Monarchism is the advocacy of monarchy or monarchical rule. A monarchist is an individual who supports this form of government, independent of any specific monarch; one who espouses a particular monarch is a royalist. Conversely, the opposition to monarchical rule is sometimes referred to as republicanism.
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Depending on the country, a monarchist may advocate for the rule of the person who sits on the throne, a pretender, or someone who would otherwise occupy the throne but has been deposed.
Monarchical rule is among the oldest political institutions. Monarchy has often claimed legitimacy from a higher power (in early modern Europe the divine right of kings, and in China the Mandate of Heaven).
In England, royalty ceded power elsewhere in a gradual process. In 1215, a group of nobles forced King John to sign the Magna Carta, which guaranteed its barons certain liberties and established that the king's powers were not absolute. In 1687-88, the Glorious Revolution and the overthrow of King James II established the principles of constitutional monarchy, which would later be worked out by Locke and other thinkers. However, absolute monarchy, justified by Hobbes in Leviathan (1651), remained a prominent principle elsewhere. In the 18th century, Voltaire and others encouraged "enlightened absolutism", which was embraced by the Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II and by Catherine II of Russia.
In the late 18th century, the American Revolution and the French Revolution were both additional steps in the weakening of power of European monarchies. Each in its different way exemplified the concept of popular sovereignty upheld by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. 1848 then ushered in a wave of revolutions against the continental European monarchies.
World War I and its aftermath saw the end of three major European monarchies: the Russian Romanov dynasty, the German Hohenzollern dynasty, including all other German monarchies and the Austro-Hungarian Habsburg dynasty.
The rise of the Hungarian Soviet Republic in 1919 provoked an increase in support for monarchism; however, efforts by Hungarian monarchists failed to bring back a royal head of state, and the monarchists settled for a regent, Admiral Miklós Horthy, to represent the monarchy until it could be restored. Horthy was regent from 1920 to 1944. In similar wise the 1938 autocratic state of Franco in Spain claimed to have reconstituted the Spanish monarchy in absentia (and in this case ultimately yielded to a restoration, in the person of King Juan Carlos). In 1920s Germany a number of monarchists gathered around the German National People's Party which demanded the return of the Hohenzollern monarchy and an end to the Weimar Republic; the party retained a large base of support until the rise of Nazism in the 1930s.
With the arrival of socialism in Eastern Europe by the end of 1947, the remaining Eastern European monarchies, namely the Kingdom of Romania, the Kingdom of Hungary, the Kingdom of Albania, the Kingdom of Bulgaria and the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, were all abolished and replaced by socialist republics.
The aftermath of World War II also saw the return of monarchist and republican rivalry in Italy, where a referendum was held on whether the state should remain a monarchy or become a republic. The republican side won the vote by a narrow margin, and the modern Republic of Italy was created.
Monarchism as a political force internationally has substantially diminished since the end of the Second World War, though it had an important role in the 1979 Iranian Revolution and also played a role in the modern political affairs of Nepal. Nepal was one of the last states to have had an absolute monarch, which continued until King Gyanendra was peacefully deposed in May 2008 and the country became a federal republic. One of the world's oldest monarchies was abolished in Ethiopia in 1974 with the fall of Emperor Haile Selassie.
The majority of current monarchies are constitutional monarchies. In most of these, the monarch wields only symbolic power, although in some, the monarch does play a role in political affairs. In Thailand, for instance, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who reigned from 1946 to 2016, played a critical role in the nation's political agenda and in various military coups. Similarly, in Morocco, King Mohammed VI wields significant, but not absolute power.
There remain a handful of countries in which the monarch is the true ruler. The majority of these countries are oil-producing Arab Islamic monarchies like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates. Other strong monarchies include Brunei and Eswatini.
Justifications for monarchism
Otto von Habsburg advocated a form of constitutional monarchy based on the primacy of the supreme judicial function, with hereditary succession, mediation by a tribunal is warranted if suitability is problematic.
Nonpartisan head of state
A monarchy has been justified on the grounds that it provides for a nonpartisan head of state, separate from the head of government, and thus ensures that the highest representative of the country, at home and internationally, does not represent a particular political party, but all people.
Safeguard for liberty
The International Monarchist League, founded in 1943, has always sought to promote monarchy on the grounds that it strengthens popular liberty, both in a democracy and in a dictatorship, because by definition the monarch is not beholden to politicians.
British-American libertarian writer Matthew Feeney, on the occasion of the birth of Prince George of Cambridge, the likely future king of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Commonwealth Realms, in 2013, wrote:
|“||In the last hundred years many European nations have experienced fascism, communism, and military dictatorships. However, countries with constitutional monarchies have managed for the most part to avoid extreme politics in part because monarchies provide a check on the wills of populist politicians. European monarchies--such as the Danish, Belgian, Swedish, Dutch, Norwegian, and British--have ruled over countries that are among the most stable, prosperous, and free in the world. Constitutional monarchs make it difficult for dramatic political changes to occur, oftentimes by representing traditions and customs that politicians cannot replace and few citizens would like to see overthrown.||”|
Connection to the past
Since the middle of the 19th century, some monarchists have stopped defending monarchy on the basis of abstract, universal principles applicable to all nations or even on the grounds that a monarchy would be the best or most practical government for the nation in question but prefer invoking local symbolic grounds that they would be a particular nation's link to the past.
Hence, post-19th century debates on whether to preserve a monarchy or to adopt a republican form of government have often been debates over national identity, with the monarch generally serving as a symbol for other issues.
For example, in countries like Belgium and the Netherlands anti-monarchist talk is often centered on the perceived symbolism of a monarch contrasting with those nation's political culture of egalitarianism. In Belgium, another factor are the anti-Belgian sentiments of the separatist Flemish movement. The latter see the monarchy as a predominantly francophone institution of which the historical roots lie in the French-speaking elite that ruled Belgium until circa 1950s.
