A monarch is the head of a monarchy, a form of government in which a state or polity is ruled by an individual who normally rules for life or until abdication, and typically inherits the throne by birth. Monarchs may be autocrats (as in all absolute monarchies) or may be ceremonial figureheads, exercising only limited or no reserve powers at all, with actual authority vested in a legislature and/or executive cabinet (as in many constitutional monarchies). In many cases, a monarch will also be linked with a state religion. Most states only have a single monarch at any given time, although a regent may rule when the monarch is a minor, not present, or otherwise incapable of ruling. Cases in which two monarchs rule simultaneously over a single state, as is the current situation in Andorra, are known as coregencies.
Monarchs are distinguished by their titles and styles, which in most cases are defined by tradition, and guaranteed under the state's constitution. A variety of titles are applied in English; for example, "king" and "queen", "prince" and "princess", "emperor" and "empress". Although they will be addressed differently in their local languages, the names and titles in the list below have been styled using the common English equivalent. Roman numerals, used to distinguish related rulers with the same name, have been applied where typical.
In political and sociocultural studies, monarchies are normally associated with hereditary rule; most monarchs, in both historical and contemporary contexts, have been born and raised within a royal family. Succession has been defined using a variety of distinct formulae, such as proximity of blood, primogeniture, and agnatic seniority. Some monarchies, however, are not hereditary, and the ruler is instead determined through an elective process; a modern example is the throne of Malaysia. These systems defy the model concept of a monarchy, but are commonly considered as such because they retain certain associative characteristics. Many systems use a combination of hereditary and elective elements, where the election or nomination of a successor is restricted to members of a royal bloodline.
Entries below are listed beside their respective dominions, which are organised alphabetically. These monarchs reign as head of state in their respective sovereign states. Monarchs reigning over a constituent division, cultural or traditional polity are listed under constituent monarchs. For current claimants to abolished thrones, see pretenders.
Monarchs by countryEdit
|Monarch||Name of monarch, preceded by title, with link to list of predecessors.|
|Since||Date of assumption of throne; coronation date listed in footnotes.|
|House||Name of royal family, with information on bloodline.|
|Type||Form of monarchy, with information on role of the monarch within government.|
|Succession||Method or pattern of succession, with link to current line of succession.|
|Standard||Heraldry attributed to the relevant monarch or monarchy.|
|N/A||Denotes where specific field is not applicable.|
|—||Denotes where data is not available.|
- The president of France and the bishop of Urgell each hold the position of co-prince of Andorra, but there is no personal title attached to the role.
- Elizabeth II is currently queen regnant of sixteen separate Commonwealth realms (see separate entries), and has previously reigned as queen of sixteen other countries, which have since abolished the monarchy.
- Elizabeth II previously reigned over this country as Queen of the United Kingdom, from 6 February 1952 until the nation's independence and the creation of a separate crown.
- The royal family of Belgium and the House of Windsor are both lines of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, which is a branch of the House of Wettin.
- Hamad ibn Isa reigned as Amir of the State of Bahrain until 14 February 2002, when he assumed the new title of King of Bahrain under a new Constitution.
- A clan of the Utub tribe.
- Coronation took place 6 November 2008.
- Coronation took place 1 August 1968.
- Coronation took place 29 October 2004.
- A branch of the Varman dynasty. The surname "Norodom" is used by the descendants of Norodom I.
- The king is selected for life by the Royal Council of the Throne from amongst the male descendants of kings Ang Duong, Norodom, and Sisowath.
- Officially the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, which is a branch of the House of Oldenburg.
- "Akihito" is the current emperor's given name, but it is not his regnal name, and he is never referred to as this in Japanese. The era of Akihito's reign bears the name "Heisei", and according to custom he will be renamed "Emperor Heisei" following his death.
- Coronation took place 12 November 1990.
