What do Belgium, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Spain and Sweden have in common? All of these countries are ruled by a monarch. In France, if the monarchy collapsed in 1792, there are still supporters of royalty who actively campaign for its return. It would be “ten thousand” in France, according to Nicolas Fontaine, editor-in-chief of Histoires royales.

The royalists come together in various associations, as numerous as they are divided. All have very different profiles and varied political persuasions. But the royalist milieu is mainly attached to right-wing, conservative, even nationalist values, as is the case, for example, of Action Française.

For monarchists, kings embody arbitration and unity. “The sovereign is the bearer of a millennial history, the history of a family that built France. He is the heir to a past glory”, explains Nicolas Fontaine. However, since 1974 and the candidacy of Bertrand Renouvin with La nouvelle action française (0.17% of the vote), there has been no monarchist candidate in the presidential elections.

The French do not seem nostalgic for the Old Regime. According to a survey carried out by BVA for the Royal Alliance in 2016, only 17% would be in favor of the position of head of state being occupied by a king.

“I noticed that the French feel a certain pride in having cut off the head of their king. But, above all, people are not sufficiently educated about the monarchy. They imagine a very distant period, with a system of privileges” , details the editor of Histoires royales. “But, at the same time, there is also a form of fantasy among some about the monarchy…”

In a troubled political climate, marked by a high rate of abstentionism during major electoral events (28% abstention in the second round of presidential elections, 54% in legislative elections in 2022), the monarchy could seduce some. If the monarchy was reinstated, what would it look like?

The majority of supporters of royalty are for the establishment of a constitutional monarchy on the model of those of Britain and Spain. “The sovereign is the head of state but his powers are limited by the constitution. He appoints a prime minister and the Assembly ratifies all his choices.”

“It is the type of monarchy that best responds to current values. Any other form of monarchy would be considered undemocratic. It is in fact in the countries that are considered to be the most democratic that we find monarchies: with Sweden and Denmark”, argues the editor-in-chief of Histoires royales.

Although the king is not the direct decision-maker, since executive power rests with the prime minister, a certain number of duties fall to him. In particular, it has a representation function. “He must embody the state at major international summits. He must also award the rewards given by the State.”

“By virtue of his cultural heritage, the king also represents the living memory of his country. He is a symbol of durability, unlike the president who is subject to a mandate. Elizabeth II has seen a large number of prime ministers pass through her reign. She was a unifier. In Belgium, when the country suffered serious political crises, the king had the role of moderator.”

If the return of a sovereign at the head of the State would seem to bring a form of stability, it should not be forgotten that important splits cross the French royalist milieu. And, that the sovereigns of Europe often find themselves at the heart of serious scandals…

No consensus has been found around a single candidate for the throne within the royalist associations. Three currents clash: the legitimist branch, the Orléanist branch, but also the imperial branch.

The two most represented currents are those legitimist and Orleanist. For the first, it is the heir to the line of the Bourbons, Luis-Alfonso de Bourbon, known as “Louis XX”, who should regain power. For the second, it is the Count of Paris who should become king: Jean d’Orléans, known as “Jean IV”.

Which of the two kings is more popular? “It’s hard to say. It depends on who has the wind in its sails with the media. Thierry Ardisson is a royalist and supports the branch of the Bourbons, so we heard more about Luis Alfonso for a while. But the more moderate currents follow the Orleanist branch.”

Moreover, the question of a potential court life of monarchs is at the heart of all criticism. The royal family of Spain, in particular, is known for its excesses and pomp. Reinstalling a king on the throne of France would require supporting his family. However, in the United Kingdom, the “operating budget” allocated to the royal house amounts to 80 million euros per year. “In the Netherlands, the king receives a salary of 80,000 euros per month. But this is the most impressive. In Spain, the king receives rather 15,000 to 20,000 euros per month.”

For Nicolas Fontaine, these funding issues are comparable to those related to the lifestyle of our political leaders. “In recent years, there have been major reforms implemented for the sake of transparency within monarchies, for example in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. We know to the penny what an expenditure is used for. Whereas what is going on today at the Élysées can be vague. And then let’s not forget that there is also a form of court around the president…”

It could be argued, however, that in the face of opposition or scandals, a president must leave his post, where the person of a king is legally inviolable and irremovable.