Saturday, November 20, 2004

I'm a regular reader of the road to surfdom, which is a blog by an Australian fellow with a largely Australian readership (as far as I can tell). A frequent topic there (often lurking in the wings while other topics are on stage) is Australia's relationship to the UK royal family.

Recent comments by the dauphin regarding meritocracy, and the subsequent discussion on trts, have spurred me to mull the following question:

What useful purpose does a hereditary monarchy serve today?

Hardly a new question, I realize, but not one I often consider.

I know what monarchies have done in the past, I know what democracies do/can do, I know what symbolic heads of state (like the German president) do/can do, and I know what republics do/can do. I also know what dictatorships (party or individual) do/can do. What I don't quite get is what purpose a hereditary monarch serves that none of these other systems can't do a better job of, particularly when, as is the case in most countries outside of Nepal and Bhutan, the monarch is all but powerless.

I would like someone to tell me the answer to this question, particularly if they are themselves monarchists and especially particularly if they don't stand to gain personally from a monarchy (if you are the Fourth Earl of Dicksquiddle then obviously a monarch can be good for you, but what of the plebes/proles/commoners?).

I know, thanks to Sitemeter, that people unknown to me look at this from time to time, so I do hope they consider this a calling out.


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