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Monday, 12 April, 2004, 09:03 GMT 10:03 UK
Are monarchies relevant in the 21st Century?
Do monarchies have any relevance in the 21st Century?
On Friday Australians will be voting in a referendum to decide whether to abolish the monarchy and become a republic.

Appearing on Talking Point On Air this week were a leading republican here in the UK, Professor Stephen Haseler, and a constitutional monarchist from Australia, Nigel Greenwood. They answered your questions, and Diana Madill and Sandy Walsh presented the progamme.

Do you think that there is a place for monarchies in the 21st Century? Are they nothing more than symbolic figureheads with little or no influence? Do you wish your country had a monarch, or if it does, do you wish it hadn't?

Select the link below to watch Talking Point On Air's debate on the monarchy.


Your comments since the programme:

To David A. Sambrano: The Australians are doing just fine right now with our Queen as their head of state. At least they seem to think so, as they voted to keep her! (Well done to the Aussies - you did two good things that day. You beat the French and you kept our Queen. Hooray!)
Nicola Booth, England

Oh god no! Coming from a country that rid its monarchy just 25 years ago, I have to tell, you, it's the best thing we ever did. The monarchy supported the military coup in 1967, which eventually overthrew the monarchy itself. Eight years later, after the dictatorship fell, we voted on a national referendum to get rid of the monarchy. From then on, it's been progress. European Union membership in 1981, re-industrialization in the 1980s, a strengthening of our economy and major industries (especially shipping and banking), growing harmony between democratic socialism and privatization, and more importantly, our economic miracle of the 1990s. All of this was done by a democratically elected govt. God bless the republic! The monarchy is dead!
AG, Greece

A monarch gives us some chance of being represented by a politically neutral figure. Quite happy with the Queen, thank you, given that the alternative could be someone like Blair or Clinton.
Lori Whitley, England

How will we identify our nationhood in future? Our unwritten but vital constitution in tatters, no Monarchy, no Pound, no Union (or unity) between England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland or Commonwealth, Europe?
The economy is not our national identity, our history is! We seem determined to implement change for changes sake. European ideals will not replace individual national identity (unless all its members give up sovereignty, language and flag).
Unfashionable though it may be I think at this time we need to retain as many aspects of our history as possible, modified to today's needs but more or less intact, without them we will lose our roots - without roots our nationhood will wither.
Martin, UK

As citizen of a country which has a constitutional monarchy I think it's great that we have a royal family, also in the 21st century. The cultures from the different countries are getting more and more the same. With this in mind I think that we should embrace the traditions that we have, one being the monarchy.
I know that tradition is never a reason, especially nowadays, so I will give another good reason: P.R. At a cost of 30 million pounds a year, our queen Beatrix promotes the Netherlands with any world-leader she meets. A lot of people in America and the rest of the world know Beatrix and by that the Netherlands. I say that's a bargain.
Koen de Regt, Netherlands

I understand that having a monarch as head of state can be important in upholding the traditions of a country, but what I am unable to comprehend is why the monarch is not obliged to pay taxes like any other citizen. The Monarchy in the UK costs the British people around 60 billion pounds a year for just their upkeep. I believe that this money could be very well spent in some other manner.
Why can't the British monarchy be more like its European counterparts? The Spanish royal family lead lives which are very similar to their citizens. The King and Queen of Spain are not afraid to walk down a street in Madrid without a bodyguard; and they are overall more approachable by the public. This is one of the main reasons why the Spanish people cherish their royal family so much. I think the British royal family could learn a lot from the Spanish or even Dutch royal families.
Christina West, USA

I greatly admire the Queen as do most Americans. A monarchy would not work here, but it adds much to England.
James S. Ullman, USA

Although I think of myself as being left of centre, I see the British Monarch as a symbol of history and a link to that history. I agree however that some of the anachronisms that have been associated with the monarchy such as the exclusion of Catholics, the monarch as "Supreme Governor" of the C of E etc are not defensible.
I have often thought that the perfect arrangement would be a constitutional monarchy with a socialist government. I know that the monarchy part is there but is the Labour Government socialist?? That boggles the mind.
Brian Delaney, USA

I live in a country that is the youngest of all. Yet, our heritage came from Europe and No monarchy was brought. Look what happened. We did just fine and so will Australia. As we say here in the states, "GO FOR IT"!
David A. Sambrano, USA

I think monarchy represents history its just like a time tunnel which takes you into the past. Although it does not have any political significance in this century but it has a historical importance!
Saima, Pakistan

Monarchy should be abolished totally, except in a museum. It is an insult to human collective intelligence. The idea of a chosen human being to be king/queen is absurd and demeaning. It time has passed...let's bury it once and for all time.
Sileshi Kassa, United States

NO, Do you really want Camilla to be Queen? I do not think the monarchy in the UK is relevant now. It is bad enough we have Bill Clinton as president, Prince Charles is not much better.
Nathan Sassaman, USA

In Denmark most people agree that although our monarch, the Queen Margrethe II, does not govern, we like being a monarchy! I think about 90% would say that they are happy for having her as one of the best diplomats a country can have! She is a very talented artist and very, very intelligent... What will happen when the Crown Prince Frederik takes over in hopefully many years is another thing...
Bettina Loehmann, Denmark

I, for one, would no more wish to get rid of the monarchy in Britain than I would, say, wish to mine the White Cliffs of Dover for roading materials, demolish the Tower of London to make room for apartments or put a motorway through the Lake District. One could think of many such proposals that could be promoted as sensible, practical and economic measures, but I think most people would agree that not everything in our society necessarily has to be judged in this way.

