A traditional monarchy is a form of government that gives varying degrees of power to the Head of State, who retains the title for life. Most monarchies in today's world are called constitutional monarchies.
According to Politics Defined, monarchy is one of the world's oldest forms of government, and it traces its roots back to tribal chieftains. Many monarchies are hereditary, and typically, the eldest son of the ruling monarch is the first in line to inherit the throne.
Absolute monarchies grant much more power to the crown. Examples of modern governments with absolute monarchies are Saudi Arabia, Swaziland and Kuwait. Most are constitutional monarchies that separate the duties and powers of government from the ceremonial duties of the crown.
An example of an elected monarchy is the papal office in Rome. Elected by the College of Cardinals, the pope becomes the reigning monarch of Vatican City for the remainder of his life.
Most of the world's monarchies were replaced by republics over the last two centuries. Many were overthrown, but some were simply voted out of existence. Several countries, including Australia and Canada, still recognize the monarchy even though they are sovereign countries with independent systems of government and are no longer British colonies.