Royal Wedding and the Case for Monarchy

With the United Kingdom enjoying some fun royal wedding planning and the forthcoming crowning of a new princess, I think it’s a good opportunity to re-up my case for constitutional monarchy.

The point here is that it seems inevitable in any country for some individual to end up serving the functional role of the king. Humans are hierarchical primates by nature and have a kind of fascination with power and dignity. This is somewhat inevitable, but it also cuts against the grain of a democracy. And under constitutional monarchy, you can mitigate the harm posed by displacing the mystique of power onto the powerless monarch. We follow the royal family with fascination, they participate in weird ceremonies, they have dignity, they symbolize the nation, we all talk about them respectfully, etc. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister gets to be just another politician. Admittedly the one who’s most important at this given moment in time. But that’s no reason not to jeer at him during Question Time. He’s not the symbol of the nation who’s owed deference. He’s a servant of the people and people who feel he’s serving them poorly should say so.

Obviously, we can put this in the “not going to happen” file. But the people of Japan, Australia, Canada, the UK, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Spain, and the Netherlands should all, I think, consider themselves lucky to have ended up with this odd yet highly functional system of government.