Papal and Royalty


The following pages deal with various aspects of royalty.


General Specific royal families

Succession laws

Other Resources on the Web




The Washington Post – download the pdf with photos here:

Meet the world’s other 25 royal families – The Washington Post

By Caitlin Dewey and Max Fisher July 22, 2013

This map shows the world’s monarchies, divided into those that rule directly and those that simply reign. (Max Fisher/Washington Post)
With all the attention around Britain’s forthcoming Royal Baby, you’d think the U.K. had a monopoly on monarchs — infant or otherwise. In reality, there are 26 monarchies in the world, a fascinating network of kings, queens, sultans, emperors and emirs who rule or reign over 43 countries in all.

It goes without saying, of course, that most royal families have a considerably lower international profile than the Windsors. That has a lot to do with Britain’s imperial history: Sixteen countries, including Canada and Australia, are still technically subjects of the British monarchy, which also once ruled much of the world.

Beyond Queen Elizabeth II, the other monarchies vary widely in how much power they hold, how they’re seen, how their family got there and even in what they’re called. Here’s a quick tour of the world’s 25 other royal families, plus its two elected monarchies, in Malaysia and the Vatican. We’ve divided them into monarchs who rule — who have real, direct political power — and those, like the Windsors, who merely reign.

Monarchs who rule

Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy, which makes Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz the king and prime minister. His deputies, Salman and Muqrin, are also from the ruling House of Saud, and the king-appointed cabinet includes more members of the royal family. While the monarchy is hereditary now, future Saudi kings will be chosen by a committee of Saudi princes, per a 2006 decree. (There are plenty of them: according to some estimates, the ruling family includes as many as 30,000 people.)

Kuwait: Sabah Ahmed al-Sabah, age 84, has ruled Kuwait since 2006, when the previous emir died, setting off a minor succession crisis because the next-in-line was physically unable to recite the oath of office, possibly because of age-related health issues. Sabah took over instead; he rules the oil-rich nation as emir and head of the royal family, which has been in some form of power since the early 1700s.

Then-Crown Prince Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani at the opening session of the 33rd Gulf leaders summit in Bahrain. (EPA) Then-Crown Prince Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani of Qatar at the opening of the 33rd Gulf leaders summit in Bahrain. (EPA)
Qatar: Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani is a recent addition to this list, having taken over in June after his father’s peaceful abdication. The al-Thani family is known for ostentatious wealth and for working aggressively to expand their country’s regional, oil-funded influence. They’ve ruled Qatar since 1825 and underwent a series of forced abdications in the 20th century, typically instigated by sons or nephews eager to take the throne.

United Arab Emirates: As its name suggests, the United Arab Emirates is a federation of seven districts, each of which is governed by a hereditary monarch who bears the title of emir. Traditionally, the emir of Abu Dhabi is also the federation president. Today that’s Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan, who’s been in charge since his father died in 2004. He is thought to have personal wealth of about $5 billion.

swaziland King Mswati III of Swaziland (AFP/Mohd Rasfanmohd)
Swaziland: King Mswati III has been the absolute monarch of this small southern African country since inheriting the crown from his father in 1986, when he was barely 18 years old. His formal title is Ngwenyama, an honorific that also means lion.

Brunei: Sir Hassanal Bolkiah has been Brunei’s sultan and prime minister since 1967, and he appoints virtually all of Brunei’s ruling bodies, including the Legislative Council and the Supreme and Sharia Courts. His 1,800-room palace, the Istana Nurul Iman, is considered the world’s largest private residence.
Oman: Sultan Qaboos bin Said has ruled Oman, its government, its treasury and its military since he overthrew his father in a 1970 palace coup. His family has ruled since the 1700s, although it lost its East African territory in the 1800s.

Bahrain: The al-Khalifa family, which is Sunni, has ruled over this small and majority-Shiite island nation since 1783. The current monarch, Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, took over in 1999 and in 2002 changed his title from emir to king. Though the constitutional monarchy grants Shiites some role in the government, it’s not much, and pro-democracy protests have roiled the country since 2011.

Jordan: King Abdullah II has ruled since 1999, and though he isn’t technically the head of government — Jordan has an appointed prime minister — he has very real political powers, including the ability to veto any law and dissolve parliament at will. His successor, Crown Prince Hussein, is 19 years old.

Morocco: King Mohammed VI voluntarily shrank some of his powers when, in the wake of the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011, he enacted a series of reforms to Morocco’s government, a constitutional monarchy. While he still has significant powers — including appointing the prime minister and members of the government — he can no longer dissolve the parliament or call for new elections.

The Vatican: Yes, the pope is considered the monarch of this European city-state. Here’s a video explaining it:

Monarchs with some political power

Monaco: Prince Albert II has ruled since 2005 and holds a large political role, despite the fact that Monaco has an elected legislature. He gets to appoint the minister of state, for instance, but only from a list of three preselected candidates.

