Monarchy, or rule by a single individual, is one of the oldest forms of government and is defined as an autocratic system in which a monarch serves as Head of State. In such a system, the monarch holds office for life. Also included in a monarchy are the individuals and institutions that comprise the royal establishment. In elective monarchies, monarchs are appointed to their position for life; in most instances, elective monarchies have been succeeded by hereditary monarchies. In a hereditary monarchy, the title of monarch is inherited according to a line of succession; typically one family can trace its origin along a dynasty or bloodline. Most monarchs represent merely a symbol of continuity and statehood, rather than actually serving as a participant in partisan politics. The practice of choosing a monarch varies between countries. A constitutional monarchy is one in which the rule of succession is typically established by a law passed by a representative body.
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Last updated: 12/29/2017
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