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Are constitutional monarchies still relevant in the 21st century?

In countries like UK or Spain, where monarchies have no longer real power, what is their role in the XXI century? Should they be abolished? Or are they really important in preserving the country's customs, political unity and representation abroad?

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    Aug 4 2012: Got an interesting situation here in the U.K. that we have a constitutional monarchy and a parliament. Had a revolution where the monarch (Charles 1) was beheaded and then Oliver Cromwell was in charge until his own death. By that point the population decided they would like a King again. George Orwell used the idea in his book 'Animal Farm'.
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    Aug 4 2012: Look at all the different types of society that existed in Ancient Greece. From Sparta to Athens and several inbetween. Look at the origin of the root of the word tyrant, look at the origin of the root of the word monarchy. It is all there in the history of ancient greece. Look at the wars between the varying states. Look at the strategies the women used to stop these wars. Women said they are not a factory for producing sons to be exploited and killed in the name of the state or of progress. Look at Socrates ideas about behaving in a way that best suits the society you are living in and Aristotle's supporting comments on finding the appropriate balance or virtue between two vices. A vice is just an excess or deficiency of a virtue, not an entity in it's own right because it is subject to social pressures. Keep thinking and debating.
    • Aug 4 2012: I see your point. However, what I am talking about are modern day monarchies that have no real power on government and are just a symbolic figure. What do you think?
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        Aug 5 2012: I don't think you can talk about current monarchies without referring to their predecessors. Which doesn't mean to say: monarchies have always existed, so they should continue to exist today. On the contrary, it means that there has always been a reason why they existed: leadership and power in Ancient Greece which current monarchies are mostly not entitled with any longer; but back then, monarchies were also a symbol for political unity and represented the respective countries abroad, just like today. Chancellors and Prime Ministers aren't so very different when it comes to what they represent and how they are seen by the people or by foreign countries. Moreover, members of royal families in the direct line of succession are educated in political issues, so it's not like they are not qualified to ascend the throne.
        • Aug 6 2012: I do agree with you Simone on the fact that emotion plays a significant role in monarchies. I believe that somehow, they are cultural patrimonies.

