The Monarchy Portal

Richard I of England being anointed during his coronation in Westminster Abbey, from a 13th-century chronicle.

A monarchy is a form of government in which a person, the monarch, is head of state for life or until abdication. The political legitimacy and authority of the monarch may vary from purely symbolic (crowned republic), to restricted (constitutional monarchy), to fully autocratic (absolute monarchy), and can expand across the domains of the executive, legislative and judicial. A monarchy can be a polity through unity, personal union, vassalage or federation, and monarchs can carry various titles such as king, queen, emperor, khan, caliph, tsar, or sultan.

In most cases, the succession of monarchies is hereditary, often building dynastic periods, however elective and self-proclaimed monarchies are possible. Aristocrats, though not inherent to monarchies, often serve as the pool of persons to draw the monarch from and fill the constituting institutions (e.g. diet and court), giving many monarchies oligarchic elements.

Monarchies were the most common form of government until the 20th century. Today forty-five sovereign nations in the world have a monarch, including sixteen Commonwealth realms that have Elizabeth II as the head of state. Other than that there are a range of sub-national monarchic entities. Modern monarchies tend to be constitutional monarchies, retaining under a constitution unique legal and ceremonial roles for the monarch, exercising limited or no political power, similar to heads of state in a parliamentary republic.

The opposing and alternative form of government to monarchy has become the republic.

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Constantine II of Scotland
Constantine II of Scotland was an early King of Scotland, known then by the Gaelic name Alba. His reign, like those of his predecessors, was dominated by the actions of Viking rulers in Britain and Ireland, particularly the Uí Ímair. During Constantine's reign, the rulers of the southern kingdoms of Wessex and Mercia, later the kingdom of England, extended their authority northwards into the disputed kingdoms of Northumbria. At first allied with the southern rulers against the Vikings, Constantine in time came into conflict with them. King Æthelstan secured Constantine's submission in 927 and 934, but the two again fought when Constantine, allied with the Strathclyde Britons and the Viking king of Dublin, invaded Æthelstan's kingdom in 937, only to be defeated at the great battle of Brunanburh. In 943 Constantine abdicated the throne and retired to the Céli Dé monastery of St Andrews where he died in 952. His reign of 43 years, exceeded in Scotland only by that of King William the Lion before the Union of the Crowns in 1603, is believed to have played a defining part in the gaelicisation of Pictland in which his patronage of the Irish Céli Dé monastic reformers was a significant factor. During his reign the words "Scots" and "Scotland" (Old English: Scottas, Scotland) were first used to mean part of what is now Scotland.

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Albert Memorial
Credit: David Iliff

The Albert Memorial, a monument to Prince Albert found in Kensington Gardens, London, England, as seen from the south side. Directly to the north of the Royal Albert Hall. It was commissioned by Queen Victoria and designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott in the Gothic revival style. Opened in 1872, the memorial is 176 feet (54 m) tall, took over ten years to complete, and cost £120,000.

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Jane Loftus, Marchioness of Ely

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Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia
Credit: Photograph: Boissonnas and Eggler; restoration: Chris Woodrich

Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia was the youngest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II, the last sovereign of Imperial Russia, and his wife, Tsarina Alexandra Fyodorovna. At age 17, she was executed with her family in an extrajudicial killing by members of the Cheka – the Bolshevik secret police – on July 17, 1918. Rumors have abounded that she survived, and multiple women have claimed to be her. However, this possibility has been conclusively disproven.

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Henry II of England
he House of Plantagenet (1154–1485) was the royal house of all the English kings from Henry II to Richard III, including the Angevin kings and the houses of Lancaster and York. In addition to the traditional judicial, feudal and military roles of the king, the Plantagenets had duties to the realm that were underpinned by a sophisticated justice system. They were often forced to agree to constraints on royal power, such as Magna Carta, in return for financial and military support. During their reigns, a distinct national identity was shaped by conflict with the French, Scots, Welsh and Irish, and by the establishment of English as the primary language. In the 15th century, the Plantagenets were defeated in France in the Hundred Years' War and beset with social, political and economic problems. Revolts were triggered by politics and by the denial of freedoms. English nobles raised private armies, engaged in private feuds and openly defied Henry VI. Rivalry between the Yorkists and Lancastrians erupted into the Wars of the Roses. After Richard III's death ended the reign of the Plantagenets, Henry VII founded the Tudor dynasty.

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Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother
Is that wise, darling? Remember you have to reign all afternoon.
Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, to her daughter Queen Elizabeth II, who was contemplating having a second glass of wine at lunch.

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Featured articles: Áedán mac Gabráin · · Æthelbald of Mercia · Æthelberht of Kent · Æthelred of Mercia · Aldfrith of Northumbria · Bhumibol Adulyadej · Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia · · Anne of Denmark · Princess Beatrice of the United Kingdom · · · · Augustus · · · Cædwalla of Wessex · Ceawlin of Wessex · (...more)

Featured lists: List of French monarchs · List of Portuguese monarchs · List of Sultans of Zanzibar

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