To argue the case for or against the monarchy on such grounds is to miss the point entirely. The Monarchy and many other aspects of our environment and culture are there for us cherish if we wish to and we are entitled to value them as important to our society as they are without always having to justify this on commercial, egalitarian or other such similar grounds. To try and submit the monarchy to a searching modern political logic is futile (and anyway isn't that "logic" just as likely to be as evanescent and subject to change as all the other aspects of our lives?)

I reckon that the current behaviour of the monarchy is neither worse nor better than the society in which it resides, and to expect otherwise is totally naive. I would feel very sad if the monarchy was abolished. It is generally so much easier to knock something down than it is to replace it. We will have, and will continue to enjoy and cherish the monarchy as long as our society would like to. It is my hope that this will be a very long time. (say at least to 2999) (Ex-Pat but still rather British!)
J K Monro, New Zealand

Serbia has experienced the most evil of all governments for the past 50 years - Communism. It has brought us loss of identity as a nation, loss of land, poverty beyond belief, corruption from top to bottom where everone is involved in theft; poor medical treatment and schooling ... the list is endless. Had Serbia stayed a monarchy doesn't anyone agree we would be in a different position? Today over 80% of Serbs support the monarchy, strangely enough mostly young people - tomorrow's generation. Need we say more? Long live the King!
NS Royal Club, Serbia

Monarchy, like the Lords, are part of our heritage - how we got to the evolved state that we are in now. We should not destroy our heritage - what will further generations have to say about what we do now?
Simon Treleaven, UK

Monarchy and the hereditary principle are anathema to all things democratic. Monarchy encourages right-wing backward looking politics, which is a hindrance to the development of mankind. In short, monarchy is the past, not the future. Don't kill them, put them in a museum to laugh at.
Robin Crag, United Kingdom

I, for one, would no more wish to get rid of the monarchy in Britain than I would, say, wish to mine the White Cliffs of Dover for roading materials, demolish the Tower of London to make room for apartments or put a motorway through the Lake District. One could think of many such proposals that could be promoted as sensible, practical and economic measures, but I think most people would agree that not everything in our society necessarily has to be judged in this way.
To argue the case for or against the monarchy on such grounds is to miss the point entirely. The Monarchy and many other aspects of our environment and culture are there for us cherish if we wish to and we are entitled to value them as important to our society as they are without always having to justify this on commercial, egalitarian or other such similar grounds. To try and submit the monarchy to a searching modern political logic is futile.
J K Monro, New Zealand

England and Britain must move forward but we cannot do this without a firm knowledge of who we are and of our history. Our history reminds us of all the good and bad we have done as a nation and these things are essential for us to be able to become a major world power again. Our monarchy is the greatest reminder we have of our selves and of what we can achieve when we work together.
Alexander Blacklock, England

Greece used to have monarchs as well. But almost 30 years ago we got rid of this institution. Believe me we Greeks, as well as all people around the world can manage our lives, through democracy and without monarchs, dictators etc. Be brave enough and meet the next century with an open mind.
Nikos, Greece

President or Monarch? It's not a difficult choice - who would you rather have - a power hungry deceitful politician or a powerless figurehead - who wore nice jewellery?
Bart, UK

Good luck to the Australians in voting to remove the monarchy - why shouldn't they be able to become a republic? As long as ties are only cut with the Royals and not the rest of the country they should go for it. They can be sure that the monarchy cares little about their subjects anyway-they may make one or two public appearances to keep their faithful happy-but they are far too busy sponging off the tax payers and fox-hunting to care what the people think.
Lawrence Williams, England

I wouldn't want to restore those monarchies that have gone, including in my own country. But on the whole, if the monarch doesn't have too many powers and can add a little glamour to life, why not. And often the national identity is closely connected to having a King or Queen. And in some cases, like in Spain where King Juan Carlos prevented a military coup, the monarch can be an additional guaranty of stability.
Christian von Baudissin, Germany

During the debate here in Australia I frequently hear comments linking democracy with the monarchy. With such comments in mind I ask what is democratic about the coming together of a Greek, German, Russian sperm with a Anglo-scots German ovum that must as a consequence of the coupling produce a male child who is a protestant? If some one can answer this question satisfactorily maybe I will vote for their Democratic Monarchy, maybe?
David Chadwick, Australia

The monarchy I believe are relevant in a democratic society. In order to survive the next century, they must be more aligned with the people of their country .If a woman has to retire at 60 then why not the Queen? This I'm sure would be a positive step with Prince Charles given an opportunity and not forever be the bridesmaid at fifty!
Mark G Griffiths, UK

