What is the Difference Between Absolute Monarchy and Constitutional Monarchy

The main difference between absolute monarchy and constitutional monarchy is that in an absolute monarchy, the monarch has absolute control and power, whereas, in a constitutional monarchy, the power of the monarch is limited by the constitution.

Monarchy is a form of governance in which a single person acts as the head of state. Absolute monarchy and constitutional monarchy are forms of monarchies that are greatly different from each other.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Absolute Monarchy 
     – Definition, Features
2. What is Constitutional Monarchy
     – Definition, Features
3. Difference Between Absolute Monarchy and Constitutional Monarchy
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms

Absolute Monarchy, Constitutional Monarchy, Monarchy

Difference Between Absolute Monarchy and Constitutional Monarchy - Comparison Summary

What is Absolute Monarchy

An absolute monarchy is a form of government where one person, typically a king or queen, holds absolute power. We call this ruler a monarch. The monarch had absolute control over the whole country. In an absolute monarchy, the actions of the monarch are not restricted by written law or custom. Their power is unlimited. Therefore, the monarch is the highest and most powerful authority in the country. Absolute monarchy was a form of government popular during medieval Europe and until about the 18th century. The system of feudalism, which was also common at the time, further empowered the absolute monarchy.

Difference Between Absolute Monarchy and Constitutional Monarchy

The main characteristics of an absolute monarchy are hereditary rules and the divine right of kings. A monarch becomes a ruler by family. That means, he or she receives that position because they are born in the royal family as the royal heir. Moreover, the divine right of kings refers to the medieval Europeans belief that kings derived their power from god. This belief further empowered the monarch as it ensured that people have no control over the monarch’s rule.

Although this system is no longer present in Europe, it still exists in some modern countries like the Sultanate of Oman, the State of Qatar, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the Nation of Brunei, the Abode of Peace.

What is Constitutional Monarchy 

A constitutional monarchy is a form of government in which a country is ruled by a monarch whose power is limited by a constitution. In other words, the monarch acts as the head of state within the parameters of the constitution (a written or unwritten constitution). Therefore, the monarch is a purely ceremonial ruler or a de facto head of state. Furthermore, constitutional monarchy is the opposite of absolute monarchy.

Difference - Absolute Monarchy vs Constitutional Monarchy

World’s Constitutional Monarchies

A constitutional monarchy typically has a constitutionally organized government like a parliament, which shares power with the monarch. In fact, the parliament or another legislative body exercises real governmental power in the country. Moreover, this legislative body is headed by a prime minister. Therefore, the monarch acts as the symbolic ruler while the prime minister and the government actually lead the country. Moreover, the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, Sweden, Belgium, Cambodia, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Jordan, and Thailand are examples of constitutional monarchies.

Difference Between Absolute Monarchy and Constitutional Monarchy

Definition

An absolute monarchy is a form of government where one person, typically a king or queen, holds absolute power, while a constitutional monarchy is a form of government in which a country is ruled by a monarch whose power is limited by a constitution.

Monarch

In an absolute monarchy, the monarch is the highest and most powerful authority in the country, but in a constitutional monarchy, the monarch is a purely ceremonial ruler or a de facto head of state.

Authority

In an absolute monarchy, the monarch has unlimited power and authority, while in a constitutional monarchy, the monarch shares the power with the parliament or another legislative body.

Examples

Sultanate of Oman, the State of Qatar, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are modern countries with absolute monarchies, while the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, Sweden, Belgium, Cambodia, the Netherlands, and Thailand are examples of countries with constitutional monarchy.

Reference:

1. Longley, Robert. “What Is a Constitutional Monarchy? Definition and Examples.” ThoughtCo, Available here.
2. “Absolute Monarchy.” History Crunch, Available here.

Image Courtesy:

1. “4170376” (CC0) via Pixabay
2. “Form of government constitutional monarchy” By The_Tom – own work, from existing wikimedia blank world map, simplified version of Image:Form of government.png (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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