Monarchies in Europe
There are currently twelve (12) sovereign monarchies in Europe: the Principality of Andorra, the Kingdom of Belgium, the Kingdom of Denmark, the Principality of Liechtenstein, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, the Principality of Monaco, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Kingdom of Norway, the Kingdom of Spain, the Kingdom of Sweden, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the State of the Vatican City. Ten of these are states where the head of state (a monarch) inherits his or her office, and usually keeps it for life or until they abdicate. As for the other two: in the Vatican City (an elective monarchy, styled as an absolute theocracy), the head of state, the Sovereign (who is a Pope), is elected at the papal conclave, while in Andorra (technically a semi-elective diarchy), the joint heads of state are the elected President of France and the Bishop of Urgell, appointed by the Pope.
Most of the monarchies in Europe are constitutional monarchies, which means that the monarch does not influence the politics of the state: either the monarch is legally prohibited from doing so, or the monarch does not utilize the political powers vested in the office by convention. The exceptions are Liechtenstein, which is usually considered a semi-constitutional monarchy due to the large influence the prince still has on politics, and the Vatican City, which is a theocratic absolute elective monarchy. There is currently no major campaign to abolish the monarchy (see monarchism and republicanism) in any of the twelve states, although there is a significant minority of republicans in many of them (e.g. the political organisation Republic in the United Kingdom). Currently seven of the twelve monarchies are members of the European Union: Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
At the start of the 20th century, France, Switzerland and San Marino were the only European nations to have a republican form of government. The ascent of republicanism to the political mainstream started only at the beginning of the 20th century, facilitated by the toppling of various European monarchies through war or revolution; as at the beginning of the 21st century, most of the states in Europe are republics with either a directly or indirectly elected head of state.
- 1 Current monarchies
- 2 Succession laws
- 3 Table of monarchies in Europe
- 4 Calls for abolition
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 Further reading
Andorra has been a co-principality since the signing of a paréage in 1278, when the count of Foix and the bishop of La Seu d'Urgell agreed to share sovereignty over the landlocked country. After the title of the count of Foix had been passed to the kings of Navarre, and after Henry of Navarre had become Henry IV of France, an edict was issued in 1607 which established the French head of state as the legal successor to the count of Foix in regard to the paréage. Andorra was annexed by the First French Empire together with Catalonia in 1812–1813. After the Empire's demise, Andorra became independent again. The current joint monarchs are Bishop Joan Enric Vives Sicília and President François Hollande of France.
Belgium has been a kingdom since 21 July 1831 without interruption, after it became independent from the United Kingdom of the Netherlands with Léopold I as its first king. Belgium is the only remaining popular monarchy in the world: The monarch is formally known as the "King of the Belgians", not the "King of Belgium". While in a referendum held on 12 March 1950, 57.68 per cent of the Belgians voted in favor of allowing Léopold III, whose conduct during World War II had been considered questionable and who had been accused of treason, to return to the throne; due to civil unrest, he opted to abdicate in favor of his son Baudouin I on 16 July 1951. The current monarch is Philippe.
In Denmark, the monarchy goes back to the prehistoric times of the legendary kings, before the 10th century. Currently, about 80 per cent support keeping the monarchy. The current monarch is Margrethe II. The Danish monarchy also includes the Faroe Islands and Greenland which are parts of the Kingdom of Denmark with internal home rule. Due to this status, the monarch has no separate title for these regions.
Liechtenstein formally came into existence on 23 January 1719, when Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor decreed the lordship of Schellenberg and the countship of Vaduz united and raised to the dignity of a principality. Liechtenstein was a part of the Holy Roman Empire until the Treaty of Pressburg was signed on 26 December 1805; this marked Liechtenstein's formal independence, though it was a member of the Confederation of the Rhine and the German Confederation afterwards. While Liechtenstein was still closely aligned with Austria-Hungary until World War I, it realigned its politics and its customs and monetary institutions with Switzerland instead. Having been a constitutional monarchy since 1921, Hans-Adam II demanded more influence in Liechtenstein's politics in the early 21st century, which he was granted in a referendum held on 16 March 2003, effectively making Liechtenstein a semi-constitutional monarchy again. However, the constitutional changes also provide for the possibility of a referendum to abolish the monarchy entirely. The current monarch is Hans-Adam II, who turned over the day-to-day governing decisions to his son and heir Alois, Hereditary Prince of Liechtenstein on 15 August 2004.
