WASHINGTON, DC—After nearly three decades in exile, King William IV returned to the U.S. to reclaim his throne Monday.

King William IV greets his subjects upon his return to Washington.

"Good people of America," said the newly restored monarch, speaking from a White House balcony. "Let the word be spread throughout the land that your king has returned."

"Prepare a feast!" added His Majesty amid a fanfare of trumpets.

Citizens were overjoyed by the monarchic restoration.

"Huzzah!" said Diane Sowell of State College, PA. "At long last, we are rid of that corrupt, antiquated system of government known as democracy, a system that has done nothing but maintain the status quo of political inequality, economic stagnation, and social injustice. Our good king will change all that."

Overthrown in 1973 by democratic extremists, King William fled to the Mediterranean island of Malta, where he had lived for the past 29 years. Throughout his time in exile, the king closely monitored the political climate in America, waiting for the right moment to return. When word of the Sept. 11 attacks reached him, he decided he could wait no longer. Assembling a small traveling party, he set sail across the Atlantic to reclaim his throne.

On Aug. 20, following a months-long, detour-filled odyssey over land and sea, the king and his traveling companions arrived at Annapolis, MD, where he revealed his true identity to a naval detachment and persuaded it to accompany him to Washington. As the royal entourage neared the capital, word spread that the long-deposed monarch was on his way back. By the time William reached the D.C. city limits Monday, an estimated 400,000 elated supporters had amassed along the banks of the Potomac River to show their support for the bloodless coup.

"My devoted subjects, the time has come to right a great wrong so many years old," the sovereign told the cheering crowd. "Scores remain to be settled and, in time, all will receive their due. But for now, let the word go forth that your king is come."

Marching up the National Mall flanked by a 2,500-unit regiment of loyalist troops, King William entered the National Archives, where he smashed a display case with his wooden staff and retook the crown, scepter, and red-white-and-blue ermine robes of his office.

The king then stormed into the Capitol building, the former site of the Royal Aviary, and announced his return, formally dissolving Congress by royal decree. He ordered all legislators to return to their homes, with the exception of Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-SC), whom the king locked in the royal dungeon for his role in the 1973 ouster.

According to a spokesman for King William, the 50 state governors will be permitted to retain their posts under the revised title of Lord until further notice from the Crown. President Bush will also be allowed to retain his title, though he will function in a figurehead capacity with no real power.

Buoyed by the news of the restored constitutional monarchy, the Dow Jones soared past 14,000 Monday. Minutes after the closing bell, however, the resurrected Ministry of Finance closed down the stock market, announcing that the generosity of the Royal Treasury will provide for all.

Beltway pundits see the restoration as a welcome development.

"Under democracy, millions of needy Americans slipped through the cracks," McLaughlin Group commentator Eleanor Clift said. "King William will, by God's grace, see all monies fairly distributed, and the truly deserving will be helped."

Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC's Hardball, applauded the king's return but questioned some of his policies. "As much as I support welfare reform," Matthews said, "replacing it with a nationwide network of debtor's prisons, as His Majesty plans, strikes me as a little extreme. Still, it can't be much worse than what we've had."

"Our nation is whole once more," said King William, speaking from his horse-drawn carriage during a procession down Pennsylvania Avenue. "God save the king of these good United States of America."