Friday, May 22, 2009

Advantages of Constitutional Monarchy

Alastair Endersby has twice coached England teams in the World Schools Debating Championships. He currently teaches History and Politics at Bishop Wordsworth's School in Salisbury, England. He is the Editor of Debatabase.

Constitutional monarchy is a very effective political system. A hereditary Head of State acts as an important element of continuity within a democratic system. The real powers (as opposed to purely theoretical ones – no British ruler has actually vetoed an Act of Parliament since c1720) of European monarchs are negligible. But as unelected figures above the political conflicts of the day, they retain an important symbolic role as a focus for national unity (very important in Belgium, for example). In Britain their right “to advise, encourage and warn” the Prime Minister of the day has acted as a check against overly radical policies, in Spain King Juan Carlos actually faced down a military coup in the 1980s.


Monarchy acts as a guardian of a nation’s heritage, a living reminder of the events and personalities that have shaped it. As such it is a powerful focus for loyalty and a source of strength in times of crisis, for example World War II, and a reminder of enduring values and traditions. Separating the positions of Head of State and Head of Government also makes great practical sense; the monarchy undertakes much of the ceremonial work at home and abroad, leaving the Prime Minister free to focus more effectively upon governing.


Monarchy is highly cost-effective when compared to the expense of maintaining a Presidency with a large staff and equally stringent security requirements. Royal residences are held in trust for the nation, and would require the same upkeep costs whether they were inhabited by a monarch or not. Instead monarchy more than pays its way through its generation of tourist revenue as millions visit sites associated with royalty, and through its role in promoting trade and industry abroad on royal visits.


Monarchy is preferable to the alternative; an elected Presidency. It avoids the partisan nature of a Presidency, inevitably associated with one of the political parties, and thus incapable of uniting the nation as monarchy can. In all countries public trust of politicians is sinking to new lows, another reason why an elected Presidency fails to provide a focus for national feeling. Constitutional monarchy is also a more effective system of government, vesting real power clearly in the hands of democratically accountable leaders with a mandate to govern, without all the dangers of political gridlock that can result from conflict between two differently elected bodies (e.g. in the USA or France).


Monarchy can lead public opinion. Although above party politics, modern monarchs have proved able to raise important and sometimes unpopular issues that would otherwise have been ignored. For example, in the U.K. Prince Charles has legitimised discussion of environmental issues and stimulated a lively debate about the purpose of architecture, while Princess Diana’s work with Aids sufferers helped shift public opinion.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Can you please tell me some advantages of a
CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCHY?

Anonymous said...

hmmm, umm, well everybody gets to vote

Anonymous said...

and you have a King and/or Queen

Anonymous said...

Cool website-post some more!

Antonios Xanthopoulos said...

Very nice aproaching of the subject. I will take the liberty to post it to others.

Anonymous said...

I'll just dismantle one of your first arguments for a constitutional monarchy and leave the rest for other people to have a go at.

The notion that the British monarch's powers are theoretical is nonsense. The last time a monarch exercised their personal power in Britain was, not in 1720, but in 1963 when QEII selected Alec Douglas Home as Prime Minister (on advice from Conservative ministers) over the existing Deputy Prime Minister Rab Butler.

In Britain the constitutional powers of the monarch are extensive but are generally wielded, not personally by the monarch, but through the Royal Prerogative Powers by the government of the day. The upshot is that government is able to push much important legislation through parliament without scrutiny, debate or public accountability.

I could go on ...

Anonymous said...

please go on.

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Jack said...

this is very helpful with my Sose assignment and i thank you for this disscussion, i would also like to see the disadvantages, and views on Australian Republicism?

Anonymous said...

What are THE ADVANTAGES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!