Luxembourg has been an independent grand duchy since 9 June 1815. Originally, Luxembourg was in personal union with the United Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Kingdom of the Netherlands from 16 March 1815 until 23 November 1890. While Wilhelmina succeeded Willem III in the Netherlands, this was not possible in Luxembourg due to the order of succession being based on Salic law at that time; he was succeeded instead by Adolphe. In a referendum held on 28 September 1919, 80.34 per cent voted in favor of keeping the monarchy. The current monarch is Henri.
Monaco has been ruled by the House of Grimaldi since 1297. From 1793 until 1814, Monaco was under French control; the Congress of Vienna designated Monaco as being a protectorate of the Kingdom of Sardinia from 1815 until 1860, when the Treaty of Turin ceded the surrounding counties of Nice and Savoy to France. Menton and Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, part of Monaco until the mid-19th century before seceding in hopes of being annexed by Sardinia, were ceded to France in exchange for 4,000,000 French francs with the Franco-Monegasque Treaty in 1861, which also formally guaranteed Monaco its independence. Until 2002, Monaco would have become part of France had the house of Grimaldi ever died out; in a treaty signed that year, the two nations agreed that Monaco would remain independent even in such a case. The current monarch is Albert II.
The Netherlands originally became independent as the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands, which lasted from 26 July 1581 until 18 January 1795, when the Netherlands became a French puppet state as the Batavian Republic. The Batavian Republic existed from 19 January 1795 until 4 June 1806. It was transformed into the Kingdom of Holland on 5 June 1806; since then, the Netherlands have been a kingdom. They were subsequently annexed to the French Empire in 1810. The United Kingdom of the Netherlands was established on 16 March 1815. With the independence of Belgium on 21 July 1831, the Netherlands again took a new form, as the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Nowadays, about 70 to 80 per cent of the Dutch are in favor of keeping the monarchy. The current monarch is Willem-Alexander.
Norway was united and independent for the first time in 872, as a kingdom. It is thus one of the oldest monarchies in the world, along with the Swedish and Danish ones. Norway was part of the Kalmar Union from 1397 until 1524, then part of Denmark–Norway from 1536 until 1814, and finally part of the Union between Sweden and Norway from 1814 until 1905. Norway became completely independent again on 7 June 1905. Support for establishing a republic lies around 20 per cent. The current monarch is Harald V.
Spain came into existence as a single, united kingdom under Charles I of Spain on 23 January 1516. The monarchy was briefly abolished by the First Spanish Republic from 11 February 1873 until 29 December 1874. The monarchy was abolished again on 14 April 1931, first by the Second Spanish Republic – which lasted until 1 April 1939 – and subsequently by the dictatorship of Francisco Franco, who ruled until his death on 20 November 1975. Monarchy was restored on 22 November 1975 under Juan Carlos I, who was also the monarch until is abdication in 2014. His son Felipe VI is the current monarch. Today, there is a large number of organisations campaigning in favor of establishing a Third Spanish Republic; Data from 2006 suggest that only 25 per cent of Spaniards are in favor of establishing a republic, however, the numbers have increased since Juan Carlos I abdicated.
Sweden’s monarchy goes back as far as the Danish one, to the semi–legendary kings before the 10th century, since then it has not been interrupted. However, the unification of the rivalling kingdoms Svealand and Götaland (consolidation of Sweden) did not occur until some time later, possibly in the early 11th century. The current royal family, the House of Bernadotte, has reigned since 1818. The current monarch is Carl XVI Gustaf.
The monarchy of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland can be defined to have started either with the Kingdoms of England (871) or Scotland (843), with the Union of the Crowns on 24 March 1603, or with the Acts of Union of 1 May 1707. It was briefly interrupted by the English Interregnum, with the Commonwealth of England existing in its stead from 30 January 1649 until 15 December 1653 and from 26 May 1659 until 25 May 1660 and The Protectorate taking its place from 16 December 1653 until 25 May 1659. The current monarch is Elizabeth II.
Support for establishing a republic instead of a monarchy was around 18 per cent in the United Kingdom in 2006, while a majority thinks that there will still be a monarchy in the United Kingdom in ten years' time, public opinion is rather uncertain about a monarchy still existing in fifty years and a clear majority believes that the monarchy will no longer exist in a century since the poll was done. Public opinion is, however, certain that the monarchy will still exist in thirty years. About 30 per cent are in favour of discontinuing the monarchy after Elizabeth's death.
