Many people in the United States are fascinated by royalty. That’s probably because, unlike many other countries, we don’t have kings and queens here in America.

Ready to take a peek under the crown to get the lowdown on royalty? All of us have different ideas about royalty.

Young children, for example, probably think about princesses, like Cinderella, when they hear the word royalty. Others might immediately think of the British royal family, like Princess Diana, or American women who became real-life princesses, like Princess Grace of Monaco.

Kings, queens, princes and princesses — they seem like larger-than-life figures who live privileged, almost-magical lives. Yet, they’re also human beings like the rest of us. No one can deny, though, that they lead lives quite different than most.

Royalty developed centuries ago under the feudal systems of medieval Europe. Under feudalism, a few powerful landowners gained large territories through either military force or purchase.

The mightiest of these landowners was crowned king. Other, less-powerful landowners gained noble titles by pledging their allegiance to the king and managing smaller territories on his behalf.

Over time, a king would die, and his heirs would succeed him, usually according to the rules of inheritance of money and property. Other nobles would pass on their titles and positions to their heirs in a similar way.

In this way, many European countries developed a complex system of royalty over many hundreds of years, including a wide variety of special traditions and rituals. Although Europe was the only place with a true feudal system, monarchies (governments ruled by royal families) also developed in a similar fashion in Japan and the Middle East.

In the 17th to 19th centuries, many monarchies were replaced with democratic governments that featured leaders elected by the people. When this happened, the royal family often kept an important, but mainly symbolic, role in the government, while actual power was held by elected officials.

Were you born into a royal family? Probably not. Let’s face it, the odds are against you. But that’s OK. A very select few people still marry into royal families from time to time.

Before you start searching for a prince by kissing frogs, though, you might want to ask yourself an important question. Would you really want to be royalty?

Sure, the crowns and fancy clothes are nice. But royals are also subjected to intense media scrutiny. Would you want your every move watched by others?

Depending on what country you live in, you might have a royal title that’s something other than king, queen, prince or princess. Here are a few royal titles used now or in the past in other countries:

  • Russia: czar/czarina
  • Asia and Africa: emir
  • Japan and Ancient Rome: emperor/empress
  • Ancient Egypt: pharaoh
  • India: raja
  • Iran: shah
  • Muslim countries: sultan

 

46 Join the Discussion

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    • What an AWESOME comment you left for us today, Hailey! Thank you for telling us that you love Wonderopolis and that you enjoyed today’s Wonder video! We think it would be fun and exciting to see royalty in real life, too! :-)

  1. I wonder…why do princes and princesses have to marry each other? They have nice clothes. The prince wears a whole lot of stuff on his clothes.

    • Hello, Nick! We sure enjoyed receiving your comment today! Sometimes, princes and princesses get to marry ordinary (non-royal) people, too! Grace Kelley, a famous Hollywood actress from the 1950′s, married Prince Rainier of Monaco and became Her Serene Highness Princess Grace of Monaco! There are many more real-people-turned-royalty stories to WONDER about, too! :-)

  2. I want to be royal so I can be making the country better. It will be so nice and I can help someone and you can, too.

    • We think that’s a WONDERful reason to want to become a royal, Caleb! We’re super proud of you for thinking of others and wanting to make the world a better place! :-)

  3. Would you like to be royalty, I wonder? Yes, I will be the royal princess. They are rich, and I want to be a royal king, too.

    • Thanks so much for this GREAT comment, Demari! We think it would be FUN to be a queen or king for a day! Just imagine all of the WONDERful things we could do! :-)

  4. I wish I could be royalty. You know, my mom’s cousin is retired now, but he used to play for the Steelers, so I guess I’m almost royalty.

