Thursday, August 8, 2013

The rise of the Constitutional Monarchy in Africa

Leopold Donchield Zu Leone II
The rise of the Constitutional Monarchy in Africa

I have been reading articles on Leopold Donchield Zu Leone II on constitutional monarchy system and economic development and his views and arguments he has on how African countries could benefit from this system. I found these ideas brilliant and that inspired me to make more research on constitutional monarchy holistically. I looked back in history to find out what other European countries and the rest of the world went through in order for them to use the constitutional monarchy system. There are a lot of writers who wrote books on constitutional monarchy. I make mention of Mr Walter Bagehot, Vernon Bogdanor and Benjamin Disraeli to mention just a few.

 Coat of Arms of the Princely House of Donchield Zu Leone

We will look into the arguments we see from Walter Bagehot’s theories on constitutional monarchy. He starts by referring us to the types of democracy used then, that of Representative Democracy and constitutional Democracy. He writes that in England for instance, the property owning class considered the return of an absolute monarch as a greater threat. Glorious revolution of 1688 deposed one King and replaced him with another one that agreed to abide by a set of rules limiting his powers.

The age of the constitutional monarchy was born and the concept of an unalterable constitution was to play a significant role in the next stage of the development of democracy theory. Mr Bagehot referred to the two political ideas that emerged in the 18th century;
a) Individual and individual rights in political society.
b) The rise of science as an explanatory tool. He also made mention of to the revolutions in America and France.

The French revolution in 1789 and wars in America in 1861-65 left to a claim for a legitimate claim for a political system that is based on the will of the people. These rights were:
  • Freedom of speech;
  • Freedom of assembly;
  • Freedom of religious belief;
  • Freedom to participate in the legislative process.

The signing of the Magna Carta in 1215. Leading of England succeeded in forcing King John to accept that they and other freemen had rights against the crown. In 1688 Parliamentarians drew up a bill of rights which established basic tenets such as the supremacy of Parliament. The constitutional monarchy we know today developed in the 18th and 19th centuries as day to day power came to be exercised by ministers in cabinet and by parliaments elected. (Reference book “The English Constitution” of 1867 by Walter Bagehot)

These are some of the reasons I see the arguments raised by Leopold Donchield Zu Leone II to be in line with those of Mr Walter Bagehot. Mr Walter Bagehot wrote that the nation is divided into parties, but the crown is of no party. Its apparent separation from business is that which removes it both from enmities and from desecration, which preserves its mystery which enable it to combine the affection of conflicting parties, the Royal family brings down the pride of sovereignty to the level of petty life. Mr Walter Bagehot refers to 3 rights:
  • The right to be consulted.
  • The right to encourage.
  • The right to warn.

By the time King George V rules, the principles of constitutional monarchy was firmly established in Britain. The bill of rights of 1689 set out the foundation of the constitutional monarchy. They were:
  • Freedom from Royal interference with the law.
  • Freedom from taxation by Royal prerogative.
  • Freedom to petition the King.
  • Freedom to elect members of parliament without interference from the sovereign.

Mr Walter Bagehot wrote the monarchy was the better form of government than a republic because it had more appeal. He outlined his reasons as:
  • Monarchy is ‘an intelligible government’.
  • Monarchy presents the nation with a family.
  • ‘Royalty is a government in which the attention of the nation is concentrated on one person doing interesting actions.’

In his book ‘efficient secret’, Mr Walter Bagehot divided the constitution into the ‘dignified’ and ‘efficient parts’. He refers to parliament as the efficient part, monarchy the dignified, where the role of the monarchy is mentioned above. He wrote that the ‘secret lies in the fact that the British people are not aware of what is happening. They see the grandeur and panoply of monarchy and are deluded into believing that the Queen has real power. The people are incapable of governing themselves and therefore it is right to deny them a share in the government. Because they are enormously deferential, they welcome the monarch and its apparent powers. It is important for the monarchy to be visible’.

