There are currently only three are Kingdoms, Two of these are constitutional monarchies (Lesotho and Morocco), in which the king is bound by laws and rules in the exercise of his or her powers, and one is an absolute monarchy (Swaziland), in which the King rules without bounds.


Lesotho is surrounded by South Africa, it’s a constitutional elective Kingdom. The current government was established in 1824 when Moshoeshoe I, a tribal chieftain, united warring clans into the Basotho kingdom. After his death in 1870, the kingdom was placed under the nominal control of the neighbouring British Cape Colony, but the local tribes engaged in a revolution and full British control was not established until 1884 under the name Basutoland. While under British control, the monarchy continued under the title of Paramount Chief with a moderate degree of sovereignty, particularly in the rural areas. Formal independence was granted in 1966 and a constitutional monarchy was established. However, the democratically elected government was overthrown in 1970 by the Prime Minister in a self-coup. The monarchy was sidelined from then on, including a military government between 1986 and 1993, when democracy was restored. The current monarch, King Letsie III, ascended to the throne in 1996.

Under the current constitution, passed in 1993, the King is a constitutional monarchy and the head of state, with power being exercised by the Parliament. While in practice hereditary, the King is officially appointed by the College of Chiefs using traditional practices. The College of Chiefs also appoints a regent if one is needed. The Prime Minister also has the power to declare the kingship vacant if the King either violates his oath of office or is deemed unfit to rule.


Morocco, located in the northwestern corner of Africa, has a long and established history dating back to antiquity. Originally Carthaginian, the territory was controlled by the Roman Empire, the Vandals, and the Byzantine Empire before falling under Arab control in the seventh century. During that time, the inhabitants of Morocco were known as Moors. After the Reconquista in 1492, the Moroccan state underwent a long period of decline before falling under dual French and Spanish control in 1912. Independence was achieved in 1956, with Sultan Mohammed ben Youssef taking the title of King Mohammed V. The present King, Mohammed VI, ascended to the throne in 1999.

King Mohammed VI of Morocco
Under the current constitution, passed in 2011, Morocco is a constitutional monarchy though the King maintains a fair amount of power. He is the chair of the Superior Council of the Ulema, charged with maintaining Moroccan Islam, as well as Morocco’s Supreme Court. The King is also an active member of the cabinet of Morocco, having the power to dismiss ministers as well as set the government agenda. He also chairs the Security Council, which oversees the military.


Swaziland, in the southeastern corner of Africa, originated, like Lesotho, as a confederation of African tribes. However, it pre-dates Lesotho by approximately seventy-five years to the mid-eighteenth century. During that time period, chief Ngwane III of the Swazi people moved his tribe to their present location and united with other African tribes. Beginning in the 1830s, British traders and the Boers, Dutch settlers, interacted with the Swazi tribe. Eventually, the illiterate Swazi were deceived into signing agreements which ceded their land to the Boer Republics, who assumed control in 1894. In 1902, after the Boer War, the British assumed control of Swaziland. It was not until 1967 that the Swazi regained control of internal affairs. Independence was granted the following year. For most of the colonial period, the Swazi were ruled by Sobhuza II, who became King upon independence. In 1973, Sobhuza abolished the democratic constitution put in place at the time of independence and declared himself the absolute ruler. Upon his death in 1982, Sobhuza had reigned for eighty-two years, the longest verified reign of any monarch. The present ruler, King Mswati III, became monarch in 1986. A new constitution was established in 1998 which allowed for some degree of democratic rule, but, in practice, Swaziland remains an absolute monarchy and the ability of citizens to participate in the political process is limited.


Leave a Reply