In the past, the role of a king was to rule a kingdom. Historical kings had complete domain and made all government decisions. In contemporary culture, the role of kings is mostly symbolic. They actively engage in rituals that reflect national tradition rather than political influence.
Historically, kings were solely responsible for the well-being of their kingdoms. Although they had a court with whom they consort on occasion, the king held the ultimate power and little could be done or said to question his authority. Most nations that were formerly ruled by kings, however, now have some sort of constitution in place that prescribes a more democratic approach to government. The role of royals, in such cases, is now more to serve as the face of their kingdoms. The royalty maintains formal titles and acts as heads of their nation but have little, if any, political power. In the case of commonwealths, such as that of Great Britain, the king or queen is also a uniting force for all of the member nations and territories. Kings also represent traditional rites that no longer have much political significance but are important to national pride and maintain important roles within respective cultures.