Monarchy describes a system of government in which the sovereign rules by order of succession, usually hereditary. Since the 19th century, the growth of parliamentary authority and the rise of communism has steadily extinguished hereditary monarchies; between 2010 and the present, there were only 43 monarchies in the world. Half of all monarchies are constitutional or symbolic, which means that they have no, or limited, political power. This includes countries as far reaching as Japan, Thailand, Cambodia, Denmark and Lesotho. The British queen, Elizabeth II, is constitutional sovereign of the 16 Commonwealth realms, which are all former British colonies or territories. There are currently two true elective monarchies, where the monarch has limited political power and is elected by the state – Malaysia and Cambodia. In 2010, there were seven absolutist monarchies, where the monarch is both head of state and government. Saudi-Arabia is an example of an absolutist monarchy and has been in existence from 1932 to the present day.
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