A good constitutional monarchy has proved a valuable resource for stability. Granted it should be modern, relate to the times and demographics. No political role should be played. As a representation of a nation, cultural heritage AND safeguard from political tyrant (a last resort). Just a few reasons to either keep or restore relevant monarchies. The age of privilege has of course passed to another genre┐media idols & mega-business tycoons. Monarchy should be beyond that as well. Sadly, in some cases this has not happened. But it is not irredeemable by any means
Robert Hall, USA

It's high time that Britain entered the modern era and got rid of its monarchy too. Not just an undemocratic but cute bit of anachronism, it's a living embodiment of English triumphanlism and Anglican establishmentarianism. Until it is gone, England will never truly be friends with Catholic countries such as Ireland. Get rid of it, and infinite possibilities open up.
To take an immodest example, it makes possible a federation on equal terms between England, Scotland, Wales and a united, secular Ireland, thus solving the UK's (and the EU's) bloodiest ongoing conflict. And here's another idea - make the Isle of Man the Capital!
Laurence White, Australia

As an American, I am embarrassed by some of the comments of my countrymen on this subject. Some of those comments were down right ignorant: there is, for instance, no similarity between a constitutional monarch and a dictator. What matters is that you have a constitutional government. In many ways the UK is more democratic than we. It is simply none of our business whether you, Brits, have a monarch, a president, or a guide dog as head of state.
Martin Stern, USA

Today I read the headline that the majority of Brits are at least wary, if not against, closer integration with Europe because of the risk of losing our identity. In the same breath I then read of a growing number of people who want to reject our identity and dump the Queen in favour of a "democraticly elected" president. It would be interesting to combine these two debates about identity to see who is a hypocrite!?
Neil, UK

The thought of King Charles and Queen Camilla in the 21st century is all too frightening!!! God rest the Queen!!!!
Sarah Kelly, Australia

I think that the monarchy is relevant in modern times in a different way than in the past. The monarchy is no longer relevant in a political sense, but is important from a heritage and cultural perspective. The monarchy is the historical and cultural focal point of British society and those cultures and societies that were spawned by Britain. Would you demolish the pyramids or St. Paul's cathedral because they are no longer relevant? Let's keep the monarchy as a living and colourful relic of the history of the English speaking world.
Frank Duke, Australia

A Monarch is more impartial than an elected president and can be a greater force for stability in any crisis. The example of presidents in many countries is not good and here in NZ we are largely (over 60%) in favour of retaining the Crown. Democracy is not always the best option and many large organisations such as the Roman Catholic Church are far from democratic. Leave well alone.
G.S.Brown, New Zealand

If tradition and identity are relevant, then so is the Monarchy. In America, we still think of ourselves as a sort of estranged Briton (at least those of Anglo-Saxon descent do) Which may well account for our fascination with the British Monarchy. No matter how far we go, we cannot escape the fact that it is part of who we are and where we have come from. I would think it would be the same for Australia. And how can members of the government and armed forces disavow their sworn allegiance?
Michael Long, USA

Of course the monarchy is still relevant. If countries ignore there past they throw away their history, culture and sense of nation. Those who seek to destroy the fundamental values which shaped free Western nations do so only to promote their own current political ideals. Because there is poverty and the Royal family is rich does not mean getting rid of them will assist anyone. In fact Presidents are far more expensive to maintain than Royalty.
Edgar, Australia

Now we are about to leave the 20th century behind, perhaps it is time to seriously consider leaving the monarchy in that century as well. Many arguments are made but the Royals bring tourists to the UK, why then do Brits & others visit so many different countries who do not have a Royalty.....the scenery, the buildings and the people.
The Monarchy did have a place in a country when there was no Govt, and rule was needed. Now we have Govts why have a Royalty? How much of the taxpayers money could be diverted to worthy causes (cancer research etc) if it wasn't being funnelled to the Monarchy? They deserve the respect of a nation but with the age of a new century, they should go.
Marc, Wales

Don't abolish monarchies! Without them there's less gossip.
Martin van den Bogaerdt, The Netherlands

Monarchies are irrelevant to modern society. But the solution that the Australian republicans are proposing is no better. If you want a republic, a TRUE republic, then the people have the right to elect whomever they wish to represent them in government, including their president! It would be like in America, electing the President and then having the Vice-President chosen from the Senate. It is a way to keep power amongst those whom the elite feels will go along with their own wishes. Australia, grow up! And the same thing to Britain! Think of how much you would save each year in taxes! You could do QUITE a bit with that money!
Ian McClosky, United States

Stop supporting them. Let them retain their figurehead status if they wish, but give the House of Commons confirmation power and the power to impeach. And get rid of the sex and religious restrictions. This business of the monarch being head of the Church of England is another anachronism.
Diana Bemis, US