    • That’s really neat that you have a relative who used to play in the NFL, Mak! We think it would be cool to be royalty, too, even if for just a day! :-)

    • Thanks for visiting today’s Wonder and sharing your feelings about being royalty, Wonder Friend 18TIGERS! We like hearing from our Wonder Friends and appreciate your comment very much! :-)

    • We like that you thought about what personal traits you might need if you were royal, Hanna6! We think you’d make a GREAT princess, and we already know you’re a GREAT Wonder Friend! :-)

  5. :) :) :) :) :)
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    • We’re happy that YOU’RE happy today, Taralee! We hope you’re happy because you visited today’s Wonder of the Day® and learned some new things about being royal! Thanks for leaving us such a cheerful comment! :-)

    • Hello, Tyler! Thanks so much for letting us know why you think you could be royalty! We’re glad you got to hang out in Wonderopolis today! :-)

    • That’s a very creative way of thinking about it, Wyatt! We hope you enjoyed learning some cool new things about real royals by exploring today’s Wonder of the Day®! Thanks for visiting Wonderopolis! :-)

  6. I really liked this Wonder. I learned that sometimes royalty isn’t always perfect. Almost everyone is watching your every move. I also learned that it is a very unlikely chance you are apart of a royal family. It makes me wonder a couple things… Am I a part of a royal family? I wouldn’t want to be royalty. I don’t feel comfortable when people are watching me.

    –Hannah from Team Turner

    • It’s true that many people (like “royal watchers” and photographers) keep a close eye on royals and the things they do every minute of every day, Hannah. Thank you for sharing all the great things you learned from today’s Wonder!

    • Yes they are, Kayla! Thank you for visiting today’s Wonder and for sharing what you thought about the video! Have a WONDERful day! :-)

  7. Hi, my name is Nour, and I just stumbled on this WONDERFUL website while I was looking for the meaning of “make hay while the sun shines,” and guess what? I found it, then I checked out the WONDER of the day and found out some royal facts. I also made ALL of the activities, then I gave them to my sister. I want to be royalty and be a king and save the world from pollution.

    • Welcome to Wonderopolis, Nour! We’re so glad you found us and that you left us this awesome comment today! We’re also SUPER happy that you learned some new facts about proverbs (like the one, “make hay while the sun shines”) and what it’s like to be royalty, AND that you shared Wonderopolis with your sister, too! That’s AWESOME! Wanting to become a king so you can save the world from pollution is a very NOBLE gesture…way to go! :-)

    • We think this Wonder of the Day® is really cool, too, Missy! We hope you learned a lot from exploring it! Thanks for being an awesome Wonder Friend! :-)

  8. You know, I’m related to the guy who Dracula was based off of. His name is Vlad Dracula Tepes, and my last name is Tepe. And if the shoe fits…

    • WOW! What a cool family history, Ninja Girl! Thank you for sharing your personal connection to this Wonder of the Day®! :-)

  9. Actually, I think I am related to some king of some sort. I’m not sure what his name is, but my mom said she had to do a family tree project when she was in school, and found out she was related to some king. I think I should research him. What do you think, Wonderopolis?

    • We think it would be an AWESOME adventure for you to research your ancestors, Sharkysharky! Let us know what you discover! :-)

    • It would be fun to step into royal shoes for a day, wouldn’t it, Leila? Thank you for sharing your comment with us today! :-)

    • Thanks for leaving us another great comment today and for letting us know you would like to be royalty, Kami! We think it would be fun, also! :-)

  10. I wish I was her. She is now royalty and Kate’s dress was so pretty. If I were her, I’d be living the life!

    • Thanks for letting us know what you think about being royalty, Ally! We’re glad you stopped by Wonderopolis today! :-)

    • Thanks for sharing your AWESOME comment with us today, Aparajita! You taught us about something (or someone) new! We had never heard of Rani of Jhansi before. We’re curious to learn more about her, so off we go to do some WONDERing! :-)

  11. I agree with Leila, I wish I was royalty, also! At least for week! I liked the video, they look like they’re mean’t for each other!

    • He he, we Wonder how different our lives would be if we were royalty! Thanks for sharing your comment, Jenna! We are going to use our imaginations today to Wonder about royalty! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Could you be royalty?
  • How did royalty develop?
  • What other royal titles have been used around the world?

Wonder Gallery

Try It Out

Think you’ve got what it takes to be a king or a queen? What about a prince or a princess? Maybe a czar, an emperor or a sultan?

Many young kids love to pretend to be royalty. After all, what’s not to like?

You get to dress up in fancy clothes and do whatever you like! You get to decide what others must do, as well.

If you want to set up your own royal household, you might need a few royal supplies. Grab a friend or family member, get some art supplies and have fun making some of these royal crafts:

 

Still Wondering

Check out EDSITEment’s Not Everyone Lived in Castles During the Middle Ages lesson to learn about the lifestyle of the wealthy elite during the Middle Ages.

 

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