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In this system, the monarch may be the person who sits on the throne, a pretender, or someone who would otherwise occupy the throne but has been deposed.
Monarchism is among the oldest political institutions, dating as early as 2900 BC and was a step up from a chiefdom for ruling a state. The rule of the monarchy was supported by the divine right of kings or the Mandate of Heaven. Absolute monarchy stands as an opposition to anarchism and additionally from the Age of Enlightenment, liberalism and communism.
In 1687-88, the Glorious Revolution and the overthrow of King James II established the principles of constitutional monarchy, which would later be worked out by Montesquieu and other thinkers. However, absolute monarchy, theorized by Hobbes in the Leviathan (1651), remained a dominant principle. In the 18th century, Voltaire and others encouraged "enlightened absolutism", which was embraced by the Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II and Catherine II of Russia.
Absolutism continued to be the dominant political principle of sovereignty until the 1789 French Revolution and the regicide against Louis XVI, which established the concept of popular sovereignty upheld by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Monarchy began to be contested by the Republican principe. Counterrevolutionaries, such as Joseph de Maistre or Louis de Bonald, sought the restoration of the Ancien Régime, divided in the three estates of the realm, and the divine right of kings.
Following the ousting of Napoleon I in 1814, the Coalition restored the Bourbon Dynasty in pushing Louis XVIII to the French throne. The ensuing period, called the Restoration, was characterized by a sharp conservative reaction and the re-establishment of the Roman Catholic Church, supported by the ultramontanism movement, as a power in French politics. After the 1830 July Revolution and the overthrow of Charles X, the legitimist branch was defeated and the Orleanists, gathered behind Louis-Philippe, accepted the principle of constitutional monarchy.
World War I and its aftermath saw the end of three major European monarchies, the Russian Romanov dynasty, the German Hohenzollern dynasty and the Austro-Hungarian Habsburg dynasty. In Russia, the 1917 February revolution resulted in the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II and the establishment of Bolshevik Russia and a civil war between the Bolshevik Red Army and the monarchist White Army from 1917 to 1921.
The rise of the Hungarian Soviet Republic in 1919 saw an increase in support for monarchism, however efforts by Hungarian monarchists failed to bring back a royal head of state, and the monarchists settled for a regent, Admiral Miklós Horthy, to represent the monarchy until it could be restored. Horthy was regent from 1920 to 1944. In Germany a number of monarchists gathered around the German National People's Party which demanded the return of the Hohenzollern monarchy and an end to the Weimar Republic. The party retained a large base of support until the rise of Nazism in the 1930s.
With the arrival of Communism in Eastern Europe by 1945, the remaining Eastern European monarchies such as the Kingdom of Romania, the Kingdom of Hungary, the Kingdom of Bulgaria and the Kingdom of Yugoslavia were all abolished and replaced by socialist republics.
The aftermath of World War II also saw the return of monarchist and republican rivalry in Italy, in which a referendum was held on whether Italy should remain a monarchy or become a republic. The republican side won the referendum (by a narrow margin) and the modern Republic of Italy was created.
Monarchism as a political force internationally has substantially diminished since the end of the Second World War, though it had an important role in the 1979 Iranian Revolution and also played a role in the modern political affairs of Nepal. Nepal was one of the last states to have had an absolute monarch, which continued until King Gyanendra of Nepal was peacefully deposed in May 2008 and Nepal became a federal republic. One of the world's oldest monarchies was abolished in Ethiopia in 1974 with the fall of Emperor Haile Selassie.
Constitutional monarchies form the majority of the current monarchies. Since the middle of the 19th century, some monarchists have stopped defending monarchy on the basis of abstract, universal principles applicable to all nations or even on the grounds that a monarchy would be the best or most practical government for the nation in question but prefer invoking local symbolic grounds that they would be a particular nation's link to the past.
The International Monarchist League, founded in 1943, which has been very influential in Canada and Australia, has always sought to promote monarchy on the grounds that it strengthens popular liberty, both in a democracy and in a dictatorship, because by definition the monarch is not beholden to politicians.
Hence, post-19th century debates on whether to preserve a monarchy or to adopt a republican form of government have often been debates over national identity, with the monarch generally serving as a symbol for other issues.
For example, in countries like Belgium and the Netherlands anti-monarchist talk is often centered around the perceived symbolism of a monarch contrasting with those nation's political culture of egalitarianism. In Belgium, another factor are the anti-Belgian sentiments of the separatist Flemish movement. The latter see the monarchy as a predominantly francophone institution of which the historical roots lie in the French-speaking elite that ruled Belgium until circa 1950s. Belgian monarchists often call themselves 'Leopoldists' after the first king of Belgium, Leopold I.
In Canada and Australia, by contrast, debates over monarchy represent or represented debates whose driving force concerned each nation's relationship with the United Kingdom and the cultural heritage that that represents. In a nation like Saudi Arabia, finally, opposition to the monarchy may be synonymous with advocacy of democracy or Islamic fundamentalism. As monarchies take many different forms, so too do pro- and anti-monarchy debates.
Otto von Habsburg advocated a form of constitutional monarchy based on the primacy of the supreme judicial function, with hereditary succession, mediation by a tribunal is warranted if suitability is problematic.
- Georg Johannes von Trapp (1880-1947)
- Manfred Reyes Villa (b. 1954)
- Sir Ian Botham (b. 1955)
- Dame Judi Dench (b. 1934)
- Boris Johnson (b. 1964)
- Michael Heseltine (b. 1933)
- Sir Elton John (b. 1947)
- Sir Tom Jones (b. 1940)
- J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973)
- C.S. Lewis (1898-1963)
- Sir Paul McCartney (b. 1942)
- Harold Wilson (1916-1995)
- Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg (1907-1944)
- Ioannis Metaxas (1871-1941)
- Radek Sikorski (b. 1963)
- Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, 1989 edition, p. 924.
- "Sumerian King List". Retrieved 7 April 2012.
- http://home1.gte.net/eskandar/ottohabsburg.html[dead link]
- Patron of Australians for Constitutional Monarchy
- "Ten things you didn't know about Tony Abbott". telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 19 Nov 2013.
- "The monarchy stands for everything that I love and I feel proud to be British. Yes, I am a royalist." (2007)
- Expressed support for the British monarchy in the TV series Royalty A-Z (2002). Narrator of The Royal Story.
- Letters, no. 52, to Christopher Tolkien, 29 November 1943
- "I am a monarchist and I think Queen Elizabeth has done a wonderful job for our beloved country. The Royal Family deserve more respect." (2003) "When you talk about our beloved Queen Elizabeth, I don’t think there is a more gracious world leader.” Princes Charles and Andrew are “intelligent, wise and kind men.” (2010)
- The Monarchist League
- Theodore's Royalty and Monarchy Site
- IMC, official site of the International Monarchist Conference.
- SYLM, Support Your Local Monarch, the independent monarchist community.
- A site to understand Monarchism a call to Monarchism today