To most of us living in republics, the concept of monarchy is something very foreign and harkens to a time long ago. This is usually because the country of residence disposed itself of its monarchy in way or another.
I won’t go into political theory of whether monarchy is better than republicanism or not. There are plenty of books and opinions on the matter abound on the Internet.
All these republics that are no longer monarchies have created the same result: formerly reigning dynasts and their families.
This is a product not only of republics but also of monarchies that through conquest or otherwise replaced the previously reigning dynasty.
Collectively, these former dynasts are called “pretenders” and through custom are permitted to use their prior titles. However, it is a rare occasion where they can do that in the country which they were previously a ruler of.
The better known pretenders are those whose families recently lost their throne or of a large and still extant country. Some of the better known are those of Greece, Serbia, Italy, Bulgaria, etc. In the latter’s case, the pretender to the Bulgarian throne, Simeon of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha who was deposed as a child in 1946 has had a successful political career after the fall of communism becoming the Prime Minister of the country in 2001-2005.
However, we also have pretenders to thrones of kingdoms that have not existed in centuries. Perhaps the most known are the Imperial family of Brazil (various pretenders), the various claimants to the throne of France and those of the Kingdom of Two Sicilies.
Going further back, we can also find pretenders to thrones as old as that of Aragon and Jerusalem.
Though opinions vary on whose claim is the “valid” one, in some cases it is crystal clear. Even with particularly old ones. Perhaps some day, when I feel adventurous, I’ll start looking at the various claims and share my opinion.
All these pretenders, as mentioned, can still use their previously held titles and are recognized in international law as heads of state.