          I had not seen the "Cinderella Tale" argument, which is true. There is a HUGE deal of romance in monarchies.
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    Aug 4 2012: They haven't been relevant for a few centuries now, but neither does the monarchy do any harm, and it provides the people with a cultural icon they seem to derive pleasure from, otherwise they wouldn't still exist.
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    Aug 4 2012: It just a culturally symbolic figure. Despite that monarchies have no power over official business of the country, they serve as a symbol and glories of the country like UK and Spain. Monarchies in those countries boost people's pride in their own countries represent a legend
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      Aug 6 2012: Perhaps no power but a whole lot of privelege! Isn't that another form of power?
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        Aug 6 2012: It seems to me like a power to live in a royal and revered way. To people in UK and Spain, I think they overlook this kind of power as much as they enjoy the pride and symbol.
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          Aug 6 2012: I agree that when they formed the institution it is valid for them and would not even critisize it for them. However, I have every right to say it is a NO GO when it is imported to a country like Canada. I wonder what the stats are. I am half English Canadian but guess how my grandmother got here?
          She was exported from England as a 13 year old bonded servant who was told she was 18 because as an orphan she was an undesirable in England.She spent 7 years as a bonded servant - you can read it as slave because that is not too far off what they did to her. I do not feel any loyalty to a crown who accepted that and then called for Canadian boys to give their life in defense of them.
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        Aug 6 2012: Wow that was a story. Actually I still have a difficult time understanding how English people perceive this monarchy thing. Maybe there's a desirable aspect they all agree to? Or maybe they are just used to it? Like in China, lots of people still failed to see outside the box, and instead they think everything the Chinese government is doing is correct and justified. Not that English people are too blind-minded to see the downs of monarchy. They probably just see it as a symbol for the country. But like you said, you cannot transport monarchy to countries like Canada. It won't work.
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    Aug 8 2012: So far this year as an ordinary person I have had 'time-out' due to the Jubilee weekend and the Olympics. Living in Greenwich, London we literally have been told to stay at home and watch the Olympics on T.V. In the media the financial and business worlds are very upset about the loss of business from this down-time. The so called lazy workers can't be blamed this time. In the retail sector Oxford Street is incredibly quiet, so is Westfield Shopping Centre because you cannot take any liquids or food into the Olympic venues and by the time you have paid for your food and drinks on the site there is no money left to spend on the way home. Us ordinary locals have given so much to help the Olympics and the economy in general and no-one ever says thanks. We were told it might be a good time to literally book a holiday and leave London. Most people are actually working from home if their companies made that sort of arrangement for us. Times are really hard for ordinary people herre in the U.K., and yes we are taking the opportunity to have some holidays. A little down time, a rest from the incredible stresses of a capitalist economy. O.K. maybe the monarchy has no real political power any more but she is all that protects us from an aggressive and exhausting economic model that demands we work, above our family needs, above our children's needs, above our own health and sanity. Yes the monarchy is expensive and anachronistic but we need it. Look at the wonderful stunt in the opening ceremony of the Olympics. No we do not throw octogenarians out of helicopters, it was a way of thanking the Queen for her very important contribution to our society and she joined in the fun with her immaculate timing. British humour is very important as it is what gets us through the dark times.
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    Aug 7 2012: They have no power and thank goodness for that. A system where you are born into power and the people are powerless to decide what nationalist Fanatic becomes their next leader is a state of affairs worth avoiding. They serve one purpose which they share with the Vatican, and that is tourism. Although they both really ought to be removed and torn down they sure drive in the tourists and tags the only reason monarchies have been allowed to survive, theyve monopolised their own existence
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    Aug 6 2012: It is none of my business if some nation wants to have a king or queen.
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      Aug 6 2012: As a Canadian, I have a different view. Everything that happens in the USA affects my life one way or another and thus I feel it is my business. Do you feel that persons of other nationalities have no right to comment on what happens in your country? If so, I am sorry but I do not see it that way and I am sorry too to have appeared an interloper.
      I would welcome any opinon of any informed person whose intent was to help me and my nation.
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        Aug 6 2012: I firmly believe anyone, anywhere has a right to comment about what happens in my country. Mr. Donado's question asks my opinion regarding the relevance of constitutional monarchies in this day and age. And, more specifically, he asks if I think they should be "abolished". As one vehemently opposed to the concept of One World government, a la U.N., I truly believe it is none of my business to advocate for the abolishment of any free nation's form of government. I do welcome informed, helpful opinions intended for the sorely needed betterment of my nation (USA). Thanks Ms. Smith for your passion and love for Canada.
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          Aug 6 2012: Great response as always Edward!
          Ps I love the UN but you guessed that already!
        • Aug 6 2012: Great answer Mr. Long. The debate is exactly about this. Hearing different points of view on a controversial issue. Thank you for your comment.
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          Aug 7 2012: I still think they should be abolished... because, honestly... I'm a bit childish. I think if I were to try to maintain an air of objectivity however, I would enjoy your answer more than mine.
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    Aug 6 2012: No. They should be abolished... Palaces, and monarchal symbols, should be claimed as public space for events, to increase tourism. Monarchs are a tax, which take from the poor, and distribute to the rich. Also, they tend to be horrible examples of culture, because most of them were inbred with one another, until very recently.
    • Aug 6 2012: In fact, most palaces and monarchal symbols are state owned. For instance, Buckingham Palace does not belong to the Queen. It is 100% state-owned, as all the jewls and historical artifacts.
  • Aug 4 2012: No
    Not even close
  • Aug 4 2012: What do you guys think about the economic implications? Taxpayers contributing to their lavish lifestyles? But, they attract tourism, and are a whole industry on their own. For instance, Monaco was saved from economic disaster when Prince Rainier married Grace Kelly and the whole world turned to them, going there to spend millions, and helped to create this tiny paradise that it is today. What do you think?
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      Aug 4 2012: The British love their monarchy and it appears that they also support them financially. As I understand it Canada merely sends wedding presents and gives welcoming gifts but foots the bill for their trips here. We also have one royal (A Canadian girl who married in). and their child is in the line of succession.
      • Aug 4 2012: debra, how do you feel about your tax dollars being spent on this people's trips?
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          Aug 4 2012: We are discussing one of the richest families in the world and I feel strongly that they are able to pay their own way and someof our own poor should have the advantage of that money being spent on them or in support of things that benefit us all. They do not generate revenue through tourism here, I do not believe, Juan.
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          Aug 5 2012: I strongly agree with Debra. As she said, the British are fond of their monarchy and the Queen is a remarkable person. Although we all have long ago outgrown fairy tales of princesses and knights, I think monarchies are still surrounded by a certain romantic aura -- and the values they represent live on. I think Monaco definitely is a great example for that (a Cinderella tale).