King Tk is the world’s longest reigning monarch. (Pairoj/AFP/Getty Images) Thailand’s King Bhumibol is the world’s longest-reigning monarch. (Pairoj/AFP/Getty Images)
Thailand: King Bhumibol Adulyadej has reigned for a remarkable 67 years, beating England’s Queen Elizabeth, who has served since 1952. He holds a number of little-used, but still important, constitutional powers, including the ability to veto legislation and pardon criminals. Bhumibol is also an interesting figure on his own merits: The 85-year-old king is an accomplished jazz musician and has patented a waste water aerator.

Liechtenstein: In a rare move among Western European countries, Liechtenstein actually voted to increase the powers of Prince Hans Adam II in the early aughts. The prince can veto any legislation and dissolve the parliament at will, among other powers. Technically, these official duties have been transferred to his son, Prince Alois, but Hans Adam remains chief of state.

Tonga: King George Tupou V took the throne from his father in 2006 and promptly promised to cede most of his powers to the country’s prime minister. Tonga had been an absolute monarchy, but violent, pro-democracy rallies shortly before Tupou’s coronation caused huge damage in the capital and killed eight people.

(AP Photo) Bhutan’s King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk married the non-royal Jestun Pema in October 2011. (AP Photo)
Bhutan: Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk is the Druk Gyalpo of Bhutan, which means Dragon King. Jigme formally took the throne in 2008, two years after his father’s abdication. The coronation was delayed to give 26-year-old Jigme more administrative experience. Reforms in the late 1990s reduced the king’s powers. The Wangchuck monarchy is just over 100 years old, having unified the small Himalayan country under its rule with help from the British Empire.

Ceremonial or figurehead monarchs

Norway: Norway’s King Harald V has a number of important-sounding but entirely ceremonial roles, including appointing the Norwegian cabinet and the prime minister — with the approval of the parliament, of course. The monarchy is hereditary, and 40-year-old crown prince Haakon Magnus will take over from his father.

Swedish Queen Silvia, King Carl XVI Gustaf, Crown Princess Victoria, Prince Daniel and their daugter Princess Estelle (Front), pose for pictures at the courtyard of the Royal family’s summer residence Solliden, on the island of Oeland, Sweden, 14 July 2013, during the celebrations of Crown Princess Victorias 36th birthday. EPA/JONAS EKSTROMER SWEDEN OUT From left: Swedish Queen Silvia, King Carl XVI Gustaf, Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel and their daughter, Princess Estelle. (EPA/Jonas Ekstromer)

Sweden: Sweden is one of the few monarchies that allows female succession, which means Princess Victoria Ingrid Alice Desiree will become queen at the end of her father’s reign, so far of 40 years. King Carl XVI Gustaf, the current monarch, is a ceremonial figure.

The Netherlands: The Netherlands’ King Willem-Alexander took the throne only three months ago, after his mother Beatrix gave up her reign of 33 years. The Netherlands has a bicameral parliament, so the monarch doesn’t rule directly. But King Willem-Alexander still has an important role as the president of the Council of State, an advisory body with roots in the 16th century. No law may be submitted to parliament unless it goes to the council first.

Spain: Spain’s 75-year-old King Juan Carlos I has little power now, but he was instrumental in bringing democracy to Spain. The dictator Francisco Franco named Juan Carlos to succeed him, but shortly after Franco’s death, the new king dismantled the Francoist regime and kickstarted the process that would lead to Spain’s 1978 constitution. Three years later, Juan Carlos also gave a televised address that shut down the attempted “23-F” coup.

Greenland: Greenland is part of a the Kingdom of Denmark, though it has governed itself through an elected parliament since 1979. Denmark’s Queen Margrethe II is still the queen in name there, however; the 73-year-old queen has reigned since 1972 and is to eventually pass the throne to her son Frederik.

Luxembourg: Luxembourg styles itself as a “Grand Duchy,” not a kingdom, so Henri Guillaume goes by the title Grand Duke Henri. He represents, in the words of the official government Web site, “a symbol of stability, a single figure at the head of state, above the daily political business.”

A file picture dated 19 June 2010 shows Crown Prince Philippe of Belgium (R) and his wife, Crown Princess Mathilde arriving to Stockholm’s Storkyrkan cathedral for the wedding of Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden and Daniel Westling, in Stockholm, Sweden. Belgian King Albert II announced his resignation during a speech transmitted by the country’s largest television and radio stations on 03 July 2013. King Albert will be succeeded by his eldest son Crown Prince Philippe, Duke of Brabant, on 21 July 2013, the country’s National Day. EPA/JOCHEN LUEBKE Then-Crown Prince Philippe of Belgium and his wife, Mathilde, arrive at the wedding of Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden in 2010. (EPA/Jochen Luebke)
Belgium: Belgium’s 53-year-old King Philippe inherited a divided country when he was sworn in July 21, hours after his father abdicated. His position is symbolic but important, given Belgium’s current political climate: Philippe has advocated for greater unity between the country’s warring Flemings and Francophones.

