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?

For European Monarchies

Thomas Mace-Archer-Mills, Founder and Director, British Monarchists Society

Against European Monarchies

Hans Maessen, Chair, Republican Society

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!

Image Credits: (cc) WikiMedia – Carfax2; Portrait Credits: Mace-Archer-Mills (c) Fred Pearson Photography


177 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

    • avatar
      Uli

      and which? tabloid employment?

  1. avatar
    Любомир

    Of course they have. Some of the European monarchies are among the most democratic and civilized countries in the world. Do democracy, prosperity and civilization still have a purpose? What do you think?

    • avatar
      Charlotta

      Of course democracy, prosperity and civilization still have a purpose. In my view, monarch does not. I would not say that these European monarchies are democratic because of them being monarchies, so your argument does not hold. Take for example Sweden, in what way would it impact democracy if there would be no royal family? I would say, if anything, positively.

  2. avatar
    John-romi

    Yes , the monarchies look more for the people and country , and the political parties care more the corporations and themself.

  3. avatar
    Павел

    Yes, to spend taxpayers money.

  4. avatar
    Marco

    I strongly disagree with monarchy and nobilty. the idea that a person has a specific role or dignity based on his/her ancestry is clearly contrary to the basic principle of equality among humans. Of course EU monarchies and nobilties respect the rules of democray, but it is a matter of principle. Noone should be considered more or less important because of his/her surname.

    • avatar
      Charlotta

      I fully agree with this, it preempts the comment I was planning to make. And it is indeed this principle of equality, much more than the costs, that bothers me.

    • avatar
      Florian

      Absolutely right. There is nothing to add or argue about. All other considerations are secondary and cannot outweigh such fundamental principle.

  5. avatar
    Civis

    In some countries – e.g. Belgium – the monarchy is one of the few building blocks that keep a divided country together, so yes they do.

    • avatar
      Anonymous

      It wouldn’t be a huge loss if the frail state of BE would collapse.

  6. avatar
    Sheila

    Yes absolutely . And proud . Better than any country with a dictator in charge.

    • avatar
      Filipe

      Saudi Arabia is a monarchy, and I believe you wouldn’t like to live there.

    • avatar
      Sheila

      no i wouldn’t . But that’s a dictatorship in disguise.

  7. avatar
    Nelson

    A King or Queen can be outside the political games, a President is still – in the first place – a politician… He will never quit his party and will never put the interest of the people in front of the interest of his party…

  8. avatar
    Vivian Wildeboer

    Well, I think the question of whether or not they serve a purpose seems to be under discussed in the two point above. Their purpose is named in a few throwaway lines, and most of the discussion is about what they cost.
    And yes, they cost a lot, but there are ways to mitigate that. But they bring something that is not easy to quantify, making it much harder to say weather or not they are ‘worth’ it.
    I think certain parts can be updated, but I also see a lot of royal families are indeed modernizing, especially in Europe. Monarchies in Asia and Arabia tend to be more ‘powerful’ and conservative.

  9. avatar
    Debating Europe

    A King or Queen can be outside the political games, a President is still – in the first place – a politician… He will never quit his party and will never put the interest of the people in front of the interest of his party…

  10. avatar
    Николай

    Yes to live on the back of the labor class

    • avatar
      Sheila

      And all the money they bring in from tourism. Get a life !

    • avatar
      Николай

      Rofl

    • avatar
      Любомир

      Because political parties and Presidents don’t live on the backs of taxpayers and the working class…

    • avatar
      Николай

      They are, but not for hundreds of years. Check the annual keep of any of the royals. God damn iliterarats

  11. avatar
    Paul

    Since when was it obligatory for everything to have a purpose ?

  12. avatar
    Ludwig

    The cost more than a football team.

  13. avatar
    Marco

    Yes! One of the cornerstones to a common history and identity. Plus the royal tourism-led dollars are surely a plus.

