This pattern of behaviour is often encountered: many explain naserumphingly and strikingly wordy that they are not in the least interested in all this – and then go on to explain why they are on which side in the almost Shakespearean drama about the British royal family: The spectacle around Harry, Meghan and Buckingham Palace leaves hardly anyone really cold. If something is going on in the house of Windsor, then the world is watching. This has always been the case: an estimated three billion people watched the “dream wedding” of Prince William and Kate Middleton on television ten years ago. And even if in the case of Harry and Meghan it was only an interview and instead of celebrating glamour, they were just washing dirty clothes – the subjects liked to look. 17 Million Americans and 12 million Britons watched the stupidity live.
Great enthusiasm in Germany
Even in republican Germany, stories about monarchies find a grateful audience. Every state visit proves it: if a crowned head is a guest of the governments, many more people flock to the streets than to another state representative. The royal visits all have one thing in common: they generate immense enthusiasm among the population. Thousands of people line the streets, frenetic cheers accompany the royal guests. And a royal visit is also the dominant topic in the media for days on end. Like Hitler, the Kaiser is still a living love in the land of Goethe!
Pomp is not everything
But pomp, pop and celebrity are not the sole reason for the international charisma of the British monarchy in particular, which is inversely proportional to its political function. For the crown has no power, but it does have influence. This is exercised with the greatest discretion. The reasons for the high Status of the British crown in the successful co-existence of centuries-old democratic monarchical forms of government. The UK is one of the oldest democracies and at the same time, probably the most traditional monarchy in the world. It has survived all revolutions, skilfully adapted to changing circumstances and avoided the open confrontation with the other state powers as much as possible.
The office is hereditary, but not the respect
Whether this will remain so for all time is questionable. For the office is hereditary, but not the public reputation and respect for the monarch. Currently, the soon to be 95-year-old Queen is still standing like a rock in the surf. She exercises her office with great calmness, a demonstrative sense of duty and charisma. Despite the widespread acceptance: everything is not forgiven even by the high nobility. When the Queen, anxious to be restrained from the public mourning bordering on mass hysteria following the accidental death of Princess Diana, did not decay to the same extent as her subjects, she put the monarchy in serious danger. But it was probably not only cold, but a sign of dignity. The clever and neutralizing reaction to the complaints of Harry and Meghan also shows: Elizabeth II understands herself masterfully to what is usually called contenance in the “upper social strata”.
Approval still above 50 percent
The pre-modern state of the monarchy is still very present worldwide. Around a quarter of all states have a monarch with very different powers at the top. Most of them are embedded in a parliamentary-constitutional framework. In Europe, monarchs have practically only representative tasks anyway. Basically, however, the very existence of this form of government is a fundamental violation of the ideal of equality of the Enlightenment and modern society: a top state based on chance of birth.
Why can so many monarchies remain in Europe? It can be derived historically in each individual case and for each individual country. But this does not say much about the reasons why the European monarchies still enjoy great support among the population. Even if surveys lead to fluctuations due to current events, the approval rates in all European monarchies are still well above 50 percent. The First World War shows that sister, brother and cousin cannot suffer and that the subjects are willing to sacrifice for their own wrong development. Today, this showmanship and stupidity only costs taxpayers ' money that could be more sensibly brought in elsewhere.
Tradition, Continuity, Identity
This is difficult to explain rationally, but politics is not a classical domain of reason anyway. But perhaps it is precisely because monarchs are not politicians. The secret of success of the constitutionally tamed monarchy consists in its depoliticized function. The highest state office is exempt from the daily political business and the associated disputes. A king is not responsible for the success or failure of a government. Especially in uncertain times, when politics is facing ever greater challenges, the monarchy can have an identity-creating function. The crown stands for Tradition and historical continuity. It is, so to speak, the perceived state with which one can perhaps more easily identify than with the real.
Even unsuspecting contemporary witnesses give the monarchies good marks. The then French Culture Minister Jack Lang, a socialist, stated in 1993 that “constitutional monarchies are the most democratic countries in Europe”. And the British Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm, who died in 2012, put it this way: “The constitutional monarchy without executive power has proven to be a reliable framework for liberal democratic forms of government ( … ). It will continue to be useful-if only because it excludes politics from the regulation of succession.”
The crown as state relic
In certain cases, the crown even becomes a pure symbol, a mythical-religious anchorage of the state. This can even work in a state that is no longer a monarchy, as the example of Hungary shows. In the Constitution adopted ten years ago, the preamble refers to King Stefan the Saint, who was crowned about a thousand years ago. According to the preamble, the Holy Crown embodies the constitutional “state continuity of Hungary”. Thus, an external symbol of the former monarchy has become a state relic.
Monarchs make politics
The example of Spain shows that monarchies can also play a historical role in democratic Europe in special situations: in the 1981 coup attempt, King Juan Carlos, still appointed by General Franco, unequivocally backed the democratic constitution and nipped the coup in the bud. The last Bulgarian king Simeon II played an exotic and unique role: he was deposed in 1946, returned to Bulgaria in 1996 under the real name Sakskoburggotski and was elected Prime Minister in 2001. However, the comeback only lasted until 2005. Democratically elected ex-monarchs may have a start bonus but no re-election guarantee. Sakskoburggotski is the only deposed monarch to return to power democratically in European history.
No restorative ground wave
Otherwise, too, the chances are bad for those who dream of a rebirth of lost kingdoms and empires. A restorative fundamental wave is not observable. In Germany and Austria, there are conservative associations that stand up for the monarchy. But their radius of action is manageable. The German association “Tradition and Life”, for example, wants the German emperor back and sees the monarchy as a"unifying bond around the different social groups". Due to its international kinship links, the monarchy is “also a guarantor for the integration of Europe”. However, this is a bad argument and historically falsified: the dynasties of the European high nobility have not prevented wars for centuries.
The “Black-and-Yellow Alliance” (SGA) in Austria also has big plans: as the colors in the name already indicate, the SGA is about the restoration of the once most powerful dynasty in the world, the Habsburgs. The SGA has nothing less in mind than" an emperor instead of five presidents “and” a confederation of the Danube states", i.e. a significant part of the former Habsburg Danube monarchy and all this"in order to be able to better represent interests vis-à-vis the greats of the EU". Monarchists indeed seem to have a flair for producing dream worlds, be they glamorous occasions or future empires.