Money & Power

8 Royals Who Actually Rule Their Countries

In these countries, the monarchy is very much alive and isn’t merely for display.

1. Prince Albert II of Monaco

Ruler of the second smallest country in the world—after the Vatican—Prince Albert II exercises sovereign authority in accordance with the constitution and legislation. Executive powers are under the prince’s discretion. He is responsible for appointing the minister of state who heads the principality, but may only choose from a list of three pre-selected candidates.  In the judicial branch, the prince may exercise certain powers, as the constitution states that he assigns these powers to the courts that dispense justice in his name.

2. King Abdullah II of Jordan


The King of Jordan has been ruling since 1999, an unexpected situation, especially since King Hussein first named his younger brother as his heir.

To gain an opinion on his rule, the incumbent King Abdullah II used to disguise himself and mingle with his subjects.

Last year, the country altered its constitution to give the king more power. He was granted the power to appoint his own regent and crown prince, as well as a head of the top court and members of the senate, Al Jazeera reports. Before the amendment, he only had the power to directly appoint a prime minister, but now he may do all these without a nomination process or consulting the Council of Ministers.

3. King Maha Vajiralongkorn of Thailand

After beloved Thai ruler Bhumibol Adulyadej passed on last year—making Queen Elizabeth officially the longest reigning monarch—his son King Rama X acceded to the throne with some conditions that defied the Thai constitution. Conventionally, the king had limited constitutional powers, such as the ability to veto legislation and pardon criminals. But the new king has expanded his own powers, such as recovering royal crisis powers and ruling without an appointed regent when he is abroad.

4. King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck of Bhutan


Sometime after the Bhutanese king took control, he pushed for democracy after being under Wangchuk leaders for over a century. In 2008, the country had its very first parliamentary elections. Still regarded the head of state, the Dragon King may exercise various powers: calling house sessions, passing bills, granting amnesty, pardons or reductions of sentences, as well as appointing government officials or award titles.

5. King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud of Saudi Arabia

With his nation still an absolute monarchy, the king of Saudi Arabia is regarded as both head of state and prime minister. After taking on the throne, new King Salman appointed his son, Prince Mohamed bin Salman, as defense minister and deputy crown prince.

6. Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei


As Sultan of Brunei for over 50 years, Hassanal Bolkiah has amassed a vast wealth, making him one of the richest royals in the world. His wealth comes from the country’s production of natural gas. He serves as Sultan, prime minister, finance, and defense minister all in one. He also has the power to appoint almost all of Brunei’s ruling bodies, unchallenged.

7. Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi

After the prolonged absence of his brother Emir of Abu Dhabi and President of United Arab Emirates Khalifa bin Zayed, Mohammed began serving as the de facto leader and deputy supreme commander of the armed forces. After the president returned from his two-year break, the Sheikh continued to carry out important tasks. Sheikh Mohammed also holds a number of political and economic roles at an Emirate level. Recently, the Sheikh met with U.S. President Donald Trump.

8. King Mohammed VI of Morocco


In 2011, King Mohammed of Morocco reformed the government and made a big switch to a constitutional monarchy. Although he still keeps important powers such as choosing a prime minister and other members of the government, he has given up his power to dissolve the parliament and call for new elections, reports the Washington Post.

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About The Author
Hannah Lazatin
Senior Staff Writer
Hannah is a communications graduate from Ateneo de Manila University. She’s originally from Pampanga and from a big, close-knit family who likes to find a reason to get together at the dinner table. Experiences inspire her. “Once, at a restaurant, I received an interpretation of my second name ‘Celina,’ and it meant 'someone who tries everything once' and that is me through and through,” she says. As for the job, she wants her “readers to be inspired by the stories of the people we feature and to move them to reach for greater things.”
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