In Canada and Australia, by contrast, debates over monarchy represent or represented debates whose driving force concerned each nation's relationship with the United Kingdom and the cultural heritage that this relationship represents.
Human desire for hierarchy
In a 1943 essay in The Spectator, "Equality", British author C.S. Lewis criticized egalitarianism, and its corresponding call for the abolition of monarchy, as contrary to human nature, writing, "Where men are forbidden to honour a king they honour millionaires, athletes, or film-stars instead: even famous prostitutes or gangsters. For spiritual nature, like bodily nature, will be served; deny it food and it will gobble poison."
Support for Monarchy in Modern Times
Countries showing support for the restoration of a previously abolished monarchy.
|Rank||Country||Supporters||% of country|
- Charles A. Coulombe (born 1960)
- José Bonifácio (1763–1838)
- Viscount of Rio Branco (1819–1880)
- João Lustosa da Cunha Paranaguá, Marquis of Paranaguá (1821–1912)
- José de Alencar (1829–1877)
- Carlos Gomes (1836–1896)
- Afonso Celso, Viscount of Ouro Preto (1836–1912)
- André Rebouças (1838–1898)
- Machado de Assis (1839–1908)
- Joaquim Nabuco (1839–1910)
- José do Patrocínio (1854–1905)
- Baron of Rio Branco (1845–1912)
- Alberto Santos-Dumont (1873–1932)
- José Osvaldo de Meira Penna (1917–2017)
- Ariano Suassuna (1927–2014)
- Prince Bertrand of Orléans-Braganza (born 1941)
- Olavo de Carvalho (born 1947)
- Luiz Philippe of Orléans-Braganza (born 1969)
- Carla Zambelli (born 1980)
- Paulo Eduardo Martins (born 1981)
- Hergé (1903–1983)
- Winston Churchill (1874–1965)
- Agatha Christie (1890–1976)
- J.R.R. Tolkien (1892–1973)
- C.S. Lewis (1898–1963)
- Harold Wilson (1916–1995)
- Peregrine Worsthorne (born 1923)
- Mary Warnock, Baroness Warnock (1924-2019)
- Betty Boothroyd (born 1929)
- Joan Collins (born 1933)
- Michael Heseltine (born 1933)
- Alan Bennett (born 1933)
- Judi Dench (born 1934)
- Julie Andrews (born 1935)
- Nikolai Tolstoy (1935)
- Frederick Forsyth (born 1938)
- Tom Jones (singer) (born 1940)
- Paul McCartney (born 1942)
- Vernon Bogdanor (born 1943)
- John Major (born 1943)
- Simon Blackburn (born 1944)
- Roger Scruton (born 1944)
- Edwina Currie (born 1946)
- William Shawcross (born 1946)
- Elton John (born 1947)
- Jeremy Irons (born 1948)
- Tony Blair (born 1953)
- Anthony Seldon (born 1953)
- Alex Salmond (born 1954)
- Ian Botham (born 1955)
- Theresa May (born 1956)
- Stephen Fry (born 1957)
- Rupert Everett (born 1959)
- Nick Ferrari (born 1959)
- Alison Moyet (born 1961)
- Camila Batmanghelidjh (born 1963)
- Tracey Emin (born 1963)
- Quentin Letts (born 1963)
- Peter Morgan (born 1963)
- Andrew Roberts (born 1963)
- Nigel Farage (born 1964)
- Boris Johnson (born 1964)
- Rachel Johnson (born 1965)
- David Cameron (born 1966)
- Ed Vaizey (born 1968)
- Jacob Rees-Mogg (born 1969)
- Geri Halliwell (born 1972)
- Miranda Hart (born 1972)
- Victoria Coren Mitchell (born 1972)
- Victoria Beckham (born 1974)
- Alex Massie (born 1974)
- David Mitchell (born 1974)
- Emma Bunton (born 1976)
- Adele (born 1988)
- George-Étienne Cartier (1814–1873)
- John A. Macdonald (1815–1891)
- Alexander Tilloch Galt(1817–1893)
- Thomas D'Arcy McGee (1825–1868)
- Henri-Gustave Joly de Lotbinière (1829–1908)
- Emily Carr (1871–1945)
- William Lyon Mackenzie King (1874–1950)
- David Milne (1882–1953)
- Louis St. Laurent (1882–1973)
- Vincent Massey (1887–1967)
- Georges Vanier (1888–1967)
- Conn Smythe (1895–1980)
- John Diefenbaker (1895–1979)
- Lester B. Pearson (1897–1972)
- Eugene Forsey (1904–1991)
- George Montegu Black II (1911–1976)
- Robertson Davies (1913–1995)
- George Grant (1918–1988)
- Pierre Trudeau (1919–2000)
- Nancy Bell (1924–1989)
- Robert Layton (1925–2002)
- Glenn Gould (1932–1982)
- Jean Chrétien (born 1934)
- Don Cherry (born 1934)
- Margaret Atwood (born 1939)
- Charles Pachter (born 1942)
- Michael Valpy (born 1942)
- John Fraser (born 1944)
- Jack Layton (1950–2011)
- John Aimers (born 1951)
- Kevin S. MacLeod (born 1951)
- Stephen Harper (born 1959)
- Andrew Coyne (born 1960)
- Colby Cosh (born 1971)
- Ray Novak (born 1977)
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[s]ome people think the NDP may want to get rid of the monarchy but I can assure you that's absolutely not the case. My Dad was a big time monarchist and so am I.
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Seeing me, she exclaimed, "You again!" I instantly replied, "I am the monarchist from Quebec."
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Paradox defines him... He's a monarchist who loves royalty, yet he delights in satirizing them.
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