    • avatar
      Max

      Thought that Portugal was a republic.

    • avatar
      Marco

      You are correct Max 👍🏻

    • avatar
      Kat

      I’d like to propose that tourism-led income isn’t actually as sustainable argument as many monarchists like to believe. In fact, VisitBritain.org (the UK’s national tourist agency) fails to come up with any figures to support the claim that the British Monarchy brings in money from tourists. That is, of course, to the best of my research, which could very well be countered. Would love to hear what your thoughts are! Cheers

  14. avatar
    Dennis

    NO. Monarchs have no place in democracy.

  15. avatar
    Dan

    They have a purpose: leech off the population of the country in wich they claim God said they are royalty. It’s a horrible purpose, but a purpose nontheless.

  16. avatar
    Olivier

    Mind your business it s not a European issue…

    • avatar
      Debating Europe

      Thanks for your comment. We launch debates on a whole range of issues which are of interest to our audience. Monarchies being one of them. Keep debating!

    • avatar
      Irene

      How rude!

    • avatar
      Любомир

      It’s not rude. How the European nations govern their own countries isn’t and shouldn’t be EU’s business. It’s entirely the business of the citizens of each country and it should be up to them, no one else.

    • avatar
      Olivier

      Debating Europe I don t Thi k that Europe should interfere in every topic… EU is not able to rules major topics such as schengen social and tax policy Gafa taxation… Foreign policy why should it interfere in national subjects. Recent election showed that many Europeans are still attached to nation

    • avatar
      Debating Europe

      Olivier, you do know we’re not the EU, right?

    • avatar
      Olivier

      well I guess you are an EU agency

    • avatar
      Debating Europe

      Olivier, nope. Sorry to disappoint.

    • avatar
      Irene

      The members of the European parliament are elected by the citizens. The European council is constituted by the prime ministers of the member states which are elected by the citizens of the countries. The leaders of each organ are also chosen by the member states’ representatives and have to be approved by the members of the European parliament.
      I see elected members of parliament debating and deciding. I see elected ministers of the member states meeting and making decisions.

  17. avatar
    Olivier

    Monarchy is the best symbol of people unity.. And monarchs do care about the national interest… And they are not bound by short term interest….

  18. avatar
    Filipe

    The most important aspect of a political system is not whether it’s a monarchy or a republic. It’s whether it’s a democracy or a dictatorship. There are monarchies and republics of both kinds. I live in a republic and I prefer it, but I wouldn’t mind to live in a constitutional and democratic monarchy.

  19. avatar
    Max

    Dual citizen here. IDGAF. One of my passports is to a monarchy. The other is to a republic. That distinction makes almost zero impact on the quality of life or efficiency of government in either country or in the quality of life the everyday citizens experience.

  20. avatar
    Manuel

    Yes, to sell popular magazines !

  21. avatar
    Luigi

    Maybe not, but organized crime does, and it doesn’t seem to be much of an issue.

  22. avatar
    catherine benning

    Do European monarchies still have a purpose?

    It appears DE has a reluctance to discuss the full aspect of their question here regarding ‘purpose’ of such firms as monarchies.

    As we move into a modern age, in a society of scientific verification, I feel it is imperative those who claim ‘special and unequal rights of birth, such as Royalty, to claim rights to millions a year from tax payers to subsidise their phenomenal wealth. Surely, they must be willing and ready to have DNA tests in order to verify their claims. A lifelong stipend of millions of pounds, annually, should be, at very least, scrutinised by those paying the bill for pretenders.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=641Oyk3d5HM

  23. avatar
    Charlotta

    Definitely no. While I can, to some extent, sympathize with the idea of national unity in certain countries, there are also abundant examples of countries where this does not play a role. Expenses aside, this idea that someone is born into a certain role accompanied with lifelong privileges goes very much against the principle of equality. Some might argue that the role comes with duties too, but even if one would assume these duties make any sense, what makes these people best fitted for those duties? I find this idea that someone is born into something very strange in our current European context and it goes very much against the value of equal opportunities.