Monarchies have always higher status in peoples minds than republics. That is a fact that every Australian should consider. In Australia the prime minister has real power in his hands. So where do you need a president? Germany has a president, but who can remember his name? The British monarchy is something so unique, that from my Finnish point of view (Finland is a republic) Australians should keep their royal heritage. Monarchies are indeed relevant because human nature needs real princes and princesses. Just think about Diana or Victoria of Sweden.
Kimmo Torvinen, Finland

Britain would miss the monarchy. Maybe not in good times but in bad ones
Alf, Switzerland

Why waste any more hard-earned money to continue to support them and, also, why continue to believe in the "blue blood" theory. Some day all of us have to give up our life style and learn to live as equals.
Balan Nair, USA

In the days when monarchy was relevant they acted bloodily, they had power unhindered by accountability. These days the 'Royals' are highly-paid soap-opera stars who try to sound worthy and hip in after-dinner speeches. In the West, they are no real threat to democracy, but they should be abolished out of kindness.
Roger Thomas, Cymru

The Government is in the process of reforming the House of Lords, lets go the whole hog and remove the monarchy.
Steve Wallis, UK

The monarchy is one of the strongest parts of our roots. They are our biggest tourist attraction. Most Americans here are very proud of their roots especially if there is British ancestry.
Lesley , USA

The continued existence of a British monarchy reflects our obsession with living in the past. All societies must have regard to their history to live in it, is to be doomed to staying there. Britain must move on and an end to the monarchy is an essential step to our doing so.
Garnet Harrison, UK

The head of state serves two principal purposes: as a figurehead of the nation; and as a constitutional safeguard in extremis. The Queen, brought up with that knowledge and that purpose in mind, has shown herself to be a more enduring and respected figure than any other head of state, and has played her constitutional role with tact, dignity, and good sense.
Charles Brasted, UK

Human life itself is a miracle that no one has yet explained. The mere existence of a monarchy introduces racism and hatred within society. Monarchies are kept and funded by people's hard work (blood and sweat). Anyone and everyone should be recognised by their achievements and not through family ties. Monarchy has no place in our society, now or in the future.
Zahir Hanslot, England

The "Crown" is a constitutional mechanism that is in balance with the two houses of Parliament and the Judiciary to ensure stability. How many people "know" who they are voting for? Elections have a place in the big scheme of things but only a fool would believe that elections cannot be manipulated to feed the power hungry.
Keith Perchard, Channel Islands

Why should we pay for a royal family to live in grand palaces, accountable to no-one with potential power of intervention in the political process when there are so many disenfranchised people living on the streets? The Duke of Edinburgh is a racist bigot and his position gives publicity to his shameful views. The monarchy should be abolished - the "royal family" could set up as a charitable trust maintained by donations from their supporters.
Ellen, England

Any kind of monarchy or dictatorship is now obsolete. All nations should become libertarian, constitutional republics. Government should serve the people, not rule them.
David Quam, USA

Charles is next in line. He talks to plants, butchers foxes and fantasises about being a tampon. Bet you overseas surfers wish he was your future King.
Pamela Armstrong, UK

To my mind, the whole "head of the state" institution is superfluous in a parliamentary democracy. Huge amounts of money and effort is spent for presidential elections, for instance. For nothing.
Markku, Finland

The British monarchy in particular which in Canada provides us with our head of State represents principles which are anathema to our Charter of Rights. Where the Charter guarantees equality between men and women our head of state is chosen according to the principle of male primogeniture in which sons are promoted over daughters in the line of succession. Where the Charter bars discrimination on the basis of religion the rules governing the monarchy bar Catholics from sitting on the throne. How the monarchy, therefore, can be seen as the embodiment of the Canadian state is beyond me.
Andy Lehrer, Canada

Three examples of how getting rid of the monarchy would be dangerous: The Romanians abolished theirs and got Ceaucescu, The Russians killed theirs and got Stalin, The Germans got rid of theirs and ended up with the worst of them all - Hitler, all within a generation.
Steve King, Japan

Tony Blair criticises the "forces of conservatism" in all areas of public service. Why not the Royal Family? I also hope to see the first President of the United Kingdom in my lifetime.
Jonathan Lunt, South East, England

I would like to point out that the monarchy is by far the cheapest form of state representation. Look at the president in France and compare that to the Queen of Denmark. The personal problems of the British royals are mild when compared to those of President Clinton.
Jochem Riesthuis, The Netherlands

Prince Charles may be the most expensive anti-GM food advocate and naturopathy lobbyist in the world. Are Britons getting their money's worth?
David Lian, Australia

How can Australians assume that the present system protects them from corrupt politicians? Many monarchies have and will be corrupt. What they should be concerned about is loss of freedom of choice. I guess they want freedom FROM choice. An underlying assumption of this discourse is a monarchy would provide some sort of moral compass and a basis of stability. Rubbish. Monarchists do not have a monopoly on this trait.
Michael Brunson, Carlsbad, California

The time for monarchs is over. In Nigeria, they are respected but one can not run away from the part they played during the Abacha regime. Most of them acted disgracefully except for one or two who were able to maintain their integrity. The others acted as Abacha's mouthpiece.
Ovierume Dafe, Nigeria

