Crowned republic

A crowned republic is an informal term that has been used to refer to a system of monarchy where the monarch's role may be seen as almost entirely ceremonial and where nearly all of the royal prerogatives are exercised in such a way that the monarch personally has little discretion over executive and constitutional issues. The term has been used by a small number of authors (below) to informally describe governments such as Australia and the United Kingdom, although these countries are classified as constitutional monarchies. A crowned republic may refer also for the historical republic with a doge as the head of the state, esp. Venice and Genoa.


As an informal term, "crowned republic" lacks any set definition as to its meaning, and the precise difference between a constitutional monarchy and a "crowned republic" remains vague. Different individuals have described various states as crowned republics for varied reasons. For example James Bryce wrote in 1921:

"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]

The Australian Republic Advisory Committee described the country as a "crowned republic" and stated 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".[2]

H.G. Wells (1866–1946) used the term in his book A Short History of the World to describe the United Kingdom,[3] as did Alfred, Lord Tennyson in 1873 in an epilogue to Idylls of the King.[4]

In the Kingdom of Greece, the term Βασιλευομένη Δημοκρατία (Vasilevoméni Dimokratía, literally crowned democracy or crowned republic) became popular after the 23 October 1862 Revolution, which resulted in the introduction of the 1864 constitution.[5] The Constitution of 1952 enshrined the concept into law by declaring the form of government that of a Crowned Republic.[6] This is sometimes translated as "Crowned Democracy".[7]

The Monarchical Republic of Queen Elizabeth I

In 1987, Patrick Collinson argued that the government of Elizabethan England (1558–1603) can be described as a "monarchical republic", because there were serious limits on the queen's independent authority, and some privy councillors sponsored a scheme to allow a brief interregnum if the queen should be killed by her Catholic enemies.[8] Many historians have accepted and expanded upon this theory.[9] However, in 2019, Jonathan McGovern suggested that this formulation is an exaggeration, and has been treated too seriously by subsequent historians.[10]

See also


  1. Bryce 1921, p. 535
  2. Patmore 2009, p. 105
  3. Wells 1922, Chapter LXIV.
  4. Tennyson 1873.
  5. Great Greek Encyclopedia 1934, p. 239.
  6. Constitution of Greece 1952.
  7. Markesinis, Basil S. (1973). "Reflections on the Greek Constitution". Parliamentary Affairs. 27 (1973September): 8–27. doi:10.1093/parlij/27.1973sep.8.
  8. Patrick Collinson, ‘The Monarchical Republic of Queen Elizabeth I’, Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester 69, no. 2 (1987), 394-424.
  9. John F. McDiarmid, ed. The Monarchical Republic of Early Modern England: Essays in Response to Patrick Collinson (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007).
  10. Jonathan McGovern, ‘Was Elizabethan England Really a Monarchical Republic?’, Historical Research 92, no. 257 (2019), 515-528.


  • "Ελλάς (Πολίτευμα)" [Greece (Form of Government)]. The Great Greek Encyclopedia (in Greek). Athens: Pyrsos Publishing. 1934. p. 239. Retrieved 31 August 2018. Through the Constitution of 1864, constitutional monarchy, or, as it had been described, 'crowned democracy', or 'democratic monarchy', was consolidated as the form of government in Greece.
  • Bryce, James (1921). Modern democracies. 2. Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 1-4179-1173-5.
  • Patmore, Glenn (2009). Choosing the Republic. University of New South Wales Press. ISBN 978-1-74223-015-3.
  • "Σύνταγμα της Ελλάδος" [Constitution of Greece] (PDF). (in Greek). Athens: Hellenic Parliament. 1952. p. 6. Retrieved 31 August 2018. Article 21: The Form of Government of Greece is that of a Crowned Republic. All powers stem from the Nation and are exercised in accordance with the Constitution.
  • Tennyson, Alfred, Lord (1873). "To the Queen". Idylls of the King.
  • Wells, H.G. (1922). "LXIV. The British Empire in 1914". A Short History of the World.