Can Europe Afford Its Monarchs?
LONDON (MainStreet) -- As Great Britain marked Queen Elizabeth II's 60th year on the throne this month and prepares for a grand Diamond Jubilee celebration in London this summer, an austerity-minded Europe ponders its ability to afford just about anything -- including its monarchs.
As the European Union faces a sovereign debt crisis, bailouts of various governments and the potential collapse of its euro currency, there's been plenty of belt tightening throughout the continent. Despite these financial constraints, a dozen European countries still support monarchies. That includes eight nations -- Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the U.K. -- as well as the effective monarchy of Vatican City and the principalities of Andorra, Lichtenstein and Monaco.
|As Great Britain marked Queen Elizabeth II's 60th year on the throne and prepares for a grand Diamond Jubilee celebration, an austerity-minded Europe ponders whether it can afford its monarchs.|
So the quick fix is to kick everyone out of the palaces, fire the help and sell off the crown jewels, right? Not really. In Denmark, Queen Margarethe II draws about 80% support. Between 70% and 80% of the Dutch are just fine with keeping Queen Beatrix on the throne for roughly $52 million a year (not counting security and palace maintenance), according to Belgian political scientist Herman Matthijs, while 80% of Norweigians are just wild about King Harald V.
Part of the popularity stems from heritage and national price, but European monarchy experts also see monarchs as goodwill ambassadors in increasingly diverse nations. While countries give up some of their national identities to the European Union, change personality with the arrival of more immigrants and deal with an increasingly global society, a monarch can inspire national unity and welcome newcomers as citizens.