Monarchy: Who’s Next to Fall?

Monarchism in republics has a converse, republicanism in monarchy. How strong are republican movements in monarchies and how likely are they to succeed?

The more autocratic monarchies, like in Saudi Arabia, are not likely to have much tolerance for republican movements. However, the experience of the last few centuries suggests that political upheavals are likely to end such monarchies, with their successors creating republics that stay republics. Such monarchies may survive by letting republican organizations like parliaments take over much of the work of governing, and their nations may end up crowned republics.

Of the Arab monarchies, Morocco, Jordan, Kuwait, and Oman seem headed toward republicanism, with the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia taking baby steps in that direction. Though these nations have avoided most of the “Arab Spring” strife, Bahrain and Syria are close to civil war, and it may depose their monarchies. Elsewhere, the Communist monarchies of North Korea and Cuba seem stable.

Turning to the crowned-republic monarchies, we find republican movements in many of them. The Alliance of European Republican Movements has members in most of Europe’s crowned republics: the UK, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Spain. There are also pro-republican organizations in the UK’s major dominions: Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Most of these organizations are on the fringes of their nations’ politics, without much support from big political parties or big-name politicians, as far as I (lpetrich) can tell.

However, republicanism has gotten a surprising amount of support in the UK and its major dominions. Several politicians have supported republicanism in those nations, and Australia has gone as far as having a referendum on becoming a republic. It failed, however. The Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard, has gone on record as stating that she wants Australia to become a republic, but that she wants to wait until Queen Elizabeth II dies, because many people seem to like her. So Elizabeth Windsor’s likability may be keeping the British monarchy going. Her likely successor, Prince Charles, has not been so likable, and if he becomes king, his personality may induce some nations to reject the British monarchy. So might the House of Windsor some day go the way of the Houses of Bourbon, Hohenzollern, Habsburg, Romanov, and Savoy?

So Bahrain, Syria, and the UK and its dominions all risk losing their monarchies over the next few years to the next decade or so.

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Monarchy: Who Wants Them Back?

Though several monarchies have been deposed over the last few centuries, several ex-monarchs’ families keep the memory alive. Some of the family members even claim to be successors of those ex-monarchs, ready to become those nations’ monarchs again.

Royal families like

  • The Bourbons of France
  • The Hohenzollerns of Germany and Romania
  • The Habsburgs of Austria and Hungary
  • The Romanovs of Russia
  • The House of Savoy of Italy

But how much support have their received from their would-be subjects? Not very much, as far as I (lpetrich) can tell. Monarchist movements have usually been unable to get beyond the fringes, monarchist political parties typically get very little of the vote, and the bigger parties and bigger-name politicians have little interest, if any, in monarchy restoration.

Among the monarchist parties has been the Camelots du Roi (“Street Peddlers of the King”), a French party that existed 1908-1936. Another colorfully-named one is the Black and Yellow Alliance, which wants to restore the Austro-Hungarian Empire and its Habsburg monarchy.

The best prospect for a monarchy restoration is now in Libya, where the National Transitional Council and its associated militias have recently overthrown Muammar Khadafy’s regime. He in turn had come to power 42 years ago by overthrowing King Idris, Libya’s first and only monarch. Many post-Khadafy Libyans have embraced the Idris-era Libyan flag as a symbol, and some have expressed nostalgia for the Idris era. However, not nearly as many seem to want the restoration of his monarchy. Idris’s grandnephew Mohammed Senussi has offered his services as potential monarch, but not many Libyans seem interested, including the NTC.

He might, however, have the sort of political career that Tsar Simeon II had enjoyed in Bulgaria. Born in 1937, he was deposed in 1946 when the Communists took over Bulgaria. His family went into exile, and he became a successful businessman. But in 1989, the Soviet-bloc Communist regimes fell, including Bulgaria’s. He returned in 1996 as Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, and he founded a political party, the NDSV, in 2001. It won big, and Simeon became prime minister. More recently, however, the NDSV has not done so well.

Despite his success, not many Bulgarians seem to want the monarchy restored, and Simeon himself has been rather cagey about restoration. But he seems content to participate in politics in democratic republican fashion.