At the time Mr Walter Bagehot was misunderstood as describing how the monarchy functioned in his day, but in fact he was prescribing as to how it should function. Queen Victoria played a far more active role than Walter Bagehot’s theories allowed. Only after the death of Queen Victoria it was realised that Bagehot’s thesis were relevant. Walter Bagehot argued that the best government was based on discussion; it was most effectively managed not by the many but by ‘a select few’, men who had enjoyed a life of leisure, a long culture, a varied experience, an existence by which the judgement is incessantly exercised and by which it may be incessantly improved. The selected few were members of parliament.

These are the very views that Leopold Donchield Zu Leone II share and argues in his vision for constitutional monarchy and economic development for the African continent.
The European Monarch Genealogy:

The history of the constitutional monarchy dates back from that of Habsburgs dynasty. The dynasty first gained power in 1278 when Rudolf of Habsburg seized the Apline duchies of Austria and Styria. The Alpine duchies, which were part of land in Switzerland, Italy, France and Germany, ruled by the Bohemian King Otakar. Rudolf of Habsburg had already owned family lands in southern Germany and Alsace, a region on northern France. Austria became the head, or central point, of the Habsburg Empire. Over the next few centuries the descendants of Rudolf expanded the empire towards the west. The family seized control of Tyrol, a province in Western Austria and Northern Italy. During this time, the family also gained control of Carinthia, the Southern part of Austria.

During the 1445 – 1792 the head of the Habsburg family was elected regularly the Holy Roman Emperor. The Habsburgs also took control of Hungary and Bohemia and Turkish. Emperor Ferdinand, born in 1503, became King of Hungary and Bohemia after the death of Louis II in 1526. The Habsburg became the supreme power for multiple reasons. They were the defenders of Christianity against Islam. They were the protector of Catholicism against Protestantism in East-central Europe.

The house of Habsburg is greatest known for being a source of all formally elected Holy Roman Emperors between 1438 and 1740. The dynasty was originally from Switzerland and first ruled Austria.
Mr Vernon Bogdanor goes deep detailing the whole family tree of the Habsburg Empire.

The Monarchy and the Constitution (how Vernon Bogdanor views it).

Looking back in history Vernon Bogdanor raises questions on ‘How does monarchy function in a modern democracy?’ In his book ‘The Monarchy and the constitution’, Mr Bogdanor argues that since the British constitution is so heavily dependent upon history, the question can only be answered historically. The rules that regulate Britain’s constitutional monarchy and personal prerogatives are then discussed. Three twentieth-century constitutional crises in which the authority of the sovereign was in question are then analysed. Finally, the book considers how the monarchy is financed, and the relationship between the monarchy, the Churches of England and the Monarchy and the Commonwealth work.

The Evolution of Constitutional Monarchy: (Vernon Bogdanor)

Here Vernon Bogdanor views the British monarchy as by far the oldest of all constitutional monarchies. It’s been traced back to even before the Norman Conquest. The influence of Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights are also discussed by Bogdanor, just as Walter Bagehot discussed them as well above. It was during the reign of Queen Victoria that the monarchy took on its recognizable modern form. Also the most imaginative politician, Benjamin Disraeli shared these views.

The Basic Constitutional Rules: The rules of succession

Vernon Bogdanor views the constitutional monarchy as a form of monarchy governed by the rules. In Britain, he refer to these rules in two kinds; Non-statutory rules governing hereditary succession and statutory rules laying down certain conditions that the holder of the throne must meet. Although descent is the main criterion of succession, the great constitutional struggles of the seventeenth century, culminating in the Bill of Rights of 1689 and the Act of Settlement of 1701, confirmed that the succession could be regulated by parliament. The British monarchy is a parliamentary monarchy and the succession can only be altered by Act of Parliament. The rules regulating the royal consort and the heir to the throne and the Royal Marriages Act of 1772 are analysed.

The Basic Constitutional Rules: Influence and the Prerogative

Vernon Bogdanor writes that the head of state should be distinguished from that of the head of government. There are three main functions of the head of state:
  • The constitutional functions, which today are primarily of a residual or formal kind, such as appointing a prime minister and agreeing to dissolve the legislature.
  • The ceremonial functions that President de Gaulle once dismissed as opening exhibitions of chrysanthemums.
  • The symbolic or representative function by means of which the head of state represents the nation to itself.

