A friend recently mentioned his growing sympathy for monarchy as a source of stability and unity in a chaotic and disunited world. He has in mind a specific king in a specific country, so this may be the problem on hand: monarchy (in the traditional European sense) = lottery, with potentially disastrous results.

Ultimately, a monarchical system ends up being a strange combination of individual and institutional realities that should coincide. I think it has worked well for a number of countries (I find the current King of Spain a sympathetic figure, and I enjoyed discovering that the King of the Netherlands has a side-job as a KLM pilot), but it is increasingly a fragile system. Perhaps this pressure on royal families is a good thing to keep them in check and aware that their precarious situation calls for excellence and integrity.

I had the pleasure of meeting HM King Abdullah II of Jordan and receive an award from his hands in 2006; his job is one I do not envy, and it seems hard to conceive of stable democracies in some of these troubled parts of the world.

As a fan of JRR Tolkien, I see the longing for the Return of the King (Aragorn in the Lord of the Rings) as a deep and archetypal longing for the parousia of the True King of the Ages, and so this is where I hang my monarchical hat, lest I be disappointed by doomed-to-disappoint human leadership.