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Monarchies in Europe

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Title: Monarchies in Europe  
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Monarchies in Europe

A map of Europe exhibiting the continent's republics (blue) and monarchies (red).

There are currently twelve (12) sovereign monarchies in Europe: the Principality of Andorra, the Kingdom of Belgium, the Kingdom of Denmark, the Principality of Liechtenstein, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, the Principality of Monaco, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Kingdom of Norway, the Kingdom of Spain, the Kingdom of Sweden, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the State of the Vatican City. Ten of these are states where the head of state (a monarch) inherits his or her office, and usually keeps it for life or until they abdicate. As for the other two: in the Vatican City (an elective monarchy, styled as an absolute theocracy), the head of state, the Sovereign (who is a Pope), is elected at the papal conclave, while in Andorra (technically a semi-elective diarchy), the joint heads of state are the elected President of France and the Bishop of Urgell, appointed by the Pope.

Most of the monarchies in Europe are Republic in the United Kingdom). Currently seven of the twelve monarchies are members of the European Union: Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

At the start of the 20th century, France, Switzerland and San Marino were the only European nations to have a republican form of government. The ascent of republicanism to the political mainstream started only at the beginning of the 20th century, facilitated by the toppling of various European monarchies through war or revolution; as at the beginning of the 21st century, most of the states in Europe are republics with either a directly or indirectly elected head of state.


  • Current monarchies 1
    • Andorra 1.1
    • Belgium 1.2
    • Denmark 1.3
    • Liechtenstein 1.4
    • Luxembourg 1.5
    • Monaco 1.6
    • Netherlands 1.7
    • Norway 1.8
    • Spain 1.9
    • Sweden 1.10
    • United Kingdom 1.11
    • Vatican City 1.12
  • Succession laws 2
  • Table of monarchies in Europe 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
    • Other references 5.1
  • Further reading 6

Current monarchies


Andorra has been a co-principality since the signing of a paréage in 1278, when the count of Foix and the bishop of La Seu d'Urgell agreed to share sovereignty over the landlocked country. After the title of the count of Foix had been passed to the kings of Navarre, and after Henry of Navarre had become Henry IV of France, an edict was issued in 1607 which established the French head of state as the legal successor to the count of Foix in regard to the paréage. Andorra was annexed by the First French Empire together with Catalonia in 1812–1813. After the Empire's demise, Andorra became independent again.[1] The current joint monarchs are Bishop Joan Enric Vives Sicília and President François Hollande of France.


Belgium has been a kingdom since 21 July 1831 without interruption, after it became independent from the United Kingdom of the Netherlands with Léopold I as its first king. Belgium is the only remaining popular monarchy in the world: The monarch is formally known as the "King of the Belgians", not the "King of Belgium". While in a referendum held on 12 March 1950, 57.68 per cent of the Belgians voted in favor of allowing Léopold III, whose conduct during World War II had been considered questionable and who had been accused of treason, to return to the throne; due to civil unrest, he opted to abdicate in favor of his son Baudouin I on 16 July 1951.[2] The current monarch is Philippe.

The crown of Christian IV, part of the Danish Crown Regalia.


In Denmark, the monarchy goes back to the prehistoric times of the legendary kings, before the 10th century. Currently, about 70 percent support keeping the monarchy.[3] The current monarch is Margrethe II. The Danish monarchy also includes the Faroe Islands and Greenland which are parts of the Kingdom of Denmark with internal home rule. Due to this status, the monarch has no separate title for these regions.


Liechtenstein formally came into existence on 23 January 1719, when Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor decreed the lordship of Schellenberg and the countship of Vaduz united and raised to the dignity of a principality. Liechtenstein was a part of the Holy Roman Empire until the Treaty of Pressburg was signed on 26 December 1805; this marked Liechtenstein's formal independence, though it was a member of the Confederation of the Rhine and the German Confederation afterwards. While Liechtenstein was still closely aligned with Austria-Hungary until World War I, it realigned its politics and its customs and monetary institutions with Switzerland instead.[4] Having been a constitutional monarchy since 1921, Hans-Adam II demanded more influence in Liechtenstein's politics in the early 21st century, which he was granted in a referendum held on 16 March 2003, effectively making Liechtenstein a semi-constitutional monarchy again. However, the constitutional changes also provide for the possibility of a referendum to abolish the monarchy entirely.[5] The current monarch is Hans-Adam II, who turned over the day-to-day governing decisions to his son and heir Alois, Hereditary Prince of Liechtenstein on 15 August 2004.