However democratic an election may be, the person being elected has actively wanted to be elected. A person who wants to become the symbolic leader of a nation is by definition not suited for the job. It's such an irrational job; give it to someone who never had a choice. Someone who knows from childhood, through puberty and the formative years, that he (or she) is destined to be nothing less, or more, than a symbol. Such a person will have a lifetime of preparing for the part, poor fellow.
Hans Westin, Leeuwarden, the Netherlands

The problem with the currently proposed Australian republic is that it would combine the functions of the executive, the legislature, and the judiciary, under one person - the prime minister. This normally only happens in dictatorships!
Tony Cooper, Australia

People who cite the importance of tradition are merely protecting their own privilege. In this country slavery and the political subjugation of women were "traditions" which have fortunately gone by the boards. Don't cloak your self-interest in sentimental slop about tradition.
Cass Brayton

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Your comments during the programme:

The monarchy is irrelevant because Australia was founded on egalitarian principles. It's a symbolic change to have a president rather than a monarchy.
Ali Farouque, Australia

The governor-general can represent the people. There's been no attempt at reform over that position. He's the head of state in Australia. The defence of a democracy needs unelected figures such as judges. The constitutional monarchists say that we also need a non-politician in the executive with reserve powers to act.
Nigel Greenwood comments

The Queen is head of state by birthright, and the royal family are part of our constitutional set up. They serve as an apolitical body and can speak out without an agenda.
Mike Thomas, UK

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Australia has such strong ties with the UK. I can't understand why it wants to change. Why change the governor-general for a president. We're rushing into everything and our history, which all came from the UK, I don't want to see disappearing.
Tim May, Sydney, Australia

The monarchy goes right to the root of British society. In Britain your ancestry defines your identity rather than what you know or can do. Anyone can aspire to be a president but someone shouldn't be there simply because they were born into that position.
Paul Stancer, Hong Kong/UK

Britain needs a monarchy because it gives a sense of tradition, stability and of times past. People in America see the monarchy as representative of Britain. The world is losing its symbols and becoming more monotonous.
Dave Adams, St Louis, USA

In Britain we've just abolished the hereditary peerage. The Brits don't care about a relationship with Australia. We joined the European Union and act in our own interests. Britain also has a tradition of republicanism, since the time of Cromwell and the Magna Carta. The position of head of state should not be based on birth.
Professor Stephen Haseler comments

Monarchy has no legitimacy from the village level upwards. It is non-functional. I don't understand how a modern democracy can be based on birthright and the outdated idea of divine right. It is against all modern values of democracy. Politicians have power vested in them by the people. This is not the case for monarchies.
Tridiv, Dortmund, Germany/India

Constitutional monarchy appears to work extremely well in Europe. Democracies don't really work that well.
Mikko Toivanen, Indonesia/ Finland

The monarchy is a useful counterbalance to an overbearing government. If there is an unrepresentative or even despotic government the royal family can provide a symbolic figurehead saying no this isn't right. Republicans want to kick away the old institutions but don't have anything better to put in its place.
Henry Dodds, UK

It's a slander to say that stable, relatively free societies like US, France and Germany need monarchies.
Professor Stephen Haseler comments

The monarchies in Africa are absolute power which are subject to abuse. In the presence of a King you have to walk in on your hands and knees. You don't necessarily need a monarchy to keep your traditions alive.
Brian Samuel, Harare, Zimbabwe

The Danish monarchy has been working well for 150 years so why change it now?
Jacob Koch, Aarauf, Denmark

I have allegiances with three royal families by place of birth, marriage and origin. The wealthiest people in Denmark have very close connections with the Danish royal family and so they are quite political.
John van der Meer, Australia/ Denmark/ Holland

The baby-boomers tend to be republicans living in the 60s and post-colonial angst. People of my age, in their 30s, are more concerned with accountability of government and civil liberties.
Nigel Greenwood comments

The key issue is whether Australia should be a republic. The monarchy are neither neutral nor above politics. They exercise their power publicly and more problematically, privately.
Professor Stephen Haseler comments

Romania has been a republic for 52 years and now between three and five million people want the monarchy back. The king was forced to abdicate in 1947 by the communists.
Bogdan Tudorache, Bucharest, Romania

If Edward had become King of England how would Britain have reacted? The man is now known to have been pro-Nazi.
Peter Adamson, Adelaide, Australia

We've enjoyed stable government for the last 100 years. That's millions of people have fled oppression in republics.
Jeannette Simms, Sydney, Australia

The monarchy is supported by nearly 90% of the people in Sweden. In Britain it attracts tourism.
Roger Lundgren, Sweden

Why do we have a fairy tale vision of the royal family. They have enormous wealth and do nothing for the country except obtain vast amounts of money to fund their extravagant lifestyle. I don't see what they've got to offer this country.
Paul Myatt, East Sussex, UK

