Long live the monarchy? Twelve countries are sovereign monarchies in Europe today. These include seven EU members (Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom), as well as Norway, Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco, and Vatican City.
Supporters argue that monarchs rise above party politics, bringing political stability, respect for tradition and a sense of national pride. Critics, meanwhile, argue that an unelected hereditary monarchy is an anachronism in a democratic society.
What do our readers think? We had a comment from Rueben arguing that the “price we pay” for hereditary, unelected monarchs is too high. He believes that monarchies are from a bygone era, and ends his comment with a stirring “Long live republics.” But is he right?
Reueben has a very good point here, but we have to look at what the institution means to the nation. Case in point, in the Netherlands the tax payer does pay for the king. He makes about 800,000 euros a year to do his kinging. But there’s something to be said for what the tax payer pays in the Netherlands; we have unity, we have steward of custodianship of the past, we have a uniting factor for the present, but we also have a crown that shouldn’t be known for the power that it has, but the power it denies overzealous politicians of really usurping the role of the crown, in wanting to be partisan. That’s what it is here.
So, it is a safeguard in the day of overzealous politicians. It is a mechanism, such as the case in point, Belgium and Spain, when the political government shuts down the people don’t suffer, because the sovereign is there. The sovereign keeps the nation going with ministers. Day-to-day business doesn’t stop, as it does in a republics like America.
Here in the United Kingdom, the taxpayer doesn’t exactly pay for the crown. It is self-sufficient through the crown estate. So, there are a few differences there. But what crowns do is a lot more value than expense.
Monarchies are indeed very expensive. Research has shown that they are far more expensive than republics. It does depend, though, on the way the heads of state of the republic is elected. If it’s a ceremonial head of state, like in Ireland or Switzerland, this can be done, for example, by parliament or by a simple election. But if it’s an executive head of state like in France, the costs are different.
But monarchies are expensive because you have to pay not only the head of state but also the whole family, and you pay them all their lives. Many of the costs connected to the monarchy are hidden in call kinds of budgets which citizens don’t see. So, even if governments say monarchies are not that expensive, you should be very reluctant to believe that and look into the actual costs of the monarchy very carefully to find out how much it costs each citizen.
Do European monarchies still have a purpose? Or are they unelected and expensive institutions from a bygone era? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!