “His Majesty, King Norodom Sihamoni of the Kingdom of Cambodia” The former King Norodom Sihanouk and his seventh wife, Queen Monineath, are the parents of King Sihamoni. The throne council named him King on October 14, 2004, seven days after his father abdicated the crown due to bad health.

King Norodom Sihamoni has spent a greater portion of his life living outside Cambodia than in it. Until 1975, he studied classical dance and music in what is now the Czech Republic. During his brief trip to Cambodia from 1977 and 1981, the Khmer Rouge had him and his father under house arrest.

The King of Cambodia appoints the Prime Minister and Ministerial Council, and also serves as the Supreme Commander of the Royal Khmer Armed Forces. A Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Khmer Armed Military is appointed by the King, who then leads the forces. In reality, the King possesses little political or military authority.

Many of the King’s responsibilities are ceremonial, such as attending festivals across the nation to celebrate some of Cambodia’s 23 public holidays. In addition to fostering and maintaining connections with other monarchs and ambassadors, the King represents Cambodia in the world community. However, the King also plays a vital role as the symbol of the Cambodian people. [5]

Imperial House of Japan

traditional Japanese

The Imperial House, often known as the Imperial Family, consists of those members of the Emperor of Japan’s extended family who perform official and public obligations. The Emperor is the emblem of the State and the unification of the people.

Over the past 2,600 years, the same family has ruled Japan. As the world’s oldest continuous hereditary dynasty — frequently revered for its connection to Shinto gods — the Japanese monarchy has existed since approximately 660 B.C., and physical proof of its reign dates back to approximately 300 A.D. Currently, the Imperial House of Japan has no governmental or military authority within the Japanese state. Nevertheless, the monarchy has traditional value despite lacking official political authority.

Emperor Jimmu, who purportedly founded his reign in 660 B.C. after fighting with local chieftains, established the Japanese monarchy. However, Jimmu is primarily regarded as a legendary and symbolic character. Scholars say that Jimmu, a descendant of the sun goddess, symbolizes the development of Yayoi culture, Japan’s earliest rice producers, in the Yamato region. The date of Jimmu’s accession, February 11, is recognized as National Foundation Day. [6]

As the aristocratic samurai class grew in Japan beginning in the 10th century A.D., the monarchy’s influence decreased, in part because hereditary emperors were unable to rule from Kyoto, the traditional seat of the monarchy. During the Meiji Restoration in 1868, Emperor Meiji relocated the throne to Tokyo, the shogunate was abolished, and monarchs began to govern over a more centralized state. The emperor of Japan had transitioned from a mostly symbolic position to one of direct imperial authority.

In the aftermath of World War II, the United States compelled Emperor Hirohito, in whose name Japan had fought against the Allies, to relinquish all divine ties. Hirohito also helped legitimize Japan’s new 1947 constitution, which dissolved the Japanese nobility, rejected the concept of imperial expansion, and established the emperor as a symbolic figure in Japanese law.

A succession law that forbids female relatives from inheriting the throne threatens the Imperial Family of Japan, which today consists of only 18 individuals. Emperor Akihito, son of Hirohito, will abdicate on April 30, 2019 due to concerns about his health and age, despite the fact that Japanese emperors have typically ruled until their deaths. Crown Prince Naruhito’s accession to the throne will leave only three heirs.


The Swedish government is a parliamentary democracy, yet a hereditary monarchy works in conjunction with the government. In simple terms? There is a royal family in Sweden, however their role is ceremonial.

The Swedish monarchy could be dissolved in the future; the Parliament is not required to select a new monarch if the current royal family stops producing descendants. However, this does not indicate that Sweden’s monarchy is about to be abolished! The Swedish royal family enjoys widespread approval. As is the case with the vast majority of European royal families today, they abstain from politics and limit themselves to representing Sweden internationally and at traditional home occasions. [7]

Sweden has had a monarchy since the country’s inception, while monarchies have existed in Scandinavia since prehistoric times. Prior to 1000 A.D., the majority of known accounts of Swedish rulers are found in Norse sagas, and even after that date, the written record is incomplete.

Since the arrival of Christianity in Scandinavia in the eleventh century, we know more about Sweden’s monarchs. During this time, rulers were chosen from a variety of rival dynasties. As authority and Swedish territory were cemented, kings grew in stature. The conflict between the two most powerful dynasties, Sverker and Erik, persisted until a new dynasty married into the Erik line, thereby reinforcing the kingdom.

