Except for Canadians as well as a sprinkle of fringe lunatics still hoping to reinstall the defunct throne in Brazil, it is safe to say that most Western Hemispherians are staunchly republican. We did after all, fight bloody wars all across the American continent back in the 18th and 19th centuries to rid ourselves of the yoke of European kings. For us, monarchies are an anachronism: at best a silly spectacle of that uniquely European fetish for pompousness and tradition; at worst, another form of authoritarian brutality as is more often seen in the monarchies of the Middle East. I, of course, share that view, although after living six years in the United Kingdom one would think I have a new found appreciation of at least some virtues of the constitutional monarchical system. After all, what better symbol of the nation than the House which has ruled over this sceptered isle for centuries and that is beloved by over two-thirds of the population? Is this not a harmless and superior alternative to bringing the nation together than the nationalist jingoism of right-wing regimes, or the fiscally destructive populism of the radical left?
My answer is a categorical NO. Monarchy, through its perpetration through hereditary privilege, is by its very definition incompatible with the ideas of liberal democracy. While I’m not surprised that it generally shares the consent of the conservative elites, that it can also count on the support of many supposedly enlightened “liberals” is truly beyond me. After all, the monarchy apparently enjoys the support of 69% of Britons and 53% of Spaniards (notwithstanding the king’s elephant-hunting trips to Africa while the country is mired in recession and unemployment), and surely a similar amount of Dutch, Danish, etc. That’s a much larger number than the main right-wing party in these countries would typically get in your average election, proving there’s a lot of lefties who love their king or queen. Continue reading