Luxembourg has been an independent grand duchy since 9 June 1815. Originally, Luxembourg was in personal union with the United Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Kingdom of the Netherlands from 16 March 1815 until 23 November 1890. While Wilhelmina succeeded Willem III in the Netherlands, this was not possible in Luxembourg due to the order of succession being based on Salic law at that time; he was succeeded instead by Adolphe. In a referendum held on 28 September 1919, 80.34 per cent voted in favor of keeping the monarchy.[6] The current monarch is Henri.


Monaco has been ruled by the House of Grimaldi since 1297. From 1793 until 1814, Monaco was under French control; the Congress of Vienna designated Monaco as being a protectorate of the Kingdom of Sardinia from 1815 until 1860, when the Treaty of Turin ceded the surrounding counties of Nice and Savoy to France. Menton and Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, part of Monaco until the mid-19th century before seceding in hopes of being annexed by Sardinia, were ceded to France in exchange for 4,000,000 French francs with the Franco-Monegasque Treaty in 1861, which also formally guaranteed Monaco its independence.[7] Until 2002, Monaco would have become part of France had the house of Grimaldi ever died out; in a treaty signed that year, the two nations agreed that Monaco would remain independent even in such a case. The current monarch is Albert II.


The Netherlands originally became independent as the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands, which lasted from 26 July 1581 until 18 January 1795, when the Netherlands became a French puppet state as the Batavian Republic. The Batavian Republic existed from 19 January 1795 until 4 June 1806. It was transformed into the Kingdom of Holland on 5 June 1806; since then, the Netherlands have been a kingdom. They were subsequently annexed to the French Empire in 1810. The United Kingdom of the Netherlands was established on 16 March 1815. With the independence of Belgium on 21 July 1831, the Netherlands again took a new form, as the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Nowadays, about 70 to 80 per cent of the Dutch are in favor of keeping the monarchy.[8][9] The current monarch is Willem-Alexander.


Norway was united and independent for the first time in 872, as a kingdom. It is thus one of the oldest monarchies in the world, along with the Swedish and Danish ones. Norway was part of the Kalmar Union from 1397 until 1524, then part of Denmark–Norway from 1536 until 1814, and finally part of the Union between Sweden and Norway from 1814 until 1905. Norway became completely independent again on 7 June 1905. Support for establishing a republic lies around 20 per cent.[10] The current monarch is Harald V.


Spain came into existence as a single, united kingdom under

  • Louda, Jiří;  

Further reading

  • Central Intelligence Agency (18 July 2006). "World Leaders".  

Other references

  1. ^  
  2. ^ european navigator (20 June 2006). "Full list of the results of the referendum on the issue of the monarchy (13 March 1950)". Historical events – 1945–1949 The pioneering phase. Retrieved 28 June 2006. 
  3. ^ Staff writer (12 May 2004). "Republicans plan to cut Mary's reign". The Age (Australia). Retrieved 27 June 2006. 
  4. ^  
  5. ^  
  6. ^  
  7. ^  
  8. ^ Netty Nynke Leistra (29 February 2004). "Royal News: March 2003". Retrieved 27 June 2006. 
  9. ^  
  10. ^ Berglund, Nina (5 November 2005). "Monarchy losing support".  
  11. ^ Staff writer (1 December 2003). "Spain wants to be a Republic, again".  
  12. ^  
  13. ^ Douwe Keulen, Jan (5 June 2014). "The call for a third Spanish republic". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 16 July 2014. 
  14. ^ Ipsos MORI (22 April 2006). "Monarchy Trends". Retrieved 27 June 2006. 
  15. ^ Staff writer (7 November 1999). "Where the queen still rules". The Guardian (UK). Retrieved 30 June 2006. 
  16. ^  
  17. ^ As of 2014, all realms except Australia have legislated.
  18. ^ Fordham, Alive (8 November 2005). "War of Spanish succession looms while baby sleeps". The Times (UK). Retrieved 29 June 2006. 
  19. ^ Tarvainen, Sinikka (26 September 2006). "Royal pregnancy poses political dilemma for Spain".  
  20. ^ Angus Reid (21 October 2006). "Spaniards Support Monarchy Amendment". Angus Reid Global Monitor: Polls & Research. Retrieved 14 April 2013. 
  21. ^ Vallely, Joanna and MacLeod, Murdo (20 April 2008). "Law favouring male monarchs to be abolished".  
  22. ^ Staff writer (30 April 2008). "British ministers rule out change to succession law". Stuff (New Zealand). Retrieved 30 April 2008. 
  23. ^ Prince, Rosa (15 April 2011). "Royal Wedding: Prince William and Kate Middleton's daughter could become Queen". The Daily Telegraph (UK). Retrieved 24 April 2011. 
  24. ^ Staff writer (28 October 2011). "Commonwealth agrees first-born girls can be queen". CBC News. Retrieved 28 October 2011. 
  25. ^ Pancevski, Bojan (19 November 2007). "No princesses: it's men only on this throne". The Times (UK). Retrieved 23 November 2007. 
  26. ^ Staff writer (21 June 2011). "New Ducal succession rights for Grand Duchy".  