The largest number of immigrants to come to Australia since the second world war were British. Were they fleeing from something other than the weather? The monarchists are a small group who have managed to enlist loonies using slogans such as "If it ain't broke, don't fix it". But you also get rid of something when you don't need it or when it becomes irrelevant.
Brian MacKinley, Australia

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Your comments before we went ON AIR:

Living in the USA, we take people for what they have done. Not for them being born a certain blood. You should have done what the French did and hung them all
John Arnott, USA

I really don't care for any monarchs from any country. I do not believe in anybody's so called status as a king or queen. That's backward thinking. Only the elected leaders under the constitution are relevant to me. If queen of England visit's India I really don't care. In fact it's true of majority Indians except the government, since it has to put on a diplomatic face. Why should I consider some other human being as my king or queen?
Shreyas Phatak, USA/India

There is no room for a society based on an archaic feudal system, paid for by enforced taxation
M. Murray, USA (English citizen)

The idea of a totally anachronistic institution like the monarchy surviving into the next century should be an affront to all democrats. It has no place in a modern society
Paul, UK

I have seen very few comments from: The Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and other constitutional monarchies, about how they view their head of state. Why keep focussing on the UK?
Simon , England

Anything with roots in the past is needed for the future.
Mark Beudert, USA

Why pay monarchs hard earned tax payers money? Tax payers money is no body's birth right. That should be used for a good cause. Supporting the monarchy is a form of discriminating ordinary people.
SK, USA

Unfortunately the no campaign, thus far has been preying on peoples fears that the proposed system will be unstable. They have not really sought to tackle the issue at hand; that is that the vast majority of Australians find the monarchy to be entirely irrelevant. Australia is a nation of astonishing cultural diversity and it is among the most multicultural in the world. To most Australians the British monarchy and the United Kingdom for that matter are no relevance. The vast majority of Australia's nearly 20 million people also refuse to suggest that their head of state, although only symbolic, is determined by birth.

This nation which is entrenched in equality also refuses to believe that its head of state cannot be Jewish, Roman Catholic or Muslim. It also refuses to accept the entrenched sexism that essentially forms any monarchy; that is that male heirs take precedent over female one. But foremost Australians refuse to accept that one of their own cannot be their head of state. However if the referendum fails, it will not be because Australians have no connection with the monarchy; it will be because they do not like the proposed way in which a president is elected. It will also be due to the deceitful tactics of the no supporters.
David, Australia

As a student of politics, I have noted the advantages and disadvantages of a parliamentary system. In the absence of a written constitution or charter of some sort, there is nothing to prevent the Prime Minister, who by definition can pass any law he wants, from becoming a dictator. In such a case, a monarchy and/or a hereditary aristocracy can provide the level of restraint necessary to counterbalance the tendency of a political leader to view his own personal desires as those of the nation. Also, in these ideology ridden times, it is a blessing for there to be a symbol of the nation that is above political hysteria.
Roland Mar, USA

Monarchies are for the olden days. Of what use is a royal family in a country with strong democratic traditions?
Ponna Tharma-Ratnam, Canada

At the moment, the monarchy is just causing scandal and a bad reputation. I don't see why we need them as we have a Government how can represent us in world affairs. Therefore, there is no need for the monarchy in today's society. (Which I think is the view of many young people.) The amount of resources that are given to them could be used for the homeless, the starving, people with additions and hospitals. (At home and abroad.) They drain our countries money.
Lucy Fuller, England

If you compare the quality and performance of post-war USA Presidents with that of the two British monarchs I would say that an hereditary head of state wins every time.
John Arrowsmith, Jersey

Monarchies are the vestigial remains of the brutal feudal system and should be abolished forthwith. I would far rather my hard-earned taxes went to the NHS/Schools/the needy than to a bunch of inbred, overprivileged aristocrats. The fact that someone's ancestors had sufficient military and monetary might to overcome their enemies does not entitle them to a life of luxury or make them a valid representative of a country. I do recognise that many of the royal family work hard - but many of us do that and receive far less reward. Being good at what you do doesn't necessarily mean that what you do isn't redundant - as many people in this country know only too well.
Kirsty Hearn, UK

We don't need a subsidised, unelected and unaccountable family to set morals or act as figureheads as we end this century. Privatise them, and sell them off to the Americans!
Adrian Gourlay, England

Monarchies offer continuity in otherwise ever changing world. You only have to look at the political infighting in those states where the head of state is a politician. The historic link between monarchies, their state, and most of all their people is to important to throw away for the sake of excess democracy. As De Toqueville warned, beware the tyranny of the majority.
Nick Jacobs, UK

Why? Who needs a monarchy, what's the point. As the Royals in Britain have shown they are only an embarrassment to their people and they serve no true purpose
Steven Minogue, Ireland

I agree with Dave Locke, this argument should have been started 100 years ago. Not only the ridiculous notion that birthright equates to a divine right to rule riles me, but the taxpayer's money given to fund their junketing and opulent lifestyle is a smack in the face for those out of work, waiting on some hospital list or trying to stop big-business destroying our environment. By all means let them retain their figurehead status in the UK (you brits will never make republicans) but stop funding these richest of the rich!
John McCabe, The Netherlands

