Okay, every month or two someone comes up with a variant on “Does Elizabeth II have any real powers or duties?” and it gets answered. (Yeah, but they’re either neutralized by requiring “advice” – i.e., instructions to use/not use a given power placed in a formal “advise the monarch what to do” mode – or Constitutional-crisis reserved powers.)
I’m curious: in addition to the U.K., there are monarchs in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Spain. Do they have any actual powers, or do they function totally in what Bagehot called the “ceremonial mode” – functioning as symbols for national patriotism and handling the formalities of government to permit the actual ministries to do the work without having to dedicate schools, sewer plants, and the like? (Obviously, the answer will have to be country-specific.)
You could add to your list Luxemburg, Monaco, Liechtenstein and even the Vatican and Andorra (which is, formally, a principality).
I wrote this because I believe that contrarily to his colleagues, the Prince of Liechtenstein has some actual powers, though I might be wrong.
Thinking twice, I believe it’s true also to some extent for the prince of Monaco, though his powers are limited by both the elected council and the partially controlled by the french government executive.
But honestly, I don’t intend to search for the constitutions (assuming they exist) of Liechtenstein and Monaco to check this out.
In Norway, the monarch has few actual powers. The King is supposed to preside over cabinet meetings, which are held every Friday that isn’t a holiday. Well, at the moment, the King is recovering from cancer surgery, so that responsibility passes on to his son, acting as Crown Prince Regent. The question came up, what happens if the CP is in bed with the flu some Friday? Or, since he and his wife are expecting a baby next month, what happens if the baby chooses the least opportune moment to put on an appearance, as babies so often do? And the answer is found in the Norwegian constitution: if both the monarch and the heir apparent are unable to attend, the cabinet meeting can and should go on without them. So it could be argued that they aren’t even needed for that.
After each election, or in the event that a government loses a no-confidence vote between elections*, the King is responsible for inviting one party or coalition to form a government. In practice, however, since the restoration of an independent Norwegian monarchy in 1905, the King has always invited the party or coalition that has the most support in Parliament.
The King has to sign bills passed by Parliament before they become law, but this is a formality. Again, the King has not refused to do so since 1905.
If you’re really curious, here’s an English translation of the Norwegian constitution, which details the King’s duties among hundreds of other things…
Norwegian parliamentary elections are held on fixed dates every four years. If a government loses a no-confidence vote between elections, a new government must be formed from the existing parliament.
The role of the Swedish king is pretty much the same as in Norway. (I assume that the Norwegian constitution was ‘inspired’ by the Swedish when they broke off in 1905.) His main role is to inaugurate new roads and museums. From time to time he makes some very unthoughtfull comments about domestic or foreign politics, which always gets blown out of proportion by the media. He also has a reputation of being a few short of a six-pack, but is mainly considered ‘mostly harmless’.
The king is also the highest ranking military officer in the country (IIRC the only five-star general), something he uses to go camping in army gear. (He’s very much into hiking / hunting etc.)
It will be interresting to see how many of these roles the crown princess will assume when it’s her time. Academically she seems to continue the family trend of ‘maturing late’, but she’s good-looking enough that I wouldn’t mind having her hand me the Nobel price when it’s my turn.
Actually the leaving primeminister advices the King about who he should ask to form a new government. In 1928 after a coalision had failed king Haakon was adviced to ask the biggest party in the coalition(Conservatives) instead of the biggest party(Labour). At this time Labour was still a radical party close to communist and they didn’t expect to be asked because they thought that the king favoured the other parties. But the king asked them and that proved to everyone that the king was neutral.
Popup I doubt that the Norwegian constitution was inspired by the Swedish since Norway’s is from 1814.
Only if they had a time machine, since the Norwegian Constitution was written in 1814 It was written in those few months when Norway was in limbo: Denmark had been forced to give it up, but Sweden had not yet been allowed to take over. Many of those who wrote it hoped it would allow Norway to avoid a union with Sweden entirely; obviously that didn’t work, but it certainly helped in shaping the nature of the union as one of two thrones under one king instead of a fundamentally unequal relationship such as the one with Denmark had been.
Looking at his kids, there’s one thing nobody can deny: he had the sense to marry a woman with very good genes!
Combined with the abolition of State Shinto and the defeat of the Japanese in World War 2, the Emperor not only lost his governmental powers, but also his divine right to rule in the eyes of the people.