Why Monarchies Still Reign

Issue Date April 2023
Volume 34
Issue 2
Page Numbers 47–61
file Print
arrow-down-thin Download from Project MUSE
external View Citation

Read the full essay here.

Is political opposition in monarchies different than in other types of autocracies? This article shows that monarchies are no less vulnerable to regime change than any other authoritarian regime—they fall via coups, collapse during war, and transform into democracies—but they are less likely than other types of autocracies to be overthrown by revolutionary protest. This reduced threat from the street arises from a unique institutional feature: Monarchies can democratize without destabilizing the leadership through transitioning to a democratic constitutional monarchy. The prospect of retaining the ruler appeals to opposition groups who value both democracy and stability, but it also has implications for their ability to organize and sustain mass protest. Monarchies have been extraordinarily common throughout history; investigating how monarchies transition is important for understanding the trajectories of modern states.

About the Author

Adria Lawrence is the Aronson Associate Professor of International Affairs and Political Science at Johns Hopkins University. She is the author of Imperial Rule and the Politics of Nationalism: Anti-Colonial Protest in the French Empire (2013).

View all work by Adria Lawrence