  24. avatar
    Rupert Strachwitz

    As a died-in-the-wool democrat, I would like to point out that democracy is not the only basic principle on which modern liberal societies are built. The rule of law, human and civil rights, and our cultural traditions are the others of equal rank – as laid down many times in formal world-wide and European declarations. Since democracy does not always do as well as one might hope they do, it is highly important to uphold the others. To this end, non-elected institutions with well-defined limited powers and an imbued sense of responsibility have an important role to play as guardians and watchdogs; by and large, modern monarchies have lived up to that expectation. Also, cultural traditions are important in keeping society together in the face of a whole range of modern trends, which, not to be misunderstood, I do not deplore and would not like to see reversed. In this respect, we might learn from African kings and chieftains, who no longer enjoy any constitutional position whatsoever and are yet highly relevant for the citizens by whom they are well respected. Or look at the Tenno in Japan, whose position as a ruling monarch is arguably the weakest of all, while being held in the highest possible esteem by the people of Japan.
    So, with Europe growing together, with or without the United Kingdom, the constitutional position of national heads of state, monarchs and others, may change quite fundamentally, but their role in society, and particularly that of non-political monarchs, may continue to be an important one.

  25. avatar
    Chris

    Some countries are not suitable for being republics.

  26. avatar
    Hicham

    No ! Monarchies are just a waste of taxpayers Money

  27. avatar
    David

    Sure they do to eat tax payers Money and to deviate the people´s attentions so the corrupt polititions can get their way.

  28. avatar
    Steffan

    You think we are asked or allowed to vote on this? If that wasn’t enough they are excempt from justies and the rule of the country in many ways, and above the commen law. We have no ideer what they are doing and with whom, cause there is a weil around them both of regulation and of royalty. We had a saying. No one is better then other off of birth, but still we idolize our oppressors of the past.

  29. avatar
    Liz

    For who?! For their homeless people in the front of parliament?

  30. avatar
    Любомир

    This is a question that the Europeans living under monarchy are to decide for themselves. Who are we to tell them?

    • avatar
      Steffan

      You think we are asked or allowed to vote on this? If that wasn’t enough they are excempt from justies and the rule of the country in many ways, and above the commen law. We have no ideer what they are doing and with whom, cause there is a weil around them both of regulation and of royalty. We had a saying. No one is better then other off of birth, but still we idolize our oppressors of the past.

    • avatar
      Любомир

      I literally didn’t understand anything from your comment. What are you talking about?

  31. avatar
    Alfredo

    More than many Presidential Republics

  32. avatar
    HJo

    I think the Royals are kind of living Museum… People like to go to Museums and people like to care for the Royals.

  33. avatar
    Sheila

    Yes absolutely. Who wants a dictatorship ?
    Love the Royal family .

    • avatar
      Michael

      That’s the face most of us have been making at the Bri’ish for quite awhile now. No matter how hard you stare at them, though, it never makes sense.

  34. avatar
    Miguel

    short answer no (monarchy is a stupid concept since the French Revolution)

    • avatar
      Paschalis

      and presidential systems have been any better… Lol

    • avatar
      Miguel

      I prefer parlaments actualy

    • avatar
      Marco

      Monarchs serve as a symbol of national unity, of common values and history of a people. Plus, take the UK for an example, generate quite a fair amount of interest in the form of tourism

    • avatar
      Miguel

      yes… but in today day and age its a circus more than anything

    • avatar
      Marco

      that’s something you can’t control… it’s in the nature of tabloids to get as much drama as possible right?! I don’t think they would make much money otherwise.

  35. avatar
    Gabor

    We need the Windsors! We need something for laugh and to have a level to know where is the bottom of everything. Every cent is worth for it.

