HM Zaher Shah, the King of Afghanistan.
The Importance of the Monarchy to a Stable Afghanistan
Messrs Bryan Stertern-Gill, George Bougais, David Bennett and Trevor Stanley, Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all let me thank you for your invitation and let me tell you how much I regret that I cannot be present at your conference, as it is of great importance for monarchy in general and the maintenance or restoration of this form of government, which has proved its validity over many centuries and which brings both essential political as well as economic stability.
I can neither travel myself to