No! The monarchy is completely irrelevant, just like that other public service dinosaur, the BBC (otherwise known as the Blair Broadcasting Corp.). National symbols will have no place in the coming century, which promises to be one entirely devoted to the introspective musings of isolated individuals seeking meaning within the grey monotony of a technocratic world. I, for one, am looking forward to it!
Leighton Arnold, USA

Monarchs are the dictators of the world. They are a family (most of them are relatives between them). Some of them may be good, but how can we guarantee that a nation will not be led by a psychopath just because he is the first son of a family. As far as concerns Greece the former King had nothing to do with Greece (in fact he was German) and he like his forebears are to blame for the greatest disasters of Greece and especially for the Minor Asia disaster of Greeks.
Defkalion Tsagarakis, Greece

I think Prince William, when he becomes king, will bring change and modernisation to the monarchy. He will give it youth and vitality which it has lacked for so long. He reign will be the one for the 21st Century.
James Martin, USA

Let's just crush all monarchies, all they do is just sit in a castle. The people are the ones who pay for them to live like they do and what do we get in return - nothing.
Erika, Netherlands

Quite amazing: we're aggressively exporting democracy all over the world (whether it fits or not) and still have states where official head of state is some degenerated and mostly ignorant descendent who has never acquired any substantive knowledge about management in a fast changing social and technological environment and who receives tax payers' money while health and education funds are too short.
Let's face it: the only real value of today's monarchies is tourist value and tourists would still flock irrespective of whether it's the palace of the acting or of the former king/queen (see France). Any relic aristocracies will slow down urgently required rejuvenation of society and have no place in the 21st century.
M. von Bock, UK

Irrelevant. Expensive. Inbred. The best way to start the new millennium would be to abolish them for good. It's shameful that in this modern era that the fight for equality of ALL people is undermined by the sycophantic grovelling and tugging of forelocks to this outdated "institution". Germany/Greece - please have them back!
Vernon Bigg, UK

The question should be, Does the Monarchy work? Whether you like it or not the answer seems to be yes. No corruption, promotes stability, relatively cheap, no cronyism, and instils a sense of history. While the overly politically correct can find many tired reasons to abolish them, they work pretty damn well. I wish we had some.
Mark Parish, United States

No democracy should have an unelected head of state. I'm astounded that in the late 20th century some people still believe in the divine right of kings - it makes as much sense as believing that the world is flat. The cost of maintaining the royal family is vast. But royalists insist that the royal family are worth it because of they generate plenty of tourist revenue. Well, France hasn't had a royal family for 200 years, but the Palace of Versailles still attracts several times as many visitors as Buckingham Palace. Surely therefore, we could maximise the tourism potential of the royal family by evicting them from their many palaces and stately homes, and giving better access to paying visitors?
Paul Hicks, UK

To say the monarchy is relevant is one thing, but to have a foreign monarch as head of state?! Be serious! Would the British ever allow a German family to be Monarch? Oh, no, we've already got one of those haven't we?
Andrew, Belgium

Absolutely yes! Being born to the responsibility, and not having to worry about elections permits a Monarch to represent the country withour fear or favour. Restoring much of the power to the Monarch would provide far better governance in the 21st century than any republican system
John Atkins, UK

How depressing that the majority of voters are sheep. What is the use of Royalty except to reinforce an outdated and repressive social order? I hope the Australians do the sensible thing and stop looking backwards and grasp their future without a load of inbred ninnies strutting around at all their important events.
G Jones, France

The question should be, have monarchies ever been relevant at all in any century - except to their over-privileged selves?
Myra, USA

I hope I live to see the first president of the Republic of Britain sworn in.
John B, UK

The British monarchy may be of some relevance to the British but only about 5 percent of the people here in Australia want to keep them as our head of state for their practical value. However because there is conflict regarding the best model republic to support, King Charles III may yet be our next head of state.
Bill Rowlands, Australia

It seems that there is no real power left in any of the monarchies, in fact the concept even as a figurehead seems dated and old-fashioned. In the world today the industrialists are the royalty. The 21st century will likely find the technology sector as the defacto rulers.
Ed Mumford, USA

I wish Britain would stop being so backward looking and drag itself out of the last century where it ruled a large chunk of the planet. It isn't going to happen again. All the monarchy seems to do nowadays is embarrass themselves and the UK in general. The argument that the monarchy is good for trade etc., does not stand up to the idea that someone is deemed 'better' than another because they were born a royal. The British monarchy is an anachronism and should be abolished.
Steve, UK

Whilst I am not directly "against" the British monarchy, I really see very little point for it to remain, other than for heritage and tradition, neither of which are good enough reasons.
Simon Jones, England

For countries like the UK, why not have an elected "monarch" - who doesn't have to be "queen" or "king" but some ancient title. And if the present queen wants to stand for election then so be it. In Scotland there is talk of Anne taking on a role - let her stand for election like everyone else!
Robert Millar, USA

