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A regent, from the Latin regens "one who reigns", is a person selected to act as head of state (ruling or not) because the ruler is a minor, not present, or debilitated.[1]

In a monarchy, a regent usually governs due to one of these reasons, but may also be elected to rule during the interregnum when the royal line has died out. This was the case in Finland and Hungary, where the royal line was considered extinct in the aftermath of World War I. In Iceland, the regent represented the King of Denmark as sovereign of Iceland until the country became a republic in 1944.

In the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (1569–1795), kings were elective, which often led to a fairly long interregnum. In the interim, it was the Polish Roman Catholic Primate who served as the regent, termed the "interrex" (Latin: ruler "between kings" as in ancient Rome).

Currently there are only two ruling Regencies in the world, sovereign Liechtenstein and the Malaysian constitutive state of Terengganu (see below).


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