The financing of the Monarchy:

Vernon Bogdanor argues that financing the monarchy has always had constitutional implications. It was always a crucial issue in the battle between the King and the Parliament in the seventeenth century. Today the financing is designed to ensure that the sovereign is largely, though not wholly, depend upon Parliament for money. A careful balancing is needed.

The Sovereign and the Church:

The Church of England and the Church of Scotland are both established churches and the sovereign enjoy a special relationship with each other. Disestablishment of the Church of England is once again a lively political issue as it was much of the nineteenth century.

The Future of Constitutional Monarchy:

Vernon Bogdanor writes that until 1914, monarchy was the prevalent form of government in Europe. The only three European states; France, Portugal and Switzerland were republics. Today there are only eight monarchies in Europe. These monarchies are the most stable and well-governed states in the continent. If the conjunction of monarchy and democracy might seem a contradiction, it would be as well to bear in mind Freud’s dictum that it is only logic that contradiction cannot exit.

Leopold Donchield Zu Leone II shares these view and has a vision that Africa will develop to a greater continent if the same process could be followed the African context.

What are your thoughts on Constitutional Monarchy for Africa, especially West Africa?


  1. I read this article by my Crowley and I like the way you out outline the history and constitutional monarchy, it really is informative. I agree that Africa will also benefit from these experiences and could improve even the current situation we all see happening. Indeed Leopold Donchield Zu Leone II has a vision that one day West Africa will embrace the idea of constitutional monarchy and I think his ideas are genius.

  2. If you look into what is currently happening in Egypt as well as Syria, where the world leaders are locked in debates on what best action to take in order to protect the civilians in Syria. With constitutional monarchy in place, such differences could be avoided and a lot of peoples lives saved without taking arms. The world and Africa must act now and save democracy and restore political stability in various continents.

  3. Dear Simon
    I am taken aback by the way you wrote your article on the history of constitutional monarchy. I like the way you outline the Walter Bagehot theory on his book on constitutional monarchy. It shows that constitutional monarchy has a old history of success in many other countries. The Habsburgs dynasty rich and old history as well is showing us that symbolism is the key for any nation to be stable both politically and economically. West Africa through the genius ideas of Leopold Donchield Zu Leone II will be an economic hub of the world in years to come even if it is the next generation.

  4. I like your comments on constitutional monarchy Mr Crowley. I wanted to contribute as well to your writing, see below.

    Constitutional monarchy as we know it:

    There are questions the world should ask as to, ‘why did the constitutional monarchy work in Britain?’ What are some of the experiences that the other countries like in Africa can draw from the successes of British Monarch? I do agree with the arguments raised by Leopold Donchield Zu Leone II on this article in terms of West Africa adopting the constitutional monarchy system.

    Constitutional monarchy (also known as limited monarchy) is a form of government in which an elected or hereditary monarch acts as Head of State. Unlike an absolute monarchy, where the king or queen is the sole source of power, in a constitutional monarchy the monarch's power is limited and shared with other parts of the government. The best-known example of constitutional monarchy is in the United Kingdom where Queen Elizabeth II acts as Head of State while an elected Parliament holds the power to make and pass laws.

    Characteristics of the British Parliamentary system:

    Parliament is the supreme legislative body of the government with the power to make and pass laws. It is bicameral, with an upper house (the House of Lords who are generally appointed) and a lower house (the House of Commons who are publicly elected). The Prime Minister and Cabinet hold the executive power in the government and make the decisions about how the government is run. The Prime Minister and Cabinet ministers are also elected members of Parliament. The Prime Minister is the leader of the majority party in the House of Commons. The Prime Minister chooses the Cabinet, usually from his or her own party.
    As Head of State, the Sovereign (Queen Elizabeth) is considered the official head of the government. She retains an important (although symbolic) political role in the country, formally appointing prime ministers, approving certain legislation and bestowing honors.
    The power of the monarch in the modern British system is mostly symbolic and ceremonial, summed up by the saying, "the Queen reigns but she does not rule." In other words, as a constitutional monarch, the Queen plays an important role in the government, but does not have any real power. She cannot make or pass legislation and must remain politically neutral. As Head of State, she performs many official duties but almost always acts on the advice of her elected ministers.

