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A monarchy, from the Greek μονος, "one", and ἀρχειν, "to rule", is a form of government in which a monarch, usually a single person, is the head of State. Monarchies were formed through conquest, popular sovereignty, greed, tradition, political necessity and an opportunity to exploit certain situations.

In most monarchies, the monarch holds their position for life and passes the responsibilities and power of the position to their children or family when they die. In a few republics the head of State, often styled president, might remain in office for life, but most are elected for a term of office, after which he or she must step down, and any successors must then also be elected. There are currently 30 monarchs reigning over 44 extant sovereign monarchies in the world; the disconnect in numbers between monarchs and countries is explained by the fact that the sixteen Commonwealth realms—vast geographic areas including the transcontinental realms of Canada and Australia—are separate realms of one sovereign; and one other monarchy, Andorra, has two non-resident foreign (French and Spanish) co-monarchs.

Absolute monarchy is a monarchical form of government where the monarch has the power to rule his or her land or State and its citizens freely, with some laws or legally-organized direct opposition in force. Although some religious authority may be able to discourage the monarch from some acts and the sovereign is expected to act according to custom, in an absolute monarchy there is no constitution or body of law above what is decreed by the sovereign (king or queen). As a theory of civics, absolute monarchy puts total trust in well-bred and well-trained monarchs raised for the role from birth.

A constitutional monarchy or limited monarchy is a form of government established under a constitutional system which acknowledges an elected or hereditary monarch as head of State, as opposed to an absolute monarchy, where the monarch is not bound by a constitution and is the sole source of political power. (The United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy even though it does not have an actual written constitution.) The process of government and law within a constitutional monarchy is usually very different from that in an absolute monarchy.

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Frontispage of the First Quarto Richard The Third.

Richard III is a 1955 British film adaptation of William Shakespeare's historical play Richard III, including elements of Henry VI, part 3. It was directed by Laurence Olivier, who also played the lead role. The cast includes many noted Shakespearean actors, including a quartet of acting knights. The film depicts Richard plotting and conspiring to grasp the throne from his brother King Edward, played by Cedric Hardwicke. In the process, many are killed and betrayed, with Richard's evil leading to his own downfall. The prologue of the film states that history without its legends would be "a dry matter indeed", implicitly admitting to taking artistic licence with the events of the time. The film, as the play did before it, has contributed to considerable debate among historians who alternately praise or vilify the actual Richard III. Critics note that Richard's life and times were much richer and more interesting than the one-dimensional villain Shakespeare and Olivier portrayed.Of the three Shakespearean films directed by Olivier, Richard III received the least critical praise at the time, although it was still acclaimed, and it was the only one not to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, though Olivier's acting performance was nominated. The film gained popularity through a re-release in 1966, which broke box office records in many cities.Of Olivier's three Shakespeare films, Richard III had the longest gestation period - Olivier had created and been developing his vision of the character Richard since his portrayal for the Old Vic Theatre in 1944.

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William IV

William IV (William Henry; 21 August 1765 – 20 June 1837) was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and of Hanover from 26 June 1830 until his death. William, the third son of George III and younger brother and successor to George IV, was the last king and penultimate monarch of the House of Hanover.During his youth, he served in the Royal Navy; he was, both during his reign and afterwards, nicknamed the Sailor King. His reign was one of several reforms: the poor law was updated, municipal government democratised, child labour restricted and slavery abolished throughout the British Empire. The most important reform legislation of William IV's reign was the Reform Act 1832, which refashioned the British electoral system. William did not engage in politics as much as his brother or his father, though he did prove to be the most recent monarch to appoint a Prime Minister contrary to the will of Parliament (in 1834). He gave a liberal constitution to the Kingdom of Hanover, his other kingdom.At his death William had no surviving legitimate children, and in the United Kingdom was succeeded by his niece, Queen Victoria, and in Hanover by his brother, Ernest Augustus I.William's reign was short, but eventful. The ascendancy of the House of Commons and the corresponding decline of the House of Lords was marked by the Reform Crisis, during which the threat of flooding the Upper House with peers was used effectively for the first time by a ministry.

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The Rainbow Portrait by an unknown artist, 1600

Elizabeth I (7 September 1533 – 24 March 1603) was Queen of England and Queen of Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana, The Faerie Queen or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty. The daughter of Henry VIII, she was born a princess, but her mother, Anne Boleyn, was executed three years after her birth, and Elizabeth was declared illegitimate. Perhaps for that reason, her brother, Edward VI, cut her out of the succession. His will, however, was set aside, as it contravened the Third Succession Act of 1543, in which Elizabeth was named as successor provided that Mary I of England, Elizabeth's half-sister, should die without issue. In 1558, Elizabeth succeeded her half-sister, during whose reign she had been imprisoned for nearly a year on suspicion of supporting Protestant rebels.Elizabeth set out to rule by good counsel,and she depended heavily on a group of trusted advisers led by William Cecil, Baron Burghley. One of her first moves was to support the establishment of an English Protestant church, of which she became the Supreme Governor. This Elizabethan Religious Settlement held firm throughout her reign and later evolved into today's Church of England. It was expected that Elizabeth would marry, but despite several petitions from parliament, she never did. The reasons for this choice are unknown, and they have been much debated.

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