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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 single person holds supreme authority in ruling a country, also performing ceremonial duties and embodying the country's national identity. Although some monarchs are elected, in most cases, the monarch's position is inherited and lasts until death or abdication. In these cases, the royal family or members of the dynasty usually serve in official capacities as well. The governing power of the monarch may vary from purely symbolic (crowned republic), to partial and restricted (constitutional monarchy), to completely autocratic (absolute monarchy).

Monarchy was the most common form of government until the 20th century. Forty-five sovereign nations in the world have monarchs acting as heads of state, sixteen of which are Commonwealth realms that recognise Queen Elizabeth II as their head of state. Most modern monarchs are constitutional monarchs, who retain a unique legal and ceremonial role, but exercise limited or no political power under the nation's constitution. In some nations, however, such as Brunei, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Eswatini, the hereditary monarch has more political influence than any other single source of authority in the nation, either by tradition or by a constitutional mandate.

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Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia
Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia (18 June 1901 – 17 July 1918) was the youngest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II, the last sovereign of Imperial Russia, and his wife, Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna. She was murdered with her family by members of the Cheka, the Bolshevik secret police. The location of her burial was unknown during the decades of Communist rule, and rumors that she had escaped circulated after her death. A mass grave near Yekaterinburg which held the remains of the Tsar, his wife, and three of their daughters was revealed in 1991, and the bodies of the remaining daughter and the Tsarevitch Alexei were discovered in 2007. Forensic analysis and DNA testing have confirmed that the remains are those of the imperial family, showing that Anastasia and the other grand duchesses were killed in 1918. Several women have claimed to be Anastasia, including Anna Anderson, who died in 1984, but DNA testing in 1994 showed that she was not related to the Romanov family.


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Qianlong Emperor
Credit: Giuseppe Castiglione

The Qianlong Emperor was the sixth emperor of the Manchu-led Qing Dynasty, and the fourth Qing emperor to rule over China. The fourth son of the Yongzheng Emperor, his reign officially began 11 October 1735, lasting for 60 years. Named Hongli, he chose the era name Qianlong, meaning "heavenly prosperity". Although his early years saw the continuation of an era of prosperity and great military success in China, his final years saw troubles at home and abroad converge on the Qing Empire. Qianlong abdicated the throne at the age of 85, to his son, the Jiaqing Emperor, fulfilling his promise not to reign longer than his grandfather, the Kangxi Emperor.

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Edward VI of England
Credit: Unknown, probably of the Flemish School

A portrait of Edward VI of England, when he was Prince of Wales. He is shown wearing a badge with the Prince of Wales's feathers. It was most likely painted in 1546 when he was eight years old, during the time when he was resident at Hunsdon House. Edward became King of England, King of France and Edward I of Ireland the following year. He was the third monarch of the Tudor dynasty and England's first ruler who was Protestant at the time of his ascension to the throne. Edward's entire rule was mediated through a council of regency. He died at the age of 15 in 1553.

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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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Charlemagne, King of the Franks
Right action is better than knowledge; but in order to do what is right, we must know what is right.
Charlemagne, quoted in T. H. Huxley's Science and Education, 1893

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