Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Monarchies, More Useful Than You Think

By SERGE SCHMEMANN, NYT
JUNE 3, 2014

The decision by the 76-year-old King Juan Carlos of Spain to abdicate in favor of his 46-year-old son, Crown Prince Felipe, inevitably revives the question of why so many monarchs still reign across Europe.

It seems incredible that 12 monarchies still survive there, though this includes curiosities such as Andorra, whose co-ruler is the president of France (the other is the bishop of Urgell); the Vatican, ruled by the pope, and the postage-stamp principalities of Monaco and Liechtenstein.

The others — Belgium, Britain, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Sweden — are among the most liberal democracies of Europe, yet they all maintain costly hereditary rulers on the national tab and generally treat them, well, like royalty.

True, most of the queens, kings, princes and princesses do work for their living. At 88, an age when most commoners are long retired from work and often from life, Queen Elizabeth II of Britain still maintains an arduous schedule of state ceremonies. And it’s hard to imagine what Europe’s glossy magazines would do without the endless photo features about royals donning full plumage for some grand event or producing a royal heir or leaving their castles to go biking or skiing with their subjects — or getting embroiled in some juicy scandal.

(More here.)

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