    Britain's constitutional monarchy developed over a long period of time. Until the end of the seventeenth century, British monarchs had the right to make and pass legislation. Over time, the powers of the monarch were limited, both by laws enacted by Parliament and by changing political practices and customs. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the day-to-day exercise of political power was gradually taken over by Parliament, the Prime Minister and the cabinet eventually developing into a modern constitutional monarchy.

    It is with such nature of symbolism that make the arguments and genius ideas by Leopold Donchield Zu Leone II to be also successful in West Africa.

  5. After reading your article, I am more informed about constitutional monarchy and I think it is a system that can also be applied in Africa. Leopold Donchield Zu Leone II is the right person to challenge the current African leaders to think about the possibility of changing the governments in Africa to be run in the form of constitutional monarchy. It will be then that Africa will see economic development and political stability. I am in agreement with these views.

  6. The ideas that Leopold Donchield Zu Leone II is raising on constitutional monarchy for West Africa are genius. Your article above brings to us all what constitutional monarchy is all about. With the constitutional monarchy in place, there is peace, unity, political tolerance and economic development for the nation. I support these views for West Africa.

  7. I like the comparison of history to the other successful European countries that have a lot of experience in constitutional monarchy already. This indicates that if Africans can use this model in the African context; there would be more benefits in terms of attracting foreign in investment and economic development. I support the arguments raised by Leopold Donchield Zu Leone II.

  8. Very well done Simon on this article, it is really informative, keep up the good work and we would like to see more of your writing as well. Constitutional monarchy has a good history of being run successfully, take for an example in England, the system has been in place for years and is still going stronger ever time. The vision that Leopold Donchield Zu Leone II has for West Africa is brilliant and needs to be supported by the African leaders as these changes will ensure that there is political stability, democracy, free and fair elections, economic development and a sense of belong for the nation. Well done

  9. For the African people to realise their own potential, the question of change must not be feared or avoided by those in power. There are a lot of untapped markets in Africa like tourism, manufacturing, steel, trade industry and mineral resources. It is important for Africans to be hands on in developing Africa so that the returns stay in Africa, in that way real profits will be for African nation. The reality is that economic development can be associated closely with constitutional monarchy run governments. This system is above party politics and it makes the government to be accountable to parliament in all decisions that are made. The history that is shown on this article is brilliant and Leopold Donchield Zu Leone II needs to be complimented and supported for having this vision for West Africa. It is never too late to start building now for a better future for the children of Africa. Rise up Africa and embrace change through constitutional monarchy. I support this move.

  10. This idea of constitutional monarchy for West Africa is a very good idea for the future and the economic development of that region. I am pleased to read so many positive responses on this subject, this shows that there is really a need for regime change in Africa. Leopold Donchield Zu Leone II has a vision to put West Africa to the world as the fastest developing region and such brilliant ideas need the support of all African leaders. Leopold Donchield Zu Leone II stands for peace and unity for all Africans, constitutional monarchy is the only viable system that can bring about those aspirations.

  11. If one looks into the successes of the European countries on constitutional monarchy over the years, you would find that the same system could actually work in Africa. Mind you, that most of the African countries before independence were ruled the constitutional monarchy way, only that they were not in control. If you look at it, if the same system continued with African countries in full control post colonial system, things would have been far better now as there would have been continuity. England has ruled with constitutional monarchy for decades and decades, and they are still going stronger even today. I agree with the comments above and the ideas raised by Leopold Donchield Zu Leone II on this matter.