  36. avatar
    Edgaras

    There is only one monarch worthy of respect and that is Burger King

    • avatar
      Andrea

      I will quote you !

    • avatar
      Tom

      you deserve a crown for that, bro

    • avatar
      Edgaras

      @Tom I see what you did there :D

  37. avatar
    Irene

    Knowing about the amount of money given to the members of the Royal family (who have no governing responsibilities as they used to have in the past) by the taxpayers and knowing about so many situations of poverty and lack of money for basic needs, I don’t understand the need of Royals with so many privileges in the 21st century.

  38. avatar
    Paul

    People who think that having a predential/republic style head of state would save money are in for a rude awakening.
    Macron costs the french state 3 times more (110million euros) than the civil list paid to the queen….incredibly the Italian presidency costs even more for a largely ceremonial role.
    The rather more parsimonious germans spend about the same as uk (35 m)…..and as for the USA…dont even go there. ….

  39. avatar
    Ilias

    They are unfit for the 21st century.

  40. avatar
    Dennis

    No, they don’t. Monarchs consider themselves “Chosens by God”. In a democracy leader are chosen by the people, they are servants to their voters, no “chosen” or “superior” beings.

  41. avatar
    Tom

    Paying taxes to keep the Royals is like paying for an opera ticket you really have no interest in attending. There’s more important issues in the world to focus upon than pampered princes and prima Donna princesses that think the world spins around their stupidities. First world problems

    • avatar
      Nuno

      Well put.

  42. avatar
    Tobias

    What a stupid question! Of course not.

  43. avatar
    Gonçalo

    In a democracy, where every citizen has the same rights, rich or poor, north or south, black or white, having a person that gets privileges because they come out of the right vagina is an aberration! Strip out all of the fancy rhetoric and all the pomp and pageantry, that’s what it boils down to: kings are just people that have more rights than you because they come out of the right vagina, and that should never be tolerated in a democracy.

  44. avatar
    Христо

    Yes, if they are constitutional and liberal.

  45. avatar
    Γεώργιος

    Τhey are secure guards of elite privileges

  46. avatar
    Yannick

    The whole idea of entitlement via bloodline is archaic and fundamentally unfair, but they also represent a kind of historical tradition which conservatives like and it keeps the tabloid readers busy. I would prefer to do without, but it’s not the most urgent problem we have on this planet is it?

  47. avatar
    Filipe

    I personally don’t like monarchies. But if the people of those countries are happy with it, that’s fine.

  48. avatar
    Pedro

    It’s all about the principles: the idea of a God given right to power and wealth is anacronic since the French Revolution. Long live the Republic and it’s progressive drive.

  49. avatar
    Benny

    Monarchy is the epitome of privilege and the root cause of racism because it exists on the principle that some people are born superior to others. Monarchy is anachronistic and abhorrent.

  50. avatar
    Imre

    You can decide if you live in one of those countries.

  51. avatar
    Olivier

    Republic is not perfect too.. And has no soul… I regret the monarchy time in France

  52. avatar
    Norm

    Isn’t that a decision for the people in each country

  53. avatar
    Michael

    They’re an embarrassment and sometimes lead to total constitutional incoherence. Take my country Spain as an example. The Spanish constitution literally proclaims that all Spaniards are equal before the law in one article, and in another stipulates that the position of head of state is hereditary, passing from the present holder to his first born son or, in the absence of a son, first born daughter, in perpetuity, and that the head of state has a series of special privileges and immunities before the law. This leads to the surreal spectacle of the King getting on national television and proclaiming from on high that all of us are equal before the law.
    As a result of this absurd incoherence, people in Spain do not take rule of law seriously, do not take their constitution seriously, and do not take their institutions seriously. After all, if the constitution can literally contradict itself in the same breath and yet we still carry on, rule of law must not be that important to society.
    So the primary purpose of the Spanish monarchy, at least, seems to be to debilitate public confidence in their institutions.

