Dr McGrath says that the delusion is that new utopias will rise from the ashes of monarchies. She cites the great French author, Anatole France, who wrote in 1921: “For every monarchy overthrown the sky becomes less brilliant because it loses a star. A republic is ugliness set free.”
Dr. McGrath says that he was undoubtedly affected by the French Revolution during which the King was executed despite a National Assembly vote in favour of a constitutional monarchy to which the King himself had agreed.
As Edmund Burke warned, the French Revolution would lead to a more violent and autocratic state. “The usurpation which, in order to subvert ancient institutions, has destroyed ancient principles, will hold power by arts similar to that by which it has acquired it. When ancient opinions and rules of life are taken away, the loss cannot possibly be estimated. From that moment we have no compass to govern us.” A reign of terror, five republics, two empires, two kingdoms, and a wartime fascist state later, France now has an elected executive presidency which regularly cohabits uneasily with a hostile parliament and hostile ministry. Every few years this leads to street violence and calls for a new regime, perhaps a sixth republic.
Dr. McGrath recalls that timeless warning by Cicero: “Without checks or balances, a monarchy becomes despotism, aristocracy becomes oligarchy, and democracy becomes mob rule and chaos. An ungovernable populace chooses someone bold and unscrupulous, who curries favour with the people by giving them other men’s property.”
The obverse of Cicero’s argument, she says, is that “a monarchy with checks and balances does not become despotic, aristocracy does not become oligarchic, democracy does not become mob rule, and the populace does not become ungovernable.”
She points out that this argument is validated by the experience of the world’s constitutional monarchies, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Japan, Jordan, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand Norway, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. They are, she says, among the most calm and stable countries in the world.