Each new Steward indeed took office with the oath “to hold rod and rule in the name of the king, until he shall return.” But these soon became words of ritual little heeded, for the Stewards exercised all the power of the kings. Yet many in Gondor still believed that a king would indeed return in some time to come; and some remembered the ancient line of the North, which it was rumoured still lived on in the shadows. But against such thoughts the Ruling Stewards hardened their hearts. [They] never sat on the ancient throne; and they wore no crown, and held no sceptre.
Appendix A: Annals of the Kings and Rulers, Lord of the Rings