The democratic cost of monarchy

Can we really describe countries with constitutional monarchy as democratic? While monarchy is long been abolished from many modern western states there still exists a divergence in the way that many states have abolished the rule of the royal family.

For example in Greece the Royal family was stripped off their wealth and had to forgo their right from the throne and its political powers. For the people of Greece a monarch, especially one who supports military dictatorship against an elected democratic leader, should have no rights, role or function in a democratic country. On the other hand countries like the UK and the Netherlands the members of the crown are treated as members of an above the law, elitist institution.

In some countries in Europe the extremely outdated law of Lèse-majesté is still in effect. So in October 2007, in the Netherlands a 47-year-old man was fined €400 for describing several obscene sexual acts he would like to perform against Queen Beatrix to a police officer.

The reality is that while a large part of the public is largely indifferent to the royals they are nevertheless happy to have an extra public holiday to mark different celebrations like Queen’s or King’s jubilee.

The cause for every democratic society should be simple and clear as Graham Smith has put it: It’s about democratic reform and a rejection of inherited power and privilege.

A republic must be inheritably at odds with monarchy because: monarchy is wrong in principle, in practice and it is wrong politically.

A democratic society means we should adhere to democratic values, such as equality of citizenship, freedom to participate in government, accountability and transparency. How can this coexist with a head of state that is put there for life and by birth? Simply put, a democratic society that believes in the rule of a government ‘by the people and for the people’ should have no place for a hereditary monarch.

Monarchy as an institution does not fit any modern political scheme of a democratic state. Monarchy is secretive as it continuously lobbies to have its affairs away from public scrutiny, or it lobbies various government ministers for even greater improvements to its financial benefits and for its own private agenda. Not to mention how costly monarchy is to the general public. An independent organization in the UK estimated the cost of the British royal family up to £202 million a year more than double the cost of the Dutch royalty.

For one to understand the privileged position monarchy enjoys in many western countries one just has to consider some facts, such as the fact that the queen and Prince Charles must be asked for consent before the British parliament can debate any legislation that affects their private interests. Monarchy is politically wrong because it undermines the authority of the people the making it a central feature to the country’s constitution. Is the “Crown” not the people the supreme authority of the country with powers that cannot be challenged not even in a court of law.

In several western constitutional monarchies the Crown is handed through questionable constitutional arrangements excessive powers. This relationship between the Crown and the government most likely explains the hostility every government has shown to anyone who voices their resentment against the royal family. Their arguments tend to paint a romantic picture of the royal family, of course only with the stories and facts that fit their purpose. In any case it is almost forbidden for anyone to conduct and present a true, analysis and narrative of the role of monarchy in history. Another great argument the royalists use is the iconic purpose and use of the royal family which generates tourism and offers prestige to the country.

The problem with this argument is that there are no facts to back this up. A nation’s history can be a source for generating tourism there is no doubt on that, but a country should have the gut to put an end to an outdated institution like monarchy and move on.

In the last 60 or even more years can anyone quote a great speech or note a great moment in a nation’s history coming from a monarch? So what is the role of the monarch? If there is nothing noteworthy to remember, not a single moment of leadership or inspiration then why a country should clink on to such a costly, useless and damaging institution?

Monarchy offers little but an empty chair where an inspiring figure could have stood. These are the reasons why all free citizens should reject monarchy whenever is still in power and demand real democratic change.


4 thoughts on “The democratic cost of monarchy

  1. Alessandro

    And what we can do, in democracy, when presidents and parliaments quickly rise above the law? They become not only judge but but legislator….nowadays our subjective rights are precarious and at the good pleasure of authority.

  2. Zeus

    If you were really such a “democrat” you would have asked for a referendum (indigenous only) on the matter.

    You clearly haven’t studied much history if you believe “monarchy offers little but an empty chair where an inspiring figure could have stood”. Let me guess, Alexis Tsipras is your idea of “inspired leadership”. LOL.

    1. Not everyone that has something against monarchy is a communist or a supporter of Syriza or Tsipras. I don’t even vote in in Greece since i am not an indigenous Greek but a Greek Cypriot. The post was just some thoughts about how perhaps more ‘autocratic imperial’ expressions of democratic rule countries with parliamentary monarchy practice. It was not even addressed to the Greek royal family but more on the British monarchy. Its sad and pathetic the fact that you thought that you can make your point by making an ironic comment while having such misplaced assumptions. Take care and thanks for the comment

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