To most people, kings, queens, princes, and princesses belong in the world of fairytales. Tons of little girls across America and the world grow up dreaming of being princesses. However, there are many countries today where royalty is not just a fanciful childhood dream, but an inherited reality—or an elected privilege. When it comes to monarchs, each type has varying degrees of power and reach. The oldest and most rare form of monarchy is the absolute kind. This type of ruler exercises supreme authority over the region and its people without any limitations. On the other hand, constitutional monarchs do not hold supreme authority and are somewhat limited by the guidelines set within that region’s constitution. Regardless, both types come into power either through inheritance or marriage. In some cases, succession to the throne is elected by a group of high-standing members within the government.
The British royal family has maintained world popularity for some time. Most recently, the royal wedding of the century between Prince William and Kate Middleton—officially known as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge—coupled with the subsequent birth of Prince George has brought a wave of interest on this particular royal family. Since 1952, the Duke’s grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, reigns over 16 sovereign states that form the Commonwealth realm and can give Royal Assent to pass any law, declare war, and many other formidable roles. Still, there are plenty more monarchs who hold just as much influence in their own backyards. Here’s a list of 5 other monarchs in the world today that you might not know about.
5 Monaco- Prince Albert II (2005)
4 Sweden- King Carl XVI Gustaf (1973)
3 United Arab Emirates- Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed (2004)
2 Saudi Arabia- King Abdullah (2005)
1 The Vatican- Pope Francis (2013)
Lastly, the leader of the Holy See and what some think to be the last absolute monarch, Pope Francis rules over the smallest country in the world. While, the Vatican may be merely 100 acres in size (about an eighth of New York’s Central Park) it has considerable power as the supreme authority and seat of the Roman Catholic Church. Pope Francis became the 266th pontiff on March 13, 2013 and the current Sovereign of the Vatican City State. Unlike many of the other monarchs mentioned above, the Pope has ultimate power over each individual church, every individual bishop and priest, and all of the faithful. He answers to no living being and there is no separation of powers on his rule. He answers only to God. Despite the infinite amount of influence that the current Pope has, he is proving to be a transparent leader. In addition to being the teacher of all Christians, he is taking time out to kiss the disabled, help the poor, and receive consultation from others as opposed to simply issuing orders. The vicar of Jesus Christ on Earth prefers to be called the Bishop of Rome and wants to be treated as an equal, just as Jesus did, among cardinals, bishops, and the rest of the 1.2 billion followers of the Catholic Church. Perhaps, this Pope will put an end to even the last absolute monarchy.
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