Lesotho: King Letsie III has reigned formally since 1996, and informally since 1990, when his father was in exile. He is a “living symbol of national unity,” per the national constitution, and he has no political powers.

Cambodia: King Norodom Sihamoni was tapped to take over from his father in 2004, when Thailand’s Royal Throne Council picked him from a pool of eligible male royals. Sihamoni’s post is a symbolic one, but he had earlier served in real political roles, including as Cambodia’s ambassador to UNESCO.

Malaysia: The structure of the monarchy in Malaysia is ceremonial and unique. Each state has a hereditary leader, called a sultan; every five years, the sultans elect one of their members to serve as king. Since 2011, Tuanku Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah has held the throne.

Japanese Emperor Akihito (C), Empress Michiko (R) and Crown Princess Masako (L) visit Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre to appreciate a regular orchestra concert of the Gakushuin university’s alumni in Tokyo on July 7, 2013. Crown Prince Naruhito played the viola during a regular orchestra concert. AFP PHOTO / POOL / KAZUHIRO NOGIKAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images Japanese Crown Princess Masako, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko attend an orchestra concert on July 7 in which Crown Prince Naruhito played viola. (AFP/Kazuhiro Nogi)
Japan: Japan’s Yamato dynasty traces its origins back to 660, making it the oldest continuous hereditary monarchy in the world. The 79-year-old Emperor Akihito has reigned since 1989 and is, according to legend, the 125th emperor in his line, though there’s some debate as to the exact count of emperors. His seat is called the Chrysanthemum Throne and sits in the Imperial Palace in Kyoto.


Genealogic Resources

There are many, many sites devoted to royal genealogies. Here are two that I find very useful:

A few other sites (with apologies to those I don’t mention):

Chronological Resources

Use at your own risk.

Resources on Styles

Legal Resources

Constitutional Law

International law

International law: documents on Gallica

The French National Library’s server Gallica contains a number of texts of treaties and other diplomatic documents in scanned-image PDF format (you will need the free Acrobat reader). Download times can be long, and your browser may crash at times. Here are some collections I have found useful:

Civil Law

Canon Law

Roman Law

Sometimes useful to have on hand.


Printed sources for treaties and constitutional documents before 1914

There are many contemporary collections of constitutional texts and international treaties. It is more difficult to get a hold of constitutions of states that have disappeared. Here are some sources.

  • British and Foreign State Papers.
    This annual publication of the British foreign office began in 1812 and ended in 1977. It contains documents that are useful for British foreign policy, including many treatises and constitutions of foreign states, as well as official statements and declarations. Texts are often translated from the original language into either French or English.An antecedent is the State Papers section of the Annual Register, which begins in 1758. The years 1758-78 are available online at the Internet Library of Early Journals (note: they ceased to be available in 2004, for unexplained reasons.)
  • Dufau, Pierre-Armand, Jean-Baptiste Duvergier and J. Guadet: Collection des constitutions, chartes et lois fondamentales des peuples de L’Europe et des deux Amériques : avec des précis offrant l’histoire des libertés et des institutions politiques chez les nations modernes. Paris : J.L. Chanson, 1821-1823. 6 volumes.
    • Anton Faber: Europäische Staats-Cantzley. Frankfurt, 1697-1760 (115 vols.)
    • Anton Faber: neue europäische Staats-Canzley, welche die wichtigsten öffentlichen Angelegenheiten, vornehmlich des deutschen Reiches in sich fasset . Ulm, Frankfurt, Leipzig, 1761-82. (vols. 1-30, 1761-72; neue Folge 1-25, 1772-82).
    • Johann August Reuss: Teutschen Staatskanzley nebst Deduktions- und Urkundensammlung . Ulm, 1783-1801.
  • Georg Friedrich de Martens (d. 1821) began a series that was continued after his death by his nephew Karl de Martens and then other editors (Friedrich Saalfeld, Friedrich Murhard, Karl Murhard, J. Pinhas, Karl Friedrich Lucian Samwer, Julius Hopf, Heinrich Triepel).
    • Recueil des principaux traités d’alliance, de paix, de trêve (Göttingen, J. C. Dietrich, 1797-1801, 7 vols; Supplement, 1802, 2 vols.).
    • Nouveau recueil de traités d’alliance, de paix, de trève… et de plusieurs autres actes servant à la connaissance des relations étrangères des puissances… de l’Europe… depuis 1808 jusqu’à présent (Göttingen, J. C. Dietrich, 1817-41, 16 vols; Nouveaux Suppléments, 1839-42, 3 vols.).
    • Nouveau recueil général de traités, conventions et autres transactions remarquables, servant à la connaissance des relations étrangères des puissances et états dans leurs rapports mutuels. (Göttingen, J. C. Dietrich, 1843-75, 20 vols).
    • Nouveau recueil général de traités et autres actes relatifs aux rapports de droit international . 2e série.a (Göttingen, Dieterich, 1876-1908, 35 vols.)
    • Nouveau recueil général de traités et autres actes relatifs aux rapports de droit international. 3e série. (Leipzig, Dieterich, 1909-44, 44 vols.).
  • Consolidated Treaty Series (CTS), edited by Clive Parry (231 volumes).
    This mammoth collection reproduces international treaties between 1648 and 1920, in facsimile from other printed collections (such as Dumont, Martens, Faber, etc).
  • Pölitz, Karl Heinrich Ludwig: Die europäischen Verfassungen seit dem Jahre 1789 bis auf die neueste Zeit : mit geschichtlichen Erläuterungen und Einleitungen . Leipzig : F.A. Brockhaus, 1832-1833.
    The first edition, published anonymously, was titled: Die Constitutionen der europäischen Staaten seit den letzten 25 Jahren (1816-24). The 4 volumes contain:

    1. Die gesammten Verfassungen des teutschen Staatenbundes
    2. Die Verfassungen Frankreichs, der Niederlande, Belgiens, Spaniens, Portugals, der italienischen Staaten und der Ionischen Inseln
    3. Die Verfassungen Polens, der freien Stadt Cracau, der Königreiche Galizien und Lodomerien, Schwedens, Norwegens, der Schweiz und Griechenlands
    4. Die Verfassungen des teutschen Staatenbundes seit dem Jahre 1833 (published 1847).
  • Posener, Paul: Die staatsverfassungen des Erdballs; unter Mitwirkung von Gelehrten und Staatsmännern. Charlottenburg, Fichtner, 1909. 1435 p.
    Complete collection of the constitutions in force at the time of publication, including each German state.

From 1907 to 1914 a series of volumes on the public law of countries was published in Tübingen by the publisher J. C. B. Mohr (Das öffentliche recht der gegenwart). They are very good references for laws of succession and constitutional questions in general. The fact that they were published just before World War I makes them a good source for the state of public law in German states right before the monarchies disappeared. Here is a list of the volumes:

  1. German Empire by Paul Laband and Otto Mayer (1907)
  2. Württemberg by Karl Göz (1908)
  3. International law by Emanuel Ullmann (1908)
  4. Braunschweig by Albert Rhamm (1908)
  5. Baden by Ernst Walz (1909)
  6. France (constitutional) by André Lebon (1909)
  7. Greece by Nikolaus Saripolos (1909)
  8. Saxony by Otto Mayer (1909)
  9. Austria by Josef Ulbrich (1909)
  10. Luxemburg by Paul Eyschen (1910)
  11. USA by Ernst Freund (1911)
  12. Norway by Bredo Henrik Munthe af Morgenstierne (1911)
  13. Oldenburg by Walther Schücking (1911)
  14. Hungary (constitutional) by Heinrich Marczali (1911)
  15. Hungary (administrative) by Desider Márkus (1912)
  16. Russia by Wiatscheslaw Gribowski (1912)
  17. Finland by Rafael Erich (1912)
  18. Hesse-Darmstadt by Wilhelm van Calker (1913)
  19. Denmark by C. Goos and Henrik Hansen (1913)
  20. Bavaria (constitutional) by Max von Seydel (1913)
  21. Bavaria (administrative) by Max von Seydel (1913)
  22. France (administrative) by Gaston Jèze (1913)
  23. Spain by Adolfo Posada (1914)
  24. United Kingdom by Julius Hatschek (1914)
  25. Alsace-Lorraine by Oscar Fischbach (1914)
  26. Bremen and Lübeck by Johannes Bollmann (1914)

For the German states there are several sources, beyond those listed above:

  • Stoerk, Felix: Handbuch der deutschen Verfassungen : die Verfassungsgesetze des Deutschen Reiches und seiner Bundesstaaten nach dem gegenwärtigen Gesetzesstande . Leipzig : Duncker & Humblot, 1884. 2nd edition: 1913.
  • Binding, Karl: Deutsche staatsgrundgesetze in diplomatisch genauem abdrucke. Leipzig, W. Engelmann, 1897-1906.
    Contains: Bund of 1867, Empire of 1871, confederation of the Rhine of 1806, German confederation of 1815; Prussia, Bavaria, Saxony, Wurttemberg, Baden, Hesse-Darmstadt, Lübeck, Bremen and Hamburg.

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François Velde
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