See also

State Type Succession Title Incumbent Born Age Reigns since First-in-line
 Andorra co-principality elective/appointed diarchy Co-prince Joan Enric Vives Sicília 24 July 1949 65 y. 12 May 2003 None; appointed by the pope
Co-Prince François Hollande[I] 12 August 1954 60 y. 15 May 2012 None; successor elected in the next French presidential election.
 Belgium kingdom absolute primogeniture King Philippe 15 April 1960 54 y. 21 July 2013 Heir apparent: Princess Elisabeth, Duchess of Brabant (eldest child)
 Denmark kingdom absolute primogeniture Queen Margrethe II 16 April 1940 74 y. 14 January 1972 Heir apparent: Crown Prince Frederik (eldest child)
 Liechtenstein principality agnatic primogeniture Prince Hans-Adam II 14 February 1945 69 y. 13 November 1989 Heir apparent: Hereditary Prince Alois (eldest son)
 Luxembourg grand duchy absolute primogeniture Grand Duke Henri 16 April 1955 59 y. 7 October 2000 Heir apparent: Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume (eldest child)
 Monaco principality male-preference cognatic primogeniture Prince Albert II 14 March 1958 56 y. 6 April 2005 Heir presumptive: Caroline, Princess of Hanover (elder sister)[II]
 Netherlands kingdom absolute primogeniture King Willem-Alexander 27 April 1967 47 y. 30 April 2013 Heir apparent: Catharina-Amalia, Princess of Orange (eldest child)
 Norway kingdom male-preference cognatic primogeniture for next generation, absolute primogeniture thereafter King Harald V 21 February 1937 77 y. 17 January 1991 Heir apparent: Crown Prince Haakon (only son)
 Spain kingdom male-preference cognatic primogeniture King Felipe VI 30 January 1968 46 y. 19 June 2014 Heir presumptive: Leonor, Princess of Asturias (older daughter) [III]
 Sweden kingdom absolute primogeniture King Carl XVI Gustaf 30 April 1946 68 y. 15 September 1973 Heir apparent: Crown Princess Victoria (eldest child)
 United Kingdom kingdom male-preference cognatic primogeniture Queen Elizabeth II[IV] 21 April 1926 88 y. 6 February 1952 Heir apparent: Charles, Prince of Wales (eldest son)
  Vatican City papacy elective monarchy Pope Francis 17 December 1936 78 y. 13 March 2013 None; successor elected in papal conclave
I^ The co-prince of Andorra is also the president of  France.

II^ Caroline is, as the ruling prince's eldest sister, the current heiress presumptive. Albert II has no legitimate children.

III^ Leonor is, as the reigning king's older daughter, the current heiress presumptive. Felipe VI has no sons.

IV^ The monarch of the United Kingdom is also the sovereign of the fifteen other Commonwealth realms:  Antigua and Barbuda,  Australia,  Bahamas,  Barbados,  Belize,  Canada,  Grenada,  Jamaica,  New Zealand,  Papua New Guinea,  Saint Kitts and Nevis,  Saint Lucia,  Saint Vincent and the Grenadines,  Solomon Islands, and  Tuvalu.

Table of monarchies in Europe

Luxembourg also used agnatic primogeniture until 20 June 2011, when absolute primogeniture was introduced.[26]

The absolute monarch of Vatican City, the Pope, is elected by the College of Cardinals. The current ruler is Pope Francis.

The co-princes of Andorra are elected and appointed (the president of the French Republic and the Bishop of La Seu d'Urgell, appointed by the Pope, respectively).

