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Monarch


A monarch is the sovereign head of state in a monarchy. A monarch may exercise the highest authority and power in the state, or others may wield that power on behalf of the monarch. Typically a monarch either personally inherits the lawful right to exercise the state's sovereign rights (often referred to as the throne or the crown) or is selected by an established process from a family or cohort eligible to provide the nation's monarch. Alternatively, an individual may become monarch by conquest, acclamation or a combination of means. A monarch usually reigns for life or until abdication.

If a young child is crowned the monarch, a regent is often appointed to govern until the monarch reaches the requisite adult age to rule. Monarchs' actual powers vary from one monarchy to another and in different eras; on one extreme, they may be (absolute monarchy) wielding genuine sovereignty; on the other they may be ceremonial heads of state who exercise little or no power or only reserve powers, with actual authority vested in a parliament or other body (constitutional monarchy).

A monarch can reign in multiple monarchies simultaneously. For example, the monarchy of Canada and the monarchy of the United Kingdom are separate states, but they share the same monarch through personal union.

Monarchs, as such, bear a variety of titles — king or queen, prince or princess (e.g., Sovereign Prince of Monaco), emperor or empress (e.g., Emperor of Ethiopia, Emperor of Japan, Emperor of India), archduke, duke or grand duke (e.g., Grand Duke of Luxembourg), or sultan (e.g., Sultan of Oman). Prince is sometimes used as a generic term to refer to any monarch regardless of title, especially in older texts.


  • Claiming an existing title, challenging the current holder. This has been very common historically. For centuries, the British monarch used, among his other titles, the title King of France, despite the fact that he had had no authority over mainland French territory since the sixteenth century. Other cases include the numerous antipopes who have claimed the Holy See.
  • Retaining the title of an extinct monarchy. This can be coupled with a claim that the monarchy was in fact never, or should never have been, extinct. An example of the first case is the Prince of Seborga. Examples of the second case are several deposed monarchs or otherwise pretenders to thrones of abolished monarchies, e.g., Leka, Crown Prince of Albania who is styled by some as the "King of The Albanians". Retaining the title of an extinct monarchy can, however, be totally free of claims of sovereignty, for example it was customary in numerous European monarchies to include "King of Jerusalem" in their full titles. When it comes to deposed monarchs, it is customary to continue the usage of their monarchical title (e.g., Constantine II, King of the Hellenes) as a courtesy title, not a constitutional position, for the duration of their lifetime. However the title then dies with them and is not used by subsequent heirs or claimants unless the crown is restored constitutionally. Monarchs who have freely abdicated are sometimes addressed by a lesser style (although, see Juan Carlos I of Spain and Jean, Grand Duke of Luxembourg. However, where a monarch abdicated under duress (e.g., Michael I of Romania), it is usual (especially outside their former realm) to continue to use their monarchical style for their lifetime as a traditional courtesy.
  • Inventing a new title. This is common among founders of micronations, and also may or may not come with a claim of sovereignty, not usually recognised abroad. A notable example is Paddy Roy Bates, styling himself the "Prince of Sealand", but not recognized as such by any national government, thus failing at least the constitutive condition for statehood (see Sealand for a fuller discussion of his claims). Another known example is that of Norton I, who invented the title "Emperor of the United States of America" and later declared himself "Protector of Mexico".
  • Usage of a monarchical title by a fictional character. This is common in fairy tales and other works geared to children, as well as works of fantasy. Examples include Princess Leia and Princess Summerfall Winterspring.
  • Honorific nicknames in popular music and other aspects of popular culture, such as "King of Rock and Roll", Count Basie or Emperor Norton.
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Wikipedia

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