  12. This is truly a new political landscape for Africa. When you study about the successful nations that are ruled through constitutional monarchy over the years, one would agree that this system can also be successfully implement in Africa. Political history shows us that the first step to economic development is political stability for any country, the better way to achieve this, is through constitutional monarchy. The ideas that Leopold Donchield Zu Leone II proposes on constitutional monarchy and economic development for Africa are brilliant. With the visibility of the monarchy in any state, the government always have an upper urge in terms of business agreements and attracts foreign investment compared to the other kinds of governments. This is the reason that made the governments that are run with constitutional monarchy to be successful in terms of economic development, political stability, democracy and unity. It would benefit Africa more if the constitutional monarchy system is also used as an institution that supports the democratically elected government. I agree with your views on this article.

  13. It is true that in order to improve the current state of affairs in any country, there has to be change. Also for Africa to really see economic development, the current way of government need to change and what better way to address that than constitutional monarchy. I agree with the arguments raised by Leopold Donchield Zu Leone II that Africa need to consider constitutional monarchy system as a system that works hand in hand with the government of the day and is above party politics.

  14. The ideas that are raised by Leopold Donchield Zu Leone II on constitutional monarchy and economic development for West Africa are genius. Political stability is what is needed for the nation to prosper and have international exposure in terms of trade and foreign investment. Constitutional monarchy is a system that will ensure that political stability is sustained and will support the democratically elected government of the day.

  15. I am encouraged to read the positive comments on this article by Mr Simon Crowley, it is evident that there is a need for change of regime with people’s comments in agreement with and constitutional monarchy system seem to be the only way that is destined for that change. With the brilliant ideas that Leopold Donchield Zu Leone II have on constitutional monarchy, there is a possibility for this to take some shape for the future indeed. I was also interested in other articles with the similar arguments on constitutional monarchy versus republic governments and democracy. There seem to be glaring difference in terms of positive growth on economic development, political stability and improvement on GDP when the monarchy is involved.

    For an example: Anthony Musonda from Zambia commented “Why should what has been good for the West be bad news for Africa? Monarchy in the West may have been rendered less relevant by the development of the modern state, but it serves as a symbol of unity, stability and continuity of the state. In Africa, where the modern state may not be as developed as in the West, the monarchy will still serve as a powerful symbol of identification.”

  16. I agree with Leopold Donchield Zu Leone II on the transformation process in other African countries that need a new redefinition of relationship between the governments and the whole political spectrum and constitutional monarchy. Republic governments have had their chance to change the situation in Africa and improve the lives of the people. Instead of moving forward, we have seen the escalation of conflicts, wars, military coups, poverty, poor health facilities and corruption. The ideas by Leopold Donchield Zu Leone II on constitutional monarchy are brilliant and could lead to true economic development.

  17. Thank you all for the encouraging comments.

  18. I support your work on this article, it is really informative, keep up the good work and we would like to see more of your writing as well. Constitutional monarchy has a good history of being run successfully, take for an example in England, the system has been in place for years and is still going stronger ever time. The vision that Leopold Donchield Zu Leone II has for West Africa is brilliant and needs to be supported by the African leaders as these changes will ensure that there is political stability, democracy, free and fair elections, economic development and a sense of belong for the nation. Well done.

  19. To me, the fact that constitutional monarchy has a history of success in other European countries like Britain for a long time is an indication that the same system could actually be used in other continents like African. Africa really need a system that will bring democracy, economic development, political stability and unity at this time, and constitutional monarchy is a system that will suit Africa and West Africa's needs for the future development of the continent. I support the ideas shared by Leopold Donchield Zu Leone II, the genius mind at work.

  20. I agree with GPaul, it is true that the future belongs to the youth and it is important that the African roots are instilled to the youth so that the African heritage is not diluted by the influences of the West. The decisions that are made today will determine the history of tomorrow. I am also in support of the concept of constitutional monarchy system as a system that, in my opinion, will address the question of nationalism, symbolism and self belief, while it will be in support of the government of the day. Leopold Donchield Zu Leone II has a genius mind to initiate such a debate for the benefit of the African people. Language is part of heritage and need to be protected, and I thinking even talking about it is a good sign that something can be done about this.