When she was forced to sign the 1719 Instrument of Government, Queen Ulrika Eleonara terminated Sweden’s absolute monarchy. During this period, known as the Age of Liberty (Frihetstiden), the principles of civil liberty and the parliamentary system became the cornerstones of Swedish governance. It was a brief period, lasting from 1718 until 1722, yet it remains pivotal in Swedish history.

Throughout the 19th century, the Swedish royalty was primarily concerned with retaining power amid an increasingly liberal and socially democratic country. Ultimately, in order to live, the royals had to adjust, doing their best to ensure that Riskdag respected their position.

In 1974, Parliament voted to strip the monarchy of all governmental powers, rendering the Swedish royal family’s position purely ceremonial.


royal palace of Norway

Harald I, commonly known as Harald Fairhair, the first king of Norway, was born in the ninth century. His father, Halfdan the Black, was the ruler of the Norwegian province of Vestfold in the southeast. He was derived from the Swedish royal Yngling family. Harald’s father died when he was 10 years old, and Harald succeeded him as king. Harald had united Norway under his reign and defeated rival kings before he reached his mid-20s.

In 1319, upon the death of King Haakon V, the Norwegian throne went to his grandson Magnus, who was also the king of Sweden. In 1397, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden united under Margaret I, a Danish princess who had married Haakon VI, the son of King Magnus. Margaret governed until her death in 1412, despite the fact that her relative Eric of Pomerania was the nominal king.

Sweden elected its own king in 1523, although Norway remained a part of Denmark until 1814, when it was given to Sweden. Norway gained independence from Sweden in 1905. The throne was offered to Prince Carl, the second son of the future King of Denmark, Frederick VIII. The prince ascended to the throne as King Haakon VII following approval by the Norwegian people in a popular vote. [8]

Norway was neutral throughout the First World War. Germany conquered the country during World War II. Haakon VII escaped to England, where he spent exactly five years in exile. When he returned to Norway in 1945, he was greeted with warmth.

King Haakon died in 1957, and his son Olav V succeeded him. King Olav passed away in 1991; his son, Harald V, is the current monarch.

Norway chose King Haakon VII of the House of Glücksburg as its independent monarch following the dissolution of the union. Harald V, the current king, is a descendant of the same house that began in 1905.

Norway is currently a hereditary constitutional monarchy with a robust parliamentary administration. The king does not rule, but serves a ceremonial and representative function. The sovereign’s function is mostly symbolic.


Denmark is simultaneously a democracy and a monarchy. However, being a constitutional monarchy, the monarch’s authority is constrained by the Constitutional Act. The Constitutional Act is the most significant law in Denmark, and all other laws must adhere to it.

Queen Margrethe II, the reigning monarch, has no political power. She neither participates in nor expresses political beliefs. She attends the inauguration of the Danish Parliament, signs laws that have been passed, and formally appoints the Prime Minister, among other official political tasks.

Denmark was an absolute monarchy from 1660 until 1848, a style of government that was prevalent throughout Europe at the time. In Europe, however, opposition to absolute monarchy grew in the 18th century. People wanted the right to determine how their country should be governed, and monarchs were deposed and replaced with republics in various countries. [9]

Although it is commonly believed that Denmark transitioned from absolute monarchy to representative government with the introduction of the Constitutional Act in 1849, genuine democracy was not established until 1915, when women were granted the right to vote.

Frederik III established the absolute monarchy in Denmark with a coup in 1660, and it was dissolved in 1848 with a peaceful revolution following the death of Christian VIII. Despite shifting forms of government and power struggles between various social groups, Denmark’s monarchy is among the oldest in Europe.

During the age of absolute monarchy, a vast governmental machinery comprised of loyal officials was constructed, laying the groundwork for the contemporary state. In addition to military duty and taxes, the subjects were also subject to conscription. The absolute king possessed immense power, and all inhabitants of Denmark were his subjects, yet their living conditions varied greatly. [10]

There were significant disparities between the daily lives of farmers, with their obligations to estate owners, market cities, and big manor estates. The clergy, who were also officials of the absolute monarchy, were tasked with eradicating magical practices and Catholic customs from the populace. The absolute monarchy was also a time when, with the help of the Crown, entrepreneurial merchants could make enormous profits in the profitable commercial triangle between Denmark, Africa, and the Danish West Indies.

The absolute monarch governed over the following territories: the dual monarchy of Denmark-Norway, Iceland, Greenland, the Faroe Islands, and the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein. During this time, there was a rise in criticism of absolute monarchies and pressure for free expression. This helped lay the foundation for the modernization of Denmark.




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