“From the comfort of his country estate in Oxford, a distant relative of the Russian literary giant Tolstoy says he has the perfect solution for what ails the United States. America, he declares, needs a monarchy.” L. Wayne, The New York Times
“In fact, Count Nikolai Tolstoy says, more kings, queens and all the frippery that royalty brings would be not just a salve for a superpower in political turmoil, but also a stabilizing force for the world at large.
‘I love the monarchy,’ Count Tolstoy, 82, said as he sat in his lush garden behind an expansive stone house. ‘Most people think the monarchy is just decorative and filled with splendor and personalities. They do not appreciate the important ideological reasons for a monarchy.’ The count is not the only voice advocating rule by royalty. An author and a conservative politician who holds dual British and Russian citizenship, he leads the International Monarchist League and is part of a loose confederation of monarchists scattered across the globe, including in the United States.
Their core arguments: Countries with monarchies are better off because royal families act as a unifying force and a powerful symbol; monarchies rise above politics; and nations with royalty are generally richer and more stable.
Critics say such views are antiquated and alarming in an era when democracies around the globe appear to be imperiled. The count and his band of fellow monarchists, however, are determined to make their case at conferences, in editorials and at fancy balls.
A recent study that examined the economic performance of monarchies versus republics bolsters their views. Led by Mauro F. Guillén, a management professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, the study found ‘robust and quantitatively meaningful evidence’ that monarchies outperform other forms of government.
Far from being a dying system, the study said, ‘monarchies are surprisingly prevalent around the world.’ They provide a ‘stability that often translates into economic gains’; they are better at protecting property rights and checking abuses of power by elected officials; and they have higher per-capita national incomes, the study said.
Mr. Guillén says he was ‘shocked’ by the results, which have not yet been published. ‘Most people think monarchies are something anachronistic,’ he said. ‘They think that modern forms of government are superior and have trouble accepting that monarchies have advantages.’ When he presents his findings, ‘there is more skepticism in the room than with the average paper,’ said Mr. Guillén, who is not a monarchist. ‘It’s been an uphill battle.’
His findings come as no surprise, however, to monarchists, who aim to preserve existing monarchies and to support royals who live in exile. They believe that countries with exiled royals should return them to the throne, and that nations without monarchies should consider a switch.
‘We support the retention and restoration of monarchies anywhere in the world,” Count Tolstoy said. “Our goal is to persuade people.”
NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.
Level: Intermediate – Advanced
Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.
Time: Approximately 2 hours.
Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.
Objective: Students will read and discuss the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.
I. Pre-Reading Activities
Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos
Directions: Have students examine the titles of the post and of the actual article. After they examine the photos, ask students to create a list of words and ideas that they think might be related to this article.
II. While Reading Activities
Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.
- Many believe that there is style, a mystery and ethos with a monarch.
- Kings, queens and all the frippery that royalty brings would be a stabilizing force for the world at large.
- People love the monarchy.
- The count is not the only voice advocating rule by royalty.
- Critics say such views are antiquated and alarming.
- Most people think monarchies are something anachronistic.
- They believe that countries with exiled royals should return them to the throne.
- “We support the retention and restoration of monarchies .
- History books, of course, are replete with examples of monarchies.
- Some kings were ousted by bloody rebellions.
Directions: Review the following statements from the reading. If a statement is true they mark it T. If the statement is not applicable, they mark it NA. If the statement is false they mark it F and provide the correct answer.
- According to Count Nikolai Tolstoy, most people think the monarchy is the right way to rule a country.
- Count Nikolai Tolstoy is the only voice advocating rule by royalty.
- Count Tolstoy, 82 said that he loves the monarchy.
- Critics say monarchies are better than democracies.
- A recent study that examined the economic performance of monarchies versus republics bolsters the views of monarchists.
- The study was led by Mauro F. Guillén, a management professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
- The study found that monarchies outperform other forms of government.
- Mr. Guillén says he foresaw the results.
- His findings come as no surprise, however, to monarchists.
- Monarchists believe that countries with monarchies are better off because royal families act as a unifying force and a powerful symbol.
Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage
Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical error. Students are to identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.
- Mr. Guillén’s study show that since 1900, 22 countries have abandoned royal leaders.
- The study noted that some current monarchies lack basic democratic freedoms.
- Those surviving in the Middle East are the very lucky.
- Finding people to reject the monarchists’ vision is not hard.
- The group have a clear mandate.
- We want to see the monarchy abolished.
- Monarchies of Eastern Europe could be a bulwark against Soviet expansion.
- Count Tolstoy took over in the mid-1980s.
- He has also runs, unsuccessfully, as a parliamentary candidate.
III. Post Reading Activities
Directions: Place students in groups and assign each group one side of the following argument. Allow groups to develop their arguments and conclude with a class debate.
A: Rule by royalty is helpful to countries.
B: Rule by royalty is not helpful to countries.
1-Minute Free Writing Exercise
Directions: Allow students 1 minute to write down one new idea they’ve learned from the reading. Ask them to write down one thing they did not understand in the reading. Review the responses as a class. Note: For the lower levels allow more time for this writing activity.