The New Monarchs of Europe

Marie-Adelheid of Luxemburg (1894-1924), 1912. Photo: Wikpedia.

European monarchies do rather well for outdated institutes. The Grand Duke of Luxemburg Henry I of Luxemburg (1955) is the most recent proof of the pudding. In his Christmas speech of 2012 he referred to a further limitation of grand-ducal power and the necessity of modernization of the constitution. The power of the Grand-Duke is already rather restricted, but Henry almost begged for further limitations of his powers. The Grand-Duke refused to give his consent to the liberal law on euthanasia.

A similar event happened in 1912, when the Grand-Duchess Marie Adelheid (1894-1924) did not sign the liberal law on education. Religious motives were behind both refusals. In her first year as Grand-Duchess (1912-1919) she refused to sign a law. Two years later she blocked the street with her car to stop advancing German troops.

Henry I put his own right into perspective ‘Dat Recht steet mir guer net zou’ ( I should not have that right at all, that means to refuse a law, which had already passed parliament). Does this mean that the dynastic monarchy is outdated ? Countries with a dynastic head of state are among the most modern, stable and happiest in Europe. One could even argue that Spain and Belgium owe the monarchy a lot. What should have been the outcome of the coup d’etat in Spain in 1981 or the future of Belgium without monarchy ?

One could even argue that presidential systems have a profound monarchic impact, such as the (five) ´presidents´ of the EU and France. The well functioning national monarchies are subject of debate, because the system should be anachronistic and not democratic. To a certain extent that may be true, but the institute in its sole capacity of head of state performs rather well. The democratic deficit at European level is a real concern however and critics rather should concentrate on the functioning of the European Union and the ECB instead.