baudrunner's space: Why monarchy?
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Monday, January 21, 2008

Why monarchy?

While some may question the legitimacy of granting to what one might rightly consider for the most part to have been as often as not extortionists and murderers the right to a hereditary monarchy based on absolute rule, one cannot deny that historically aggressive leadership of lands in what has always been a competitive world was the prime mover for the development of cultural, social, and economic success and prosperity, not to mention contributing to the unique traits characterized by the "common" people of the land. In all fairness to the former and present reigning and officially recognized royal families, alliances through marriage and mutually advantageous trade agreements have been the stimulus for peaceful co-existence as a preferred course toward positive growth and development during the time of monarchical rule. That having been said, the historical trend of nations has been for governments of, for, and by the people to systematically remove authoritative rule from those same families who had pretty much represented the backbones of their national identities in favour of constitutional democratic republics and democratic constitutional monarchies. In short, people have found a better way to rule their country, through democracy and fair representation of the population. Which begs the question, why is there still monarchy in the modern world in this day and age?

Prior to the Congress of Vienna in 1815, after the Napoleonic wars, there were nearly 400 states of Europe. Of these, 350 were German, most with their own monarch. The Congress reduced this number to 38, and by 1905 these were further reduced to 26, with the king of Prussia as Emperor of Germany. After World War 1, Germany became a republic.

Europe currently has only ten reigning monarchs, the majority of them in the countries of Scandinavia and on the north-west coast of the mainland - Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, the Netherlands and Belgium. The United Kingdom and Spain round out the remaining nations. Liechtenstein and Monaco are Principalities whose Monarchs are Princes. Luxembourg has a Grand Duchy. Those families that had ruled up until the end of the first world war are lost, deposed, and/or exiled.

By the Congress of Vienna, the many other European royal families are still recognized. That's where all those fancy titles and multi-hyphenated names come from that we occasionally read in the papers when a member of one of those now defunct houses marries. For what it's worth, it makes good fodder for the royal watchers.

That the current monarchs do not actually rule makes their state of existence seem somewhat redundant. Their positions have been maintained for the most part through the largess of the people, since most if not all receive an allowance from the state. However, in most cases the families have been the prime movers of commerce, particularly with respect to the families of Norway and of the Netherlands, and their positions are as much earned as granted. This somewhat justifies their claim to the monarchical tradition, and the rightful ownership of their legitimate land holdings and properties cannot be denied.

In the case of the United Kingdom, the family is not allowed to conduct their own business within the country, as that would constitute a conflict of interest. Even though Charles, the king in waiting...and waiting... is the Duke of Cornwall, he cannot claim profit from that Duchy's rich lands, and all moneys earned therefrom must be returned to the county.

It seems that the duties of today's royal families are largely public relations oriented. The following excerpt from a somewhat compacted synopsis of European royal history does seem to say it all...

"Whether the public feels that the Monarchy is an archaic tradition in Europe or a magnificent asset, the remaining reigning Royal Families have managed to spin themselves back into popularity and a MORI poll in the United Kingdom in 2004 found that 71% of people in the UK favour Britain retaining the monarchy."
For my part, I wouldn't really want the job. It seems that all the fun has been taken out of it.

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