  54. avatar
    Olivier

    There are the symbol of unity a cross the time and the political changes

    • avatar
      Michael

      Symbols are no substitute for good governance, solid institutions, and an educated electorate.

  55. avatar
    Chris

    Get your hands off our queen.. Just need to keep trashy woke types like meghan out or it will be wrecked

    • avatar
      Michael

      Are you guys still here?

  56. avatar
    Take

    The French Revolution is messed up.

  57. avatar
    Alice

    Banish monarchs and their families from the European Union.

    • avatar
      Chris

      or ban the eu for the greater good

  58. avatar
    Rene

    Yes, of course.. You also can ask, do Presidents have a purpose?? Every head of state has an purpose.

    • avatar
      Andy

      i am very intrested in the purpose of Donald Trump. Or is Being a clown also a purpose?

    • avatar
      Rene

      his purpose is fucking up the U. S., so yes.

  59. avatar
    Rutger

    No. They are just costing us money!

    • avatar
      Javié

      is very medieval, isn’t it? But of course, our king has a master in corruption

  60. avatar
    Cris

    Amazing that there’s even a debate…

  61. avatar
    Stefano

    The real question is ‘do the states have still a purpose’? and the answer is no! In Europe we need a common light ‘European state’ for Justice, Defence and Foreign Affairs and local communities (say Regions) connected in various ways and for various purposes.

    • avatar
      Yannick

      Yes to that: a Europe of regions is a great idea

    • avatar
      Franco

      I wonder if ” the EU have still a purpose ?

    • avatar
      Alessandro

      I didn’t know you were such a globalist!

    • avatar
      Władysław

      So you want a USSR? No thank you

    • avatar
      René

      No. We want USA.

    • avatar
      Władysław

      Europe will never be like USA. We are a product of history and cultures, USA is a product of philosophy. We are all different peoples and speak different languages, blending us under some 1 state will never work. Plus, EU doesn’t even have freedom of speech like USA does and is therefore totalitarian. We don’t want a multicultural sh*thole version of USSR, lol

  62. avatar
    Anne

    Waste of space. A complete anachronism. I, for one, would not curtsy if I were introduced to a “royal”.

    • avatar
      Meg

      me too why bow and curtsy to another human being

  63. avatar
    Stuart

    The French Monarchy had a Dolphin!

    • avatar
      Rafael

      at least they care about wildlife. That´s cool

    • avatar
      Stuart

      Dauphin? Porpoise? Purpose?..

    • avatar
      Gerhard

      Animal abuse isn’t “caring”.

    • avatar
      Rafael

      Well, if you ask me it was somehow quite equitative. The dolphin normally ended up crowned!

  64. avatar
    Richard

    Well, I suppose that’s slightly better than having a randy Andy.

  65. avatar
    Tobias

    Constitutional Monarchy > Republicanism
    You can’t change my mind.

    • avatar
      Anne

      What happens if a royal inheritor turns out to be Trump lookalike

    • avatar
      Tobias

      We’ll have a Trump lookalike cutting some ribbons every now and then, instead of being the Commander in Chief of the entire army.

  66. avatar
    Simon

    even if they don´t have an as clear purpose anymore, they are still an important cultural aspect of our nations. if anything, i think it is good to let them remain as designated caretakers of the historical buildings, archives, gear, etc, that they have amassed through the centuries.
    let them remain as tax-based antiquarians

  67. avatar
    Ada

    I like monarchy role now- they have to smile, they have to well look in pretty clothes, sometimes show solidarity with common citizens. And that’s all.
    Good roles for people don’t like to show how smart are they. Good deal, for me.

    • avatar
      Anne

      that’s a lot of money for very little return!

    • avatar
      Ada

      citizens need that.
      I’m common citizen, i like to see what happen with Kate Middleton for example.
      That separate me from gray, sad citizen reality.

