Crowned republic

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A crowned republic is a form of constitutional monarchy where the monarch's role is ceremonial and all the royal prerogatives are prescribed by custom and law in such a way that the monarch has little or no discretion over governmental and constitutional issues.

The term has been used to describe governments of various realms, including Norway, Australia and the United Kingdom. It can refer to a nation that is a nominal monarchy but in which the people by their citizenship may be seen as ultimately holding power over the nation's affairs. This may apply to a constitutional monarchy where the sovereign personally exercises little political influence, whether vested with executive authority or not.


There is no one definition as to when constitutional monarchy is a crowned republic and different authorities have described different monarchies as such. For example, James Bryce wrote in 1921 that "By Monarchy I understand the thing not the Name i.e. not any State the head of which is called King or Emperor, but one in which the personal will of the monarch is constantly effective, and in the last resort predominant, factor of government. Thus, while such a monarchy as that of Norway is really a Crowned Republic, and indeed a democratic republic, monarchy was in Russia before 1917, and in Turkey before 1905, and to a less degree in Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy until 1918, an appreciable force in the conduct of affairs".[1]

Australia, for example, has been referred to as a crowned republic.[2][3] The Australian Republic Advisory Committee, which was created in 1993 by Paul Keating, then Prime Minister, described the country as a crowned republic because they said it was "a state in which sovereignty resides in its people, and in which all public offices, except that at the very apex of the system, are filled by persons deriving their authority directly or indirectly from the people" so "it may be appropriate to regard Australia as a crowned republic" [4]

The novelist and essayist H. G. Wells used the term to describe the United Kingdom,[5] as did Alfred, Lord Tennyson in his poem Idylls of the King.[6]

The Kingdom of the Netherlands is, by some within its borders, referred to as a crowned republic. Before 2012 the king of the Netherlands appointed the formateur, and as such enjoyed a considerable influence on the formation of the governing coalition - a privilege which Queen Wilhelmina purportedly used to avoid a left majority in parliament to take power in the early years of the Cold War. Since 2012 the appointment of the formateur is the prerogative of the States General and the powers of the monarch have lessened substantially- however, formally he remains the head of government, speaks with the Prime Minister on a weekly basis and retains the right to summon any member of the cabinet. Prince Claus, spouse of the former Queen, Beatrix, and as such Prince Consort, remarked on several occasions that the Netherlands are "not a monarchy at all, but a republic with a crowned head of state". Prince Bernhard, preceding Prince Consort and spouse of Queen Juliana, made similar remarks.

See also



  • Bryce, James (1921). Modern democracies. 2. Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 1-4179-1173-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Patmore, Glenn (2009). Choosing the Republic. University of New South Wales Press. ISBN 1-74223-015-6.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>