It is a form of government in which the head is a prince, usually in a relatively small state or a state that falls within a larger state such as an empire. The principalities were politically speaking, small regions that depended on the medieval metropolis.

The generally recognized surviving sovereign principalities are Liechtenstein, Monaco, and the co-principality of Andorra. The term ‘principality’ is often used informally to describe Wales as it currently exists, but this has no constitutional basis. The Principality of Wales existed in the northern and western parts of Wales between the 13th and 16th centuries; The Laws of Wales Act 1536, which legally incorporated Wales into England, removed the distinction between those areas and that of Wales, but no principality encompassing all of Wales was created. Since then, the title Prince of Wales (along with the Duke of Cornwall and the Duke of Rothesay, among other titles) has traditionally been granted to the heir to the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom, but does not confer any responsibility for governance in Wales. . It has country status and is one of four countries in the UK. The Principality of Catalonia existed in the northeast areas of Spain between the 9th and 18th centuries and based its sovereignty on the “Constitutions of the Principality of Catalonia”, until the defeat of the Catalans in the succession to the throne of what they were at that time. commonly named as “the kingdoms of Spain” (1701-1714).

The term principality is also sometimes used generically for any petty monarchy, especially petty sovereign states ruled by a monarch of lesser rank than a king, such as a Fürst (as in Liechtenstein), a grand duke. There is currently no sovereign duchy, but Luxembourg is a surviving example of a sovereign grand duchy. Historically there have been sovereign principalities with many styles of ruler, such as Countships, Margraviates, and even Lordships; Especially within the Holy Roman Empire.

While the definition above seems to fit a princely state perfectly, the European historical tradition is to reserve that word for native monarchies in colonial countries and to apply “principality” to Western monarchies.

Principalities have existed in ancient and modern civilizations in Africa, Asia, pre-Columbian America, and Oceania.