- The Japanese emperor does not have a family name. The use of the name "Yamato" for the household derives from the ancient Yamato Court. It is used often as a name for the imperial dynasty, but has no official basis.
- Formally enthroned on 9 June 1999.
- Succession is based upon primogeniture. However, the reigning king may also select his successor from among eligible princes.
- The heir is appointed by the reigning emir, and the nomination must also be approved by a majority of members in the National Assembly. The throne is also traditionally alternated between the two main branches of the Al Sabah family: the Al Salem and Al Jaber. The current emir is of the Al Jaber branch.
- Coronation took place 31 October 1997. Has previously reigned as king from 12 November 1990 until 25 January 1995.
- Formally enthroned on 15 August 1990. Prior to his accession, Hans-Adam had served as prince regent since 26 August 1984. On 15 August 2004, the prince formally appointed his son Prince Alois as regent, in preparation for his succession to the throne, but remained head of state in accordance with the constitution.
- Prior to formal enthronement, Henri had served as prince regent since 4 March 1998.
- The royal family of Luxembourg are members of the House of Nassau-Weilburg, descended from the House of Nassau and the Parma branch of the House of Bourbon.
- Official title: Yang di-Pertuan Agong. It roughly translates as "Supreme Head of State", and is commonly rendered in English as "King".
- Elected in October 2011. Term of office started on 13 December 2011. Abdul Halim has previously reigned as king from 21 September 1970 to 20 September 1975; he is the first sultan to hold the throne twice.
- The Yang di-Pertuan Agong is elected to a five-year term by and from amongst the nine hereditary rulers of the Malay states, who form the Council of Rulers. The position has to date been, by informal agreement, systematically rotated between the nine; the order was originally based on seniority.
- Albert II was formally enthroned as prince in a two-part ceremony, in accordance with tradition, on 12 July and 19 November 2005. He had previously been serving as regent since 31 March 2005.
- Coronation took place 30 July 1999.
- The Dutch royal family is descended from the Houses of Nassau and Lippe. 
- Formally enthroned on 21 January 1991, and consecrated on 23 June 1991. Prior to his accession, Harald had served as prince regent since 1 June 1990.
- Elizabeth II previously reigned over Papua New Guinea as Queen of Australia, from 6 February 1952 until the nation's independence and the creation of a separate crown.
- Monarchy is constitutional by law, but remains absolute in practice.
- Succession is determined by consensus within the House of Saud as to who will be Crown Prince. This consensus may change depending on the Crown Prince's actions.
- Succession is subject to customary law, and does not follow primogeniture. A council of elders selects who among the reigning king's wives will be mother of the next king. This woman will succeed as Ndlovukati upon her son's ascension to throne, and will rule alongside him for the duration of his reign. The king's first two wives are considered ineligible.
- Formally enthroned on 19 September 1973.
- Name is also written as Phumiphon Adunyadet. He is also styled Rama IX, and is publicly acclaimed "the Great". Thais refer to him as "Nai Luang" or "Phra Chao Yu Hua".
- Coronation took place 5 May 1950.
- A line of the Tuʻi Kanokupolu dynasty.
- The Al Nahyan are a branch of the Al Falahi, a clan of the Yas tribe.
- The Prime Minister is the head of the government. However, with the consent of the Supreme Council, the office is appointed by the President, who retains considerable power.
- According to the Constitution, the President of the United Arab Emirates is elected by the Federal Supreme Council from among the individual rulers of the seven emirates. However, by informal agreement the Presidency is always passed to the head of the Al Nahyan clan, the Emir of Abu Dhabi (see constituent monarchs), which makes it a de facto hereditary position. In addition, the appointed Prime Minister has always been the head of the Al Maktoum clan and Emir of Dubai.
- Coronation took place 2 June 1953.
- Lower flag is for use in Scotland only, upper flag is used in England, Northern Ireland and Wales.
- As Sovereign of the Vatican City, by virtue of being Bishop of Rome.
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