With the recent news of Prince Harry’s engagement to American actress Meghan Markle, the royal family is dominating the news yet again. But the recent attention on the British royal family brings up the topic of monarchies in general. It is interesting to think about how long they’ve lasted and how their roles have differed, and it’s even more interesting when you consider how different the monarchies of the world are from each other. The British royal family is arguably the most well-known in the world, but politically, they are not what they used to be. The royal family, while still holding much influence, has lost and given up much of the power they used to hold. Britain’s monarchy used to be the most powerful in all the lands before the pesky business of democracy stepped into the picture.

Britain’s royal family is much more lax than some other world monarchies. PHOTO COURTESY WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Today’s royal family is seen as much more casual and “for the people.” Much of what they do is to support progressive political issues and charities to aid the people of the world. They are fairly content to have a declined level of political power and influence from the olden days. This, however, does not hold true for monarchies everywhere. Spain, for example, recently arrested the president of Catalonia because of the movement to give the region independence. As Catalonia is one of the most affluent regions of Spain, the Spanish government put an end to the referendum and any effort to become an independent state.

Saudi Arabia’s monarchy is another one that does not want to lose power. While Britain is fine with decreasing power, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia is anything but. Saudi Arabia recently arrested 11 of their most powerful and wealthy princes. It is believed that this was a power play designed to consolidate more power into the hands of the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. But power grabbing is not the only thing that separates the two monarchies. While Britain is striving to be the progressive center of the world, Saudi Arabia only this year allowed women to drive. They currently exist as a monarchy ruling with strict laws on women’s rights as well as things such as a belief in Allah, gender mixing and homosexuality.

While to most people, monarchs are just the people you read about in gossip tabloids, they can represent an interesting look throughout history and into today’s various world cultures. In studying the actions of the royal families of sovereign monarchies, you can find a correlation between the actions and directions of the families and the country. It may be fun to read about the lives of the royals, but it’s important to keep in mind the political influence that the people have within a country. Monarchies are about more than engagements and baby announcements, they define an entire government structure and the governance style of many countries throughout the world.