A form of rule in which there is a single head of state, a monarch, with the title of King (or Queen) or its equivalent; in which the monarch holds his or her office for life; in which the position of monarch normally descends by rules of heredity only to members of a specific royal family; and where the monarch is popularly believed to be possessed of a religious or similar symbolic significance for the state and its institutions that legitimate his or her privileges. When the monarch rules with full or nearly full executive, legislative and judicial powers practically unlimited by constitutional or legal restrictions, the system is often referred to as an "absolute monarchy." When the powers of the monarch are effectively limited and restricted by law (at least to insure respect for the subjects' recognized rights to personal freedom and property and often also to limit the monarch's powers of legislation and taxation), the system is normally referred to as "constitutional monarchy."

[See also: republic, autocracy, oligarchy, aristocracy, state, dictatorship, theocracy]