Public Television recently ran a series recently on the Queen of England. Now, as a monarchist, you'd think I would be interested in such a series. I am not. Elizabeth II may be a queen, but she is not a monarch, a “single ruler.” In fact, she has no substantial connection with political power in England whatsoever. From the snippets of the show that I caught, he role seems to be giving garden parties for those who have done good works, and such like things. A worthy endeavor to be sure. Or rather, it would be worth it if the queen were really connected with power, which she is not. I leave it to the English to debate whether her function is worth what they pay for it; I am not much interested in the outcome of that debate.
I am a monarchist because I am a democrat (small “d”, let us note). I believe the people are sovereign over their own daily affairs and the disposition of their own funds. But there are issues over which they have no sovereignty, and over which they should never rule. Paradoxically, this democratic vision requires a strong monarchy, if a highly-manipulated majority is not merely to become a tyranny. Kings work best in a society of subsidiarity; that is, when there are strong institutions that have their own defined rights and privileges which hem in the Monarch, or any other power that would disturb the subsidiary powers. Institutions like guilds, cooperatives, the Church, free municipalities, and many others besides. A proper political order requires a host of countervailing powers well distributed throughout the social order.
But of course that vision does not hold anywhere today. Aside from the Pope's monarchical control of one-square mile in Rome, the only actual monarch in Europe is the Grand Duke of Luxembourg, who retained the power to veto acts of the legislature that violated good order and right reason. Or at least he did until a few days ago, when he was stripped of that power. His crime? He vetoed a bill allowing euthanasia. For the crime of defending the culture of life, he lost the power to defend the culture of Europe.
He was a minor prince on a minor throne in a tiny country. But the Grand Duke was right to make one last Grand Gesture in the name of life, in the name of Europe, in the name of his own people. The best way to protect the power of the people is to see that the people do not exceed their powers. For once they do, they are open to every sort of tyranny, and are likely to get it. The Duke is accused of violating democracy; in fact he has defended it by attempting to stop its illegitimate use. Now the Duke is like the Queen a England, an expensive and living tourist attraction. Come see the wreck of Europe in their worthless crowns, in the tyranny of a democracy that is largely a sham of big money and powerful corporate interests. The last shred of monarchy, and therefore the last shred of real democracy, is gone.