Liechtenstein has an even older system of succession (agnatic primogeniture/Salic law), which completely excludes women from the order of succession unless there are no male heirs of any kind present, and was criticised for this by a United Nations committee for this perceived gender equality issue in November 2007.[25]

To change the order of succession in the United Kingdom, as the Queen of the United Kingdom is also the queen of the fifteen other Commonwealth realms, a change has to be agreed and made by all of the Commonwealth realms together. Since the need for change is not imminent yet (as Charles, Prince of Wales, will succeed his mother Elizabeth II, and Charles's oldest son Prince William, Duke of Cambridge will succeed him in turn, with no older sisters who would be skipped under the current male-preference primogeniture laws), the change has repeatedly been postponed. While the Equality Bill was at first expected to both abolish the preference for male heirs as well as the barring of Catholics from the throne at some point in 2008,[21] this was later changed because of the complexity of agreeing simultaneous legislation in 16 states, and it seemed that there were no concrete plans to change the order of succession in the close future.[22] It was later reported that the marriage between Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Catherine Middleton might drive change.[23] The heads of government of all 16 states in the Commonwealth of Nations that share the same person as their respective monarch concluded at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2011, in what came to be known as the Perth Agreement, to attempt to change the rules to equal primogeniture and also abolish the ban against the monarchy being married to a Roman Catholic).[24] In the United Kingdom, the Succession to the Crown Act 2013 was enacted, though it has not come into force, pending completion of the legislative alterations required in some other realms.

There are plans to change to absolute primogeniture in Spain[18] through a rather complicated processes, as the change entails a constitutional amendment. Two successive parliaments will have to pass the law by a two-thirds majority and then put it to a referendum. As parliament has to be dissolved and new elections have to be called after the constitutional amendment is passed for the first time, the previous Presidente del Gobierno José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero indicated he would wait until the end of his first term in 2008 before passing the law,[19] although this deadline passed without the referendum being called. The amendment enjoys strong public support.[20]

The succession order is determined by primogeniture in most European monarchies. Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Sweden now adhere to absolute primogeniture, whereby the eldest child inherits the throne, regardless of gender; Monaco and Spain have the older system of male-preference primogeniture, while Liechtenstein uses agnatic primogeniture. The United Kingdom will adopt absolute primogeniture after the passing of similar laws in other Commonwealth realms.[17] Norway will adopt absolute primogeniture for the grandchildren of King Harald V, but his second child and only son, Crown Prince Haakon remains the heir apparent over his older sister, Princess Märtha Louise.

  male primogeniture,
to be changed to equal primogeniture (2)
  male primogeniture (1)
  elective/appointed (2)

Succession laws

Differently from the Holy See, in existence for almost two thousand years, the Vatican City was not a sovereign state until the 20th century. In the 19th century the annexation of the Papal States by the Kingdom of Sardinia, and the subsequent establishment of the Kingdom of Italy, was not recognized by the Vatican. However, by the Lateran Treaty of 1929, the Kingdom of Italy recognized an independent Vatican City state, and vice versa.[16] Since then, the elected monarch of the Vatican City state has been the current pope. The pope still officially carries the title "King of the Ecclesiastical State" (in Latin: Rex Status Ecclesiæ).

Vatican City

The monarch of the United Kingdom is also the monarch of the fifteen other Commonwealth realms, none of which is in Europe. Some of these realms have significant levels of support for republicanism.[15]

Support for establishing a republic instead of a monarchy was around 18 per cent in the United Kingdom in 2006, while a majority thinks that there will still be a monarchy in the United Kingdom in ten years' time, public opinion is rather uncertain about a monarchy still existing in fifty years and a clear majority believes that the monarchy will no longer exist in a century since the poll was done.[14] Public opinion is, however, certain that the monarchy will still exist in thirty years. About 30 per cent are in favour of discontinuing the monarchy after Elizabeth's death.

The monarchy of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland can be defined to have started either with the Kingdoms of England (871) or Scotland (843), with the Union of the Crowns on 24 March 1603, or with the Acts of Union of 1 May 1707. It was briefly interrupted by the English Interregnum, with the Commonwealth of England existing in its stead from 30 January 1649 until 15 December 1653 and from 26 May 1659 until 25 May 1660 and The Protectorate taking its place from 16 December 1653 until 25 May 1659. The current monarch is Elizabeth II.

United Kingdom

Sweden’s monarchy goes back as far as the Danish one, to the semi–legendary kings before the 10th century, since then it has not been interrupted. However, the unification of the rivalling kingdoms Svealand and Götaland (consolidation of Sweden) did not occur until some time later, possibly in the early 11th century. The current royal family, the House of Bernadotte, has reigned since 1818. The current monarch is Carl XVI Gustaf.


[13] however, the numbers have increased since Juan Carlos I abdicated.[12] Data from 2006 suggest that only 25 per cent of Spaniards are in favor of establishing a republic.,[11]

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