Characteristics of constitutional monarchy with examples rise origin

Constitutional monarchy

The constitutional monarchy is a more modern form of government than the so-called absolute monarchy . This arises in response to the abuse of power that the absolute monarchy supposed in different parts of the world, especially in certain countries of Europe. In this article we will provide you the characteristics of Constitutional monarchy.

It can be said that it is conceived as an intermediate link between the absolute monarchy and the parliamentary monarchy , since the king is limited in his actions with respect to a supreme law. Learn more about this state form and its characteristics below.

Concept of constitutional monarchy

Before defining what is constitutional monarchy, it is important to know what the concept of monarchy in general is. This is a kind of government where sovereignty is exercised by an individual who has received it in a hereditary and lifetime way.

For its part, the constitutional monarchy can be defined as a kind of state or government where there is separation of powers . Where the monarch exhibits the Executive Power when appointing the government; at the same time that the Legislative power is exercised by a parliament or assembly, commonly elected by the citizens.

It is a softened form of monarchy , so to speak, since the king is controlled by a supreme law or by the constitution. In short, the power exercised by the monarch is subject to what the Magna Carta dictates.

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How did the Constitutional Monarchy arise?

The absolute monarchy reigned in many states since the time of the Middle Ages and was characterized by the fact that the power of a monarch was not limited by anything or anyone. The king represented the sole and highest authority, in fact the source of his power was related to God and for this reason he could not be threatened as it would mean revolting against God.

New philosophies of government are born

As new intellectual and philosophical forms emerged, attention began to be paid to freedom and equality before the law. In this way, the absolute monarchy began to be seen as an old and skewed idea. As a result, this philosophy begins to blur at the first signs of new ideas and enlightenment movements for the 18th century .

It begins to be seen as inconceivable that a single person was in charge of managing all the power and making decisions without consulting with anyone else. In addition, in all their actions there was no kind of control that limited the monarch, when said decisions violated the freedoms of each person.


The constitutional monarchy makes its appearance in countries where there is an extended monarchical tradition. As a way of adapting the monarchy to current times, the figure of king or monarch is preserved, but its powers are limited. This was a response after the rise of the first republics, such as the United States and France.

This kind of government had existed in the UK long before the French Revolution broke out . In this case, the power of the monarch was limited by the presence of different institutions, especially that of Parliament (which currently represents the legislative power). The parliament had enough power, being composed of bourgeois and nobles with high economic power. This gave him the power to question, or even deny, the decisions that the monarchs wanted to make if they were not in tune with their own ideas.

On the other hand, the constitutional monarchy was the first form of state to emerge in France after the French Revolution. The revolutionaries decide to agree with the acting king a shared power based on respect for the constitution issued by the States General. As this kind of government does not work in France, the monarchy disappears in the country.


Currently there are several areas of the world where the constitutional monarchy goes hand in hand with some democratic form of government . Usually this is because the country in question regards the monarchy as part of its tradition. Examples of this are:

  • Spain
  • UK
  • Denmark
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Sweden
  • Regions towards Southeast Asia
  • Commonwealth areas: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, etc.

In countries like these, the monarchy must share sovereignty with the people, which is why the latter can choose someone to represent them politically through suffrage.

Another example is the Principality of Monaco, a sovereign city-state located in Western Europe, between the French Alps and the Mediterranean Sea. According to the constitution of the place, its form of government is the constitutional monarchy of a hereditary nature. The current monarch, Prince Albert II, belongs to the Grimaldi dynasty that has ruled since the late 13th century. For his part, the Minister of State is the one who exercises executive functions, orders the police, presides over the government council, in addition to other occupations established in the constitution. It is appointed by the prince and depends on him.

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Characteristics of the constitutional monarchy

  • The king considers himself head of state but he is not the sum of all the powers.
  • The powers of the monarch are relegated by the law that dictates the constitution .
  • It is the union of tradition with democracy . The monarch becomes, basically, an icon of state unity.
  • The title of monarch or king is obtained only hereditary and for life .
  • There are strong and weak monarchies . In the former, the king has greater capacities in the executive power, he can dissolve parliament and call for elections. While in the latter, the monarch has formal or symbolic attributions.

What can the king do in a constitutional monarchy?

  • Elect the prime minister
  • Manage foreign relations
  • Condemn and proclaim laws
  • Declare war or formulate peace treaties
  • Summon the parliament or express its dissolution at the request of the prime minister
  • Grant pardons and amnesties.
  • Confer honors and distinctions.

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