One of the oldest monarchies in Europe is the House of Windsor. Britain's Royal family can trace its roots back to William the Conqueror in the 11th century. As an institution, the British monarchy remains secure; there is little appetite for a Republic. But in recent years the popularity of the Queen and her close relatives has declined...largely because of the antics of some of the younger members of the family.
In Europe, Kings and Queens take part in numerous official ceremonies throughout the year, they make state visits abroad, but they rarely rule. Each year in Britain the Queen reads a speech in Parliament, but she speaks on behalf of her government, she reads a speech written by the prime minister. In Monaco the Prince actually rules the principality but Monaco is an exception. Bulgaria is an interesting case, because King Siméon the second governed the country from 2001 to 2005, not because he is the king, but because he won the general elections. But is Siméon the second a monarch or a politician.
Though the last time Poland had a king was way back in 1795, at least five monarchist parties are vying for public attention. There are lots of potential successors to the throne as throughout much of its history Poland had elected monarchs, rather than dynasties.
In Germany, royals stopped playing a role in politics back in 1918, when the last emperor, Wilhelm the Second, abdicated. The new law of the land, the Weimar Constitution, then put an end to the monarchy. But it didn't put an end to Germans' interest in all things noble. Since there are no German kings or queens to talk about, Germans simply look beyond their borders to those countries which still have active royal households, like England, Denmark, or the Netherlands. Republicanism is nice, most Germans will tell you, but modern-day fairy tales with sparkling princesses dripping with glamour are also good to have around, even if they're seen from a distance.
Finally, a monarchy that is alive and well, and which continues to play a large role in peoples lives. Sweden's monarchy stretches back some thousand years, and since the early 19th Century the Bernadotte dynasty has been on the country's throne. Despite a 1000 years of tradition, the Swedish Royals have managed to honor the traditions of the past while at the same time being able to modernize itself and stay in touch with the needs and wants of a 21st Century Society. Sweden is a constitutional monarchy, which means that the monarch's duties are regulated by the country's constitution. Today's Royal Family includes Sweden's Head of State - King Carl XVI Gustaf and his wife Queen Silvia. The couple have three children; heir to the throne Crown Princess Victoria, Prince Carl Phillip and Princess Madeleine. 2006 has been a big year for the royals here. In April, King Carl XVI Gustaf celebrated his 60th Birthday and his wife Siliva, celebrated her 30th anniversary as the country's Queen. To honor the occasion a special exhibition is currently on display at Stockholm's Royal Palace. "Our Queen" is a look at some of the most glamorous and exquisite gowns worn by the German-Brazilian born Silvia Renate Sommerlath.
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