The monarch of the United Kingdom is also the monarch of the fifteen other Commonwealth realms, none of which are in Europe. Some of these realms have significant levels of support for republicanism.
Differently from the Holy See, in existence for almost two thousand years, the Vatican City was not a sovereign state until the 20th century. In the 19th century the annexation of the Papal States by the Kingdom of Sardinia, and the subsequent establishment of the Kingdom of Italy, was not recognized by the Vatican. However, by the Lateran Treaty of 1929, the Kingdom of Italy recognized Vatican City as an independent city state, and vice versa. Since then, the elected monarch of the Vatican City state has been the current pope. The pope still officially carries the title "King of the Ecclesiastical State" (in Latin: Rex Status Ecclesiæ).
This section is outdated.(September 2015)
The succession order is determined by primogeniture in most European monarchies. Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom now adhere to absolute primogeniture, whereby the eldest child inherits the throne, regardless of gender; Monaco and Spain have the older system of male-preference primogeniture, while Liechtenstein uses agnatic primogeniture. Norway will adopt absolute primogeniture for the grandchildren of King Harald V, but his second child and only son, Crown Prince Haakon remains the heir apparent over his older sister, Princess Märtha Louise.
There are plans to change to absolute primogeniture in Spain through a rather complicated processes, as the change entails a constitutional amendment. Two successive parliaments will have to pass the law by a two-thirds majority and then put it to a referendum. As parliament has to be dissolved and new elections have to be called after the constitutional amendment is passed for the first time, the previous Presidente del Gobierno José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero indicated he would wait until the end of his first term in 2008 before passing the law, although this deadline passed without the referendum being called. The amendment enjoys strong public support.
To change the order of succession in the United Kingdom, as the Queen of the United Kingdom is also the queen of the fifteen other Commonwealth realms, a change has to be agreed and made by all of the Commonwealth realms together. Since the need for change is not imminent yet (as Charles, Prince of Wales, will succeed his mother Elizabeth II, and Charles's oldest son Prince William, Duke of Cambridge will succeed him in turn, with no older sisters who would be skipped under the current male-preference primogeniture laws), the change has repeatedly been postponed. While the Equality Bill was at first expected to both abolish the preference for male heirs as well as the barring of Catholics from the throne at some point in 2008, this was later changed because of the complexity of agreeing simultaneous legislation in 16 states, and it seemed that there were no concrete plans to change the order of succession in the close future. It was later reported that the marriage between Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Catherine Middleton might drive change. The heads of government of all 16 states in the Commonwealth of Nations that share the same person as their respective monarch concluded at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2011, in what came to be known as the Perth Agreement, to attempt to change the rules to equal primogeniture and also abolish the ban against the monarchy being married to a Roman Catholic). In the United Kingdom, the Succession to the Crown Act 2013 was enacted, and after completion of the legislative alterations required in some other realms, the changes came into effect across the Commonwealth realms on 26 March 2015.
Liechtenstein uses agnatic primogeniture (aka Salic law), which completely excludes women from the order of succession unless there are no male heirs of any kind present, and was criticised for this by a United Nations committee for this perceived gender equality issue in November 2007.
Luxembourg also used agnatic primogeniture until 20 June 2011, when absolute primogeniture was introduced.
Table of monarchies in Europe
Calls for abolition
Due to the ongoing economic crisis in Europe beginning in 2008, the value of monarchies, and especially of the civil lists or appanages allocated to some members of reigning families (not just the sovereign and consort) have come under increased scrutiny by members of the citizenry. Some taxpayers object to these endowments, in their entirety or in part, as in some cases members of dynasties draw hundreds of thousands or millions of euros from national coffers per year, depending on the family member in question. Others express concern that during a period of rising inequality of wealth and, in some cases, growing poverty, royalty should receive no allowances, accept cuts, or pay increased taxes.
Organisations which actively campaign to eliminate one or more of Europe's ten remaining hereditary constitutional monarchies and/or to liquidate assets reserved for reigning families, include Alliance of European Republican Movements, Republic in the United Kingdom and Hetis2013. Also, some political parties (e.g. Podemos in Spain) have stepped up and called for national referenda to abolish monarchies.
- List of European Union member states by political system
- Monarchies in the Americas
- Monarchies in Oceania
- Monarchies in Africa
- Monarchies in Asia
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- Endowment of Dutch royal family members
- Endowment for Belgian royal family members
- EU economic crisis causing massive rise in poverty
- Podemos calling upon referendum, ref 1
- Podemos calling upon referendum, ref 2
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