The Difference Between ‘Rule’ and ‘Reign’

Oghenovo Obrimah, PhD
5 min readDec 16, 2018

Whenever a person ‘rules’ or ‘reigns’ , he or she exercises authority over others. While a person who reigns — a monarch — derives authority from some notion of Sovereignty, sources of rulers’ authority can be as diverse as aggregate sample of rulers.

Consider that while Queen Elizabeth of England derives her now ‘notional’ authority from sovereignty of the United Kingdom, and her supposedly God given authority (not questioning divine right, merely displaying neutral agnosticism, after all, I was not present at institution of British monarchy, cannot prove God given authority, but then again my opinion is irrelevant, all that matters is Britons believe), the Prime Minister of Britain derives authority for ruling from her party, and people who voted her party into power.

An important difference between a monarch and a ruler? Were Queen Elizabeth to be deposed, her authority cannot be revoked, only can cease to be recognized. Prime Minister May’s authority? If indeed she has agreed to step down at completion of the Brexit process, her authority already is in process of being revoked.

Rulers’ authority always can be revoked. Given their divine right once was acknowledged, recognized, monarch’s authority only can cease to be recognized. But then again, each of ‘revoked authority’, and ‘authority no longer recognized’ receive state funded retirement income. Qualitatively then, is the outcome not in entirety the same?

Across the world, there are rulers who derive authority from their country’s military (e.g. Myanmar), from their party but not from the people (e.g. China), from their people and their party (e.g. USA), or from no one in particular (e.g. Burundi, a country governed by a President who, in order to remain in power, violated the country’s constitution).

Consider China and the USA, two countries governed by rulers, but with one country ruled in context of a democracy, the other in context of communism. Few if any would argue that current leadership of China does not to a large extent attempt to rule for benefit of the people. We…

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Oghenovo Obrimah, PhD

Educator and Researcher, Believer in Spirituality, Life is serious business, but we all are pilgrims so I write about important stuff with empathy and ethos