Monarchy may be defined as a type of government by one individual. This individual may be a king, queen or emperor. A constitutional monarch is one that is subject to legal limitations while absolute monarch is not subject to any legal limitations.

However, it should be noted that hereditary monarchy is the normal type, but elective forms do exist also. The essence of monarchy is the personification of the majesty and sovereignty of the state in an individual.


Characteristics of Monarchy

  1. Ownership of government: The government of the country is in the hands of a king, Emperor or Queen.
  2. Age – long form of government: Monarchy is an age – long form of government.
  3. Hereditary: It is a type of government that is based on hereditary pattern.
  4. No constitutional limitation: In some forms of monarchy, e.g. Absolute monarchy, the ruler has no constitutional limitations.
  5. Check and balances: In some forms of monarchy, e.g. constitutional monarchy, the ruler is under check by the constitution.
  6. Despotic ruler: A monarch could be despotic and not ready for change.
  7. Stable political system: Monarchy can bring about a stable political system.
  8. Natural institution: Monarchy is a natural institution, where obedience to the king is seen as obedience to God.
  9. Time of emergencies: Monarchy could be adopted to make for emergencies. A monarch need not consult anybody before necessary decisions are taken.


Forms of Monarchy

  1. Constitutional monarchy: The power is regulated by the constitution. The monarch can promulgate only those laws which are agreed to by the elected parliament. Also, he or she is bound to respect not only the letters of the constitution but also the laws of the state. Britain is a good example of a constitutional monarchy.
  2. Absolute monarchy: This occurs when there is no established constitutional authority to check the king’s power. The king rules as the Head of government and Head of state. Examples are Frederick the Great of Russia (1743 – 1786), Loius XIV of France (1643 – 1715) etc.


Advantages of Monarchy

  1. Unity and orderliness: Both are necessary to every stable political system and can best be secured only where supreme authority is vested in a single ruler.
  2. Harmonization: Monarchy helps to harmonize different interests and prevents social strife.
  3. Monarchy is a natural institution: Obedience to a king is as natural as the obedience of a child to its parents. The state is but an extension of the family, the king being the father and the people his children.
  4. Emergencies: Monarchy is best adopted to deal with emergencies, for the monarch need not consult others before deciding on the necessary action.
  5. The protector: In some circumstances, the king may serve as the protector of the people at large from the tyranny of the few.
  6. For historical and practical reasons: Where a hereditary kingship has been in existence for a considerable time, it is unwise and unnecessary to abolish it. Democratic elements can be incorporated into the system.


Disadvantages of Monarchy

  1. Bad ruler: Good intentions, ability, industry are not hereditary. So, a monarch could be a bad ruler.
  2. Despotism: A monarch could be despotic to keep the people weak, so that they may be unable to resist him.

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