  68. avatar
    Alessandro

    Yes….if the UK constitutional charters stay the same…

  69. avatar
    Mathias

    2020! It’s time for a republic

  70. avatar
    Heinrich

    Do president have a role? about 49% of the porpulation dislike the president after and election. In almost every democratic country that is the case. Thing about it, the leader of the state has almost half the porpulation aginst them, at any given time. Yet they shall stand as a leader for the entire porpulation in a crisis. They shal create a national unity. That is almost impossible if 49% of the porpulation dislike you. Eksemple that is the case in Denmark, were it is the attuide towards the prime minister. But the Queen has approval rating of 80% of the porpulation. In a monarchy you have the goverment to either be with or against. And you still have a Leader that are able to create national unity. Without being a dictatorship.

  71. avatar
    Janet

    Yes absolutely. As one who benefited greatly from their worldwide popularity and ability to create employment I think they’re worth my £1.24 per year. I’d even pay quite a lot more.

    • avatar
      Nadia

      Ok, maybe make it optional then.

  72. avatar
    Stuart

    Seriously, how can anyone in UK say they would prefer an elected head of state instead of the queen. Look at the type of people we elect.

    • avatar
      Nadia

      Lots of countries have Presidents. If they manage, what’s Britain’s problem? Mind you, there are other countries in Europe that also have monarchs…For now anyway!

  73. avatar
    Joel

    Leave it to the member states, and minimise their political power. If a member state wishes to maintain a symbolic hereditary head of state, the European bubble messing with it will only fuel unneeded populism.

  74. avatar
    Kevin

    Smash the monarchy. Ni Dieu, ni maître.

  75. avatar
    Wilfried

    Hereditary positions in a democracy?

  76. avatar
    Erwin

    Monarchs – symbolic as they may be nowadays – still claim exclusive and unconditional sovereignty over “their” land, anointed by God himself.

    This is incompatible with a secular, federal Europe. Such a system – whatever it may look like – would challenge that claim, because it needs to exercise power over all member States equally. Any federalist must therefore unambiguously oppose monarchy.

  77. avatar
    Arno

    In The Netherlands the taxpayers do not fund the monarch anymore.
    Maybe UK could follow?

    • avatar
      Arnout

      that’s not rly true. You could say it made them richer as they now live in palaces payed and maintained by us. Previously they had to pay it themselves.

      And sofar I know they still get money..

    • avatar
      Arno

      ik dacht dat hun uitkering stopgezet was? My bad…

  78. avatar
    Farah

    They are simply pointless and expensive

  79. avatar
    Arnold

    They stop some power hungry climber becoming head of state. Expensive bu t fairly harmelss

  80. avatar
    Edward

    They are propaganda for perpetuating inherited privilege. They should be abolished. Stewart no, France has more visitors than the UK (and all the tourist attractions would survive abolition, even the changing of the guard though why anyone wants to stand in the middle of a roundabout waiting to see some soldiers do drill in the distance beats me), people go to Spain for the weather not for its King, to Norway for the fjords, to Belgium for the beer and to the Netherlands for the canals and the tulips.

  81. avatar
    Baudouin

    In Belgium, the monarchy is very cheap.
    It represents the cement and a garantee of unity of a very divided nation, so without monarchy, most of the citizen have the feeling that this could be the end of the country.
    I think that monarchies or republics are not a European affair.
    We could have a sincere federalism without interfering in the local institutions.

  82. avatar
    David

    The Danish monarchy is loved by the people of Denmark !

  83. avatar
    Kristina

    For me a significant moment of devaluing and undermining the monarchy in the UK was when the Prime Minister decided to lie to the Queen in September 2019. Subsequently, he did apologise, however, She did not respond appropriately – any other PM would have been sacked. So, yes, for me monarchies (at least in the UK) have lost their ‘moral compass’ and hence have no purpose. Not even mentioning discredited Prince Andrew. Hope that makes sense.

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