Is the monarchy a valid system in the 21st century? For many people, the monarchical regime is an undemocratic system that has survived since the darkest times of the Middle Ages. For others, it represents a guarantee of national unity and tradition for their countries. However, during recent years, many monarchies, especially those in Europe, have been affected by financial and sexual scandals that have undermined their popularity.
Evidently, there are many kinds of monarchies around the world. On the one side, there are absolute monarchies, in which the king possesses the three branches of power – judiciary, legislative and executive – and acts like a dictator, like in Saudi Arabia. There are also countries where the king carries out executives functions while its parliament has a very weak legislative power, as so happens in Morocco. Finally, we can find parliamentary monarchies, in which sovereigns only have a symbolic function, although in many cases they have the responsibility to designate the executive’s chief. These cases can be found in Europe, for example in the United Kingdom, Spain, Netherlands or Belgium.
Although being the “most democratic” type of monarchy, in recent years, European monarchies have been highly questioned by many citizens. Despite their the attempts to fit into modern times, there is an issue that produces great controversy amongst the public opinion: monarchs’ annual salaries. According to the BBC, Queen Elizabeth II of the UK earned about $104 million last year, and the rest of European monarchs salaries approaches the $1 million mark. Putting aside the multiple properties which these monarchies have to maintain, is it ethic that they receive so much money from public funds while so many people in Europe and the rest of the world are fighting for their economic stability?
In addition, many sexual and corruption scandals have damaged monarchies’ public images. The most recent is the one that involved Spanish former king Juan Carlos I. In fact, he received much criticism due to several extramarital relationships, and for having gone an expensive trip to Africa to hunt elephants while his country was living one of the worst economic crisis in its history. Besides these love affairs, his son-in-law, Iñaki Urdangarín, is currently being judged for taking part in a corruption plot and evading millions of Euros from a charity.
So, which are the real functions of monarchies nowadays? To be honest, and this can be seen especially in Europe, monarchies don’t carry out any governmental function. However, they carry on earning large sums of money and they usually become the mediatical objective of entertainment and gossip magazines. It is also important to highlight that the reason why a lot of people think monarchies are old-fashioned systems is the fact that nobody has elected them, which makes the monarchy a completely undemocratic system.
By Tomàs Garcia-Espot