Today's world had long passed the era when kings and queens ruled it, and modern concept of Parliaments, Presidents as the head of state, cabinets and so on dominates the world of politics. It is also interesting to note that out of the 195 countries in the world, 44 states are ruled by monarchs even today, as head of state.
The term "monarchy" may seem to be an archaic term in the modern dictionary, but Surprisingly, those countries who still have a monarch also possess some of the most powerful monarchies in the world.
The root of the monarchical form of government could be traced back to some 3000 years to the times of Sumer and Egypt when Pharaohs ruled these countries. Since then, it has undergone several political changes and powers of that of a monarch has been restricted to a certain extent today.
Their powers vary depending on the country they reign; for instance, In Thailand, the king as the head of the state has the authority to grant pardon to criminals. At the same time, the monarchs of Norway, Spain, Britain and Sweden are purely ceremonial.
In contrast to these countries, the state of Saudi Arabia in the Middle- East boasts of the most powerful monarch in the world. King Salman(2015) is being privileged to serve as Prime minister, to hold supreme executive, legislative and judicial power while his family members play the other prominent roles of the country.
The state of Swaziland is also considered Africa's last absolute monarchy. King Mswati, the 3rd, has been ruling the country since 1986 and ever since has made numerous changes to the country's constitution including changing its name to " the kingdom of Eswatini".
A few other states with a powerful monarchical form of the rule are, Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Brunei, Oman, Bahrain, Jordon, Morocco and The Vatican. The monarchs of these states still remain powerful and influence most of the vital decisions of their countries.
With symbols of the Queen of England, the head of the state with her image highlighted on coins, stamps and her initials appearing on letterboxes belonging to the Royal Mail. It is surprising to note that she is out of the list of the most powerful monarchs in the world. Her powers have become a heated topic of debate. Unfortunately, her role as the head of the state and the longest-reigning living monarch has been now confined to limited functions such as being the Head of the Church of England, appointing of the Prime Minister, granting Royal assents to legislation. Her role is more ceremonial and formal than being absolute.
The Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah is believed to be the next longest-reigning royal after Queen Elizabeth the second. In addition to being the Sultan, he is the Prime Minister of Brunei and interestingly plays two other prominent roles in the Navy and the Police. He also resides in the biggest palace in the world.
The 44 countries still ruled by monarchs and excluding the 11 most potent monarchies who still dominate the world of sovereignty and thereby hold absolute and extensive powers while the rest of the states have been overpowered by their respective constitutions, where a Parliament regulates the monarch's potential with a cabinet of ministers. In these countries, the ruler would still remain the head of state with most of the powers being vested with the ministers and civil servants.
Today the monarchs especially those of constitutional monarchies seem to move away from their roles at a slow pace and instead get accustomed to modern lifestyles, for instance in Japan, Emperor Akihito was the first emperor to get married to a commoner. Therefore with the only 11 absolute powerful monarchies in the world, today there arises a question, Will the monarchies be limited to just a word in the past?.
By Yoshangika Wadugodapitiya
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