The Royals are living monuments of this country's 2000 year old history.
Paul Midgley, England

Monarchy is not even relevant for the 20th century, let alone the 21st. Either a monarch is intrinsically more able to be a head of state than anyone else by their birth (hardly a very democratic position to hold) or they are not (in which case the population can find someone better by a democratic vote.) It makes no sense either way.
Dave Lock, UK

When Prince Charles boycotted the Chinese over human rights he signalled that the monarch is alive and well and worth its weight in gold. The Monarchy is able to give views not acceptable to politicians, including Presidents. Furthermore, the monarch can heal wounds between countries; where it is unacceptable to send politicians, the monarch are often able to step in smooth relations. Long live the monarchy!
Keith Tomlins, UK

The Royal Family promotes patriotism. Something we lack as a nation.
Elizabeth Thomas, USA

I would advise all Monarch states to hold on with their system, provided the system does not affect peace, economy, etc.
Deogratias Melkior, Tanzania

I have often believed that the real difference between a monarch and a dictator like Pinochet, Francisco Franco, or Joseph Stalin is that their status in the world depended on how much they were liked rather than feared. A monarch who sits around his inheritance, vis a vis, his palace and golden carriage, does not deserve the support of his people. Humanity has shown time and time again that in a time of crisis, people follow those who provide genuine leadership as opposed to those who were bred to lead. And in an ever-changing world, a monarch should be the first person to arrive wherever hope seems to be vanishing before his public relations spokesperson can schedule an appearance.
Martin, USA

The monarchy is the best choice of Britain as its premier. We've tried the presidential side of things and dumped it after 5 years. Presidents and premiers come and go and Britain needs a rock solid, national, not political figure head. The monarchy is the best way to achieve it. The rightfully democratic process and the hereditary monarch are not mutually exclusive. Having a leader that is not tied into the political spectrum can only be good.
Peter Brophy, USA (UK ex pat)

Not too many years ago, monarchies were brutal affairs. Royal families are little more than gangsters that won consistently over time. At this point they seem to be national curiosities that can be of some positive value, like a mascot or trademark, and a spiritual link to a nations history. Personally, I have difficulty seeing how any sane Australian would want to stay under the crown. The British penal colonies would make an ugly trade mark. In England there is at least a positive spin to it!
Conder Seasholtz, USA

It is about time the reactionary institution is abolished. What good is it to have a monarchy, which serves only the rainbow press for their headlines? Rather have a serious and voted head of state to represent the people in a proper and in most of the cases a little more intelligent way. Let's say good bye to the monarchs of this world.
Joachim Heineke, Russia

The only people who find monarchies useful are the writers and photographers of Paris Match, Hello and so on.
CF, Canada

You have choices, Queen BenazirI or King NawazI. We will love to get rid of them.
Jugnu Khan, Pakistan

That we pay for Prince Philip to go around living the life of riley and insulting anyone who's not like him, illustrates for me the pointlessness of the monarchy. Politicians and celebrities have eclipsed them so completely in the power stakes that there really is no position of value left open for them. I say it is time for them to go, though I would rather see them gently phased out than chucked out of their palaces a la French revolution. Except Prince Philip, he should be condemned to a life time on social security!
Wendy , London, England

I don't really have any objection to having a monarchy in the UK. The Queen may be the head of the country, but she makes little difference to the political situation. We have the House of Commons and the (reformed) House of Lords to determine politics. I think a presidential character wields too much power for one individual.
Colin, Netherlands

I can't see any relevance for having any individual or family exulted above the rest of us, based on birth, tradition or identity. There are many things which define a country both good and bad. We vote for who runs our country and can vote them out again.

To have an elite, privileged class serves no good purpose but to satisfy those who are hungry for history they don't have or for times long gone (as in Britain), it's only other main purpose is to alienate and underline class divides that people of both "working" and "upper" classes are guilty of holding on to for dear life.
Chris C, UK

Monarchy was good a couple of centuries back, even then, monarchs were more dictators. As for now, we don't need a monarch. The Democratic system is strong enough
Sam Lucic, Manchester,UK

The monarchy is as relevant as we make it. In Britain we use the Royals as a national figurehead and marketing tool. In the Netherlands they use their Queen for a great national holiday. In most of the rest of Europe monarchies are totally irrelevant. Not all monarchies are hereditary though - in the US the President is an elected king-in-parliament and the first family are treated every bit as Royals.
Paul, UK

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Are monarchies relevant in the 21st Century?:

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Yes: <% =percentyes %>% No: <% =percentno %>%

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Tridiv from Germany
Tridiv's comment
Brian Samuel from Zimbabwe
Brian Samuel from Zimbabwe: "I'm a great believer in the UK monarchy"
Mike Thomas reports for BBC News
Mike Thomas, UK: "The Royal Family exists purely as a constitutional monarchy"
Roger Lungdren, Sweden
Roger Lungdren, Sweden: "In my country people can meet the monarch in the grocery store"
See also:

27 Oct 99 | Asia-Pacific
15 Oct 99 | From Our Own Correspondent
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