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Honest Thoughts on Constitutional Monarchy -- Why Crowns Grow Irrelevant

Updated: May 17

Synopsis and Feedback by Ms. Gabbi Grace

The article "Honest Thoughts on Constitutional Monarchy" explores the logical reasoning behind the Constitutional Monarchy as a form of government, and criticize it.
Constitutional monarchies offer several advantages, such as providing national unity, stability, and continuity. Monarchs often serve as unifying figures that embody national identity and tradition, which can help foster a sense of common purpose and cohesion within a politically diverse society.
Additionally, constitutional monarchies tend to offer a balanced system of governance with checks and balances that can prevent any one branch from becoming too powerful​.
On the downside, constitutional monarchies can be criticized for being costly, as maintaining the royal family and its functions often involves significant public expenditure.
Furthermore, the process of decision-making in constitutional monarchies can be slow and cumbersome due to the need for approval from multiple layers of government, including the monarch and the elected bodies. This can hinder quick responses in times of emergency.
Additionally, there is the issue of quality in leadership, as monarchs are not elected based on merit but rather inherit their positions, which can sometimes lead to ineffective or inexperienced heads of state​​​​.
The article concludes that while Democratic Republics can be more just, and relying on merit and not ancestry.

Dethroning Absolute Rule: Understanding Constitutional Monarchies

A constitutional monarchy is a form of government where the monarch, whether a king, queen, sultan, or emperor, holds a symbolic or limited leadership role. Unlike absolute monarchs of the past, their power is restricted by a constitution, a document outlining the laws of the state. This effectively denies their ability to rule with complete authority.

Interestingly, another term for this system is "democratic monarchy." However, it's important to understand that the people don't directly elect the monarch. That is known as elective monarchy. However, an elected monarch can still be a symbolic figurehead, as expressed in the Cambodian monarchy, where the figurehead is elected for life by the royal council.

Beyond such elections, the monarch's title is usually hereditary, passing down through a royal family. The democratic aspect comes from the system itself, where the power of the citizens outweighs that of the monarch, as they elect the government that rules alongside the monarch, or actually rule, while the monarch remains nothing more than a prestigious status symbol wearer.

While the monarch may retain some influence, it pales in comparison to the authority held by the public, often referred to as "subjects" in historical contexts.

The concept of a constitutional monarch isn't limited to kings and queens. Countries like Japan have an emperor position to this day, who fulfils a similar symbolic role. The current Emperor of Japan, for instance, wields minimal to no political power under Article 4 of the nation's constitution.

A Meritocrat's View on Modern Monarchies

In today's world, the concept of a constitutional monarchy, where a king or queen reigns with limited power, seems like an unnecessary layer in a functioning democracy. A true republic, where the power rests with the people, embodies the spirit of democracy more authentically.

My personal view on monarchies isn't about the individuals themselves. I hold no hostility towards members of royal families. However, the very idea of inherited privilege opposes the legitimacy of meritocracies, which promotes the equality of opportunity.

Their lives are often treated like celebrity gossip, their voices amplified solely due to their ancestry. While Prince Harry's book release gained international attention, I believe his own experiences and message, rather than his royal title, deserved the spotlight. After all, he stepped down from his royal status. The fact that it reached Israeli news exemplifies the unfair advantage bestowed upon nobility.

As such, historically, being a royal member gives you greater access to education, and are less likely to live in poverty (with exceptions such as King Ludwig II of Bavaria who assumingly paid for his debts with his life). This makes a bit more sense when actually have power, and not when your power is a mere status symbol, and a burden on taxpayer's hard-earned work.

The death of Queen Elizabeth brought a wave of mixed emotions. While sadness dominated my feelings before I died inside, I was surprised to witness some celebratory reactions. However, my dislike is directed at the unfair institution, not at the individuals. I believe these people are worthy of respect simply as human beings, not because of their titles. I wouldn't seek to dishonor someone just because of their titles, or lack thereof, while they still retain their right of respect, which I can enforce in my behavior towards them.

If I found myself in the peculiar position of a symbolic nobleman, I wouldn't settle for a purely ceremonial role. The drive to achieve merit and build a legacy on my own terms would be far more important to me than luxury gained through mere historic symbolism.

I wouldn't want to be defined solely by a noble bloodline. In that scenario, I would choose to be recognized for who I am, Tomasio, rather than just another member of the nobility. That includes the actual, underrated dynasty I am part of, the Zackheim rabbi dynasty of Belarus, comprised of many rabbis and philosophers forgotten by history.

The Price of a Crown

The enduring presence of constitutional monarchies raises a question: are these elaborate institutions a valuable relic of the past, or an outdated burden on taxpayers? While tradition, culture, and national heritage hold weight, a closer look reveals some practical and financial concerns.

Maintaining a royal family can significantly drain public resources. Tax money that could be used for essential services goes towards funding their opulent lifestyles. Perhaps the financial benefit of abolishing these monarchies outweighs the sentimental value they hold.

Returning to the British Royal Family, in 2023, the monarchy got paid "£86.3 million, made up of £51.8 million for the core funding and an extra £34.5 million for maintaining Buckingham Palace" according to the Standard news outlet. This is quite a hefty sum of money to pay for a symbolic institution and its assets.

The core principle of a democracy is the power residing with the people, exercised through elected representatives. In a constitutional monarchy, a hereditary ruler holds a position of power – a technical contradiction, whether symbolic or otherwise. As such, not all constitutional monarchies are symbolic, with Liechtenstein's non-elected Prince having a considerable power of his own, along with the people.

Can a leader who wasn't elected by the people truly be considered democratic? The nobility, seem to be aware of their diminished influence in a world dominated by republics and democracies. Those with no actual power, form of elaborate live-action roleplaying (LARP) with little practical relevance.

While some democratic republics, like Germany, have titles of nobility, these individuals don't wield political power. Their lineage has no bearing on the functioning of the state.

So, what is even the point in such hollow, privilaged display of vanity?

My Hope

The ideal form of government, in my view, is a democratic republic. These nations hold legitimate elections, ensuring that leadership is based on merit and the will of the people, not on ancestry. When you have, for example, kings like Charles II of Spain, who suffered from physical and mental disabilities, maybe it's not a good idea to have a heredity rule for an entire nation.

While this vision may not be fully embraced, a world where absolute monarchies are completely relics of the past, and democracies reign supreme, should at least be considered.

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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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