          I also think that royal families are able to pay their bills with their own money and I highly doubt that taxpayers' money is spent on royal décor. As for tourism... why not? People travel everywhere and anywhere to see the most amazing buildings and to attend the most stupid events. It's great that we are curious to see what's out there, what's going on in the world. I wouldn't say no to a guided tour through the royal palace... :)
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    Aug 4 2012: It depends on the people of those nations. If the monarchs were tyrants it would have been easy to make a case against them. But the fact that we are in a new century does not mean that all things that are not new or recent should be abolished.
    • Aug 4 2012: I agree 100% with you! Sometimes people just seek change for the sake of change, and I think that is stupid.
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    Aug 4 2012: Not to me and I live in one.I truly believe that Canada should be polite but when the Queen passes away so should that era. King Charles- I don't think so.
    • Aug 4 2012: Debra, What do you mean with polite? Well, I do not think you should overthrow a monarchy just because you do not happen to like one of the monarchs. Its like saying that I do not want America to be a republic anymore because Romney could become a president. Nice to hear from a Canadian, do you as a Canadian feel that the figure of the Monarch is at all good for your country?
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        Aug 4 2012: Juan, I meant nothing controversial there, only that even though i have always believed in democratic principles and even though hereditary government is "bat shit crazy' to quote another Canadian on another thread, I do not think anything should be done now especially because "Her majesty is a pretty nice girl" to quote a Beatles song, not even really complain about it. I think we should merely choose to address it at a natural time of transition as will happen when this elderly lady passes away. I THINK the monarchy is a British institution and most of our citizens do not even hale from a British background (even though we like them too). I do not on that basis think it should continue to stand as it seems so heirarchical and we are anything but that.

        A Jim Croce song tells a lot of how our boys were treated from every corner of the world:

        http://youtu.be/pZyy6GxK7g4
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          Aug 4 2012: Hi Debra
          What impact you have in Canada, having British Queen as thr queen of Canada ?

          To me it's nothing but symbol of Colonial Mastery........my country was also a British Colony but interestingly British didn't establish that tradition for us to follow....though they created a group called COMMOWEALTH countries, which to my feeling is nothing but a club of ex Britsih Colonies having the Master on the head chair abstractly.
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        Aug 4 2012: Hi Salim, Yes we had the same queen.
        I too am part of the commonwealth. What mostly informs my sentiment is that the British treated Canadians and Indians and Australians as fodder in their wars and I resent it. There are towns in Canada where there was not one man left above 14 years old because they had all died fighting for good old England and often the British put them in front especially in heated battles to act as human shields or disposable people. It really ticks me off and even though the monarchy was noble in England, they did nothing to give our boys and neighbours a fair shake and we were in from the very beginning of the wars .
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    Aug 4 2012: It's the decision of people of individual countries......
    My country doesn't have one , if had one , I would be voting to abolish....

    Don't understand what it means by Customs of the counrty ?
    Almost all countries had kings , emperors in past....what so specific to some countries it to be their custom only ?
    Not sure how they help in political unity ?
    Don't the countries which don't have a monarch have political unity?
    Will love to hear from friends here to learn how monarchs helping in todays world political unity of individual countries who still have monarchs.
    • Aug 4 2012: Well, one of the things I actually like about constitutional monarchies is that the head of state has no political affiliation. I think that that helps to political unity and stability.