Some countries are ruled by a person called a monarch. The monarch may be a king, a queen, an emperor, or an empress. A monarch may even be known by some other title—those of ancient Egypt were called pharaohs. Rule by a monarch is called monarchy.

   The monarchs of ancient times were very powerful. They could do as they pleased with the people they ruled. "Off with his head" was far too common an order when a monarch was displeased. Today most countries ruled by monarchs have laws telling what the ruler can and cannot do to his people. In some cases the ruler has very little power. He is a figure-head. The ruler stands for the country in the minds of his people just as to Americans the flag stands for their country.

   A monarch usually has a crown and a scepter to show that he is the ruler. In most cases the crown and scepter are made of gold. They may have beautiful jewels set in them. The chair on which the ruler sits on state occasions is called a throne.

   The great days of monarchs are over. Not many monarchs are left. England, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and Thailand are among the monarchies of today. A meeting of all the crowned heads of the world would not need a very big room.

   In monarchies the rulers inherit their titles. Every monarchy has its rules as to how the crown is handed down. Queen Elizabeth II of England became queen when her father, George VI, died. George VI be­came king when his brother, Edward VIII, gave up the throne. Edward VIII inherited the crown from his father, George V; George V inherited it from his father, Ed­ward VII; and Edward VII became king when his mother, Queen Victoria, died.

   The family from which the rulers of a monarchy come is called the royal family. In addition to the royal family there are usually other nobles in a monarchy. In England, for instance, there are dukes and earls. The people of a monarchy have a chance to see their ruler and all their nobles at certain great occasions. One of them is the crowning of a new king or queen.