Source: Pexels by Colin Fearing
With the death of Queen Elizabeth II of England, the idea of having a monarch seems to have grown more absurd in the eyes of many. The archaicness of the monarchy is definitely not a new discussion but has been pushed further with King Charles III finally sitting on the throne. For many, which might include you, the monarchy is seen as inferior to a democracy or republic. I am not here to change your mind but I will try my best to advocate in favour of the former.
I have to define my stance before I elaborate on my reasons: I am in favour of constitutional monarchy, not absolute monarchy imposed on a country. I am also not a royalist. Keeping what I am not in support of aside, I will proceed with the most popular argument made against the monarchy:
“We live in a modern world.”
Surely, you will not get me arguing against that statement. Yes, we do live in a modern world with modern rights and modern morality. Why should we, in this modern world, let someone benefit from being called a ‘royal’ just because they are born into the institution? Indeed, it is quite unfair. It is also unfair that I wasn’t born as David Beckham’s daughter so I could have great connections in multiple industries, or into the Depp family so I could easily have an acting career. There isn’t a competition right after you are born that determines what social class you will get into. As a society, we have no ability to create something of the sort.
Approve Queen Elizabeth or not, you have to realise that for most of the world she was the face of Britain…perhaps alongside Harry Potter. What I’m saying is that the role of a monarch is symbolic and representative. The roles of head of government and head of state are not given to the same person. The two interests do not collide with each other – don’t worry, there is still a government that requires election. With all this, what does a monarch bring to the table? I will say stability, action as a neutral body and a vehicle to maintain tradition.
How important is the sense of familiarity? The head of state’s term is a long-term engagement. I ask you, who would you feel is more loyal to you? Someone who has been in a position for a long time or a new face every other election cycle? In a hereditary monarchy, the heir is trained and educated from a very young age on how to be the head of state – responsibilities, public scrutiny and how to keep political opinions out of their duties. This is clearly an advantage over a civilian who hasn’t had such training. We are also aware early on of who comes next in line for the throne. We are already prepared to have them as the head of state. It is not something that is sprung on us out of nowhere like Donald Trump becoming president. I mean, who would have guessed? Then Biden took over; the shift from left to right and right to left on who represents the country has been completely ruinous. A monarch maintains stability by acting as a neutral body.
A monarch doesn’t need to define their political beliefs to the public. They definitely have causes they advocate for but their job is to represent the whole country irrespective of caste, religion, colour, sexuality, sex, gender, political leanings or anything the citizen stands by. The face of the country – the monarch – needs to represent everybody in the sanest manner despite how insane their personal life may be at the time. Say, the prime minister of my country goes to a public gathering as a representative of citizens like me but my ideologies do not match his. I would say he doesn’t represent me or people like me. We find ourselves faced with an obstacle due to the lack of an unbiased figure who will speak neither for the left or the right nor for or against a party but only for the national interest of the country which includes heritage and tradition.
HERITAGE AND TRADITION
Even if we find ourselves with the most advanced technologies (the kind you see in movies) or live in a world that feels completely like science fiction, we will still require traditions and culture to bring a sort of unity that is connected with the past. A monarch’s position is more symbolic, and therein resides a beautiful nostalgia. You may argue that we don’t actually need that – we can survive without it. Without a doubt, most of these traditions come from a time when morality was considerably questionable. The big question is should we get rid of something just because it is old? Imagine a world without any kind of custom or culture. No decoration of Christmas trees, no Indian respecting their elders by touching their feet and no customary introduction of families at a Nigerian wedding – all of the above carry traditions which make the world beautiful to look at. If your reason to abolish monarchy is that it’s too old to survive in the modern world, then we should abolish all traditions, symbols of the past – in fact we should abolish religion. But, let’s be honest, we don’t see that happening anytime soon.
Now, allow me to speak purely of statistics.
Norway, the most democratic country, has a constitutional monarchy and is a good example to start with: King Harald V has an approval rating of around 80%. Furthermore, out of the top ten most democratic countries as at 2021, six were constitutional monarchies. The 2021 Social Progress Index includes twelve constitutional monarchies among the top 20. In 2019, Forbes listed the five safest countries for LGBT+ individuals; four of them have a monarch. Let’s look at safety in general: according to the Global Peace Index 2022, seven of the top 20 safest countries have a monarch as the head of state.
I am not implying that constitutional monarchy is solely responsible for the well-being of these countries. The stats instead imply that countries with a supposedly outdated structure of government do not suffer in the modern world but are rather shown to make progress. So, clearly, monarchy is not holding them back.
One of the main features of democracy, the modern world’s best friend, is the prioritisation of freedom of speech. GSDI’s 2020 list of 30 countries with the highest ratings of freedom of speech includes 11 nations with a monarch. The United States landed at number 13 alongside Luxembourg and Peru. How is it that constitutional monarchy performs democracy better than purely democratic countries?
The United States has a representative democracy. Let’s not pretend that the power possessed by the people shapes the country drastically. The vital decisions are made by the representatives, not the people. Surely, the representatives are representative because the people chose them. At least, the majority of the people chose them. Most regret their decision once the politician begins their term. In the States, around 60% of the population want abortion to be legal, but shall we look the other way and pretend that the people’s decision is what was enacted? It wasn’t. It was the elected judges’ decision that was made final. How many were they? Six. Six people decided what was right “for the people” despite the majority saying otherwise. Democracy doesn’t seem to have an upper hand over constitutional monarchy.
Supporting monarchy is not utterly absurd. A monarch, however, should be looked at more as a servant of the country than a ruler. They have a duty to the nation for which they are liable. In terms of acting as a source of unity, boosting morale or loyalty, constitutional monarchs are a much better and a more stable choice for the head of state.