Monarchies might seem like something from a bygone era, but they are still one of the most popular forms of government. In this article, we look at 10 Monarchies that still retain Great Power.
Constitutional monarchy vs Absolute monarchy (and everything in between)
Absolute monarchies tend to a dwindling thing, with the most common form of royal government being a constitutional monarchy. Examples of this include the UK (and commonwealth), Spain and Japan. The head of state is a monarch, but they have no actual power. This is in contrast to places like Saudi Arabia where the monarchy decides everything. In between, you have places, such as Thailand where although not having that much constitutional power, in reality, they are an important political force.
10 Monarchies that still retain Great Power
Technically the King of Cambodia has fairly little constitutional power, but he is an ever-present site in the Kingdom. This is the only country on the list that got rid of their monarch only to bring him back. Had it not been for the enigmatic King Sihanouk Cambodia might still be a republic.
To read more about how Cambodia brought back the monarchy click here.
The only instance on the list of an elective monarchy. There are nine hereditary rulers from the 9 hereditary Malaysian states. Whilst technically an elective monarchy in reality it is rotated amongst the states. Thus making this also one of the only federal monarchies in the world also.
8) Kingdom of Bhutan
Up until a few years ago, Bhutan was an absolute monarchy, but amazingly no one seemed to mind in this laid backcountry. Then the Nepalese had a bit of a revolution and Bhutan decided to change to a constitutional monarchy. Whilst technically not wielding any power now his word goes a long way.
To read more about the King of Bhutan click here.
Another strange case. Thailand was an absolute monarchy for a long time, but its more recent history has seen a number of military dictatorships. No matter who is in power they all claim allegiance to the king. They have some of the toughest less majeste laws in the world. You can be imprisoned for criticizing the king’s dog. Keep that in mind!
North Africa used to be a haven for Kingdoms from Egypt to Libya, but then a whole bunch of Arab Socialism happened. Morocco though managed to buck that trend. Not an absolute monarchy, with the system being described as “mixed”. This though does mean that the king can still override certain decisions by the government.
To read about Arab Socialism click here.
5) Kingdom of Tonga
Tonga is another fascinating case. Basically, Tonga flip-flops from being a constitutional monarchy to absolute every few years. In reality, the King seems in no hurry to give up all that much power. Amazing it is the last Kingdom left in the Pacific Islands, something it takes great pride in.
The Sultan of Brunei wields absolute power whilst also being one of the richest cats on earth.. It is said he has a golden toilet seat. Recently caused controversy by introducing the death penalty for homosexuals. He replied, “we weren’t really going to kill them”. Everyone forgot about it.
When you think about absolute monarchies you would have thought that Europe had moved on. Ins one respects Liechtenstein, Monaco and the Vatican City still have almost absolute monarchs. In Liechtenstein, they moved to a constitutional monarchy, before having a referendum to give the Prince MORE powers. Everyone there is rich, so no one cares.
Every heard of Swaziland, or as they have rebranded Eswattini? A landlocked kingdom in South Africa the King holds absolute power with his mother. Every year there is something called the “reed dance” where virgins parade topless, so the king can pick new brides. Kind of in bad taste for a country with one of the worst HIV rates in the world.
1) Saudi Arabia
When you talk absolute monarchies then the KSA are the ones who really take the biscuit. Even the country is named after the Saud family, the only county in the world to incorporate a surname. Rhodesia also briefly held this honour. They recently allowed women to drive which made a lot of people excited.
To read more about travel to Saudi Arabia click here.
Bonus Round – Sark
Sark is officialy part of the Channel Islands and thus British was the last feudal place in EU (at the time). In 2008 the billionaire Barclay brother complained it wasn’t democratic enough. They have since changed to a 30 member parliament. In reality it is now run by the billionaire bothers. True democracy at work.
And those are our 10 Monarchies that still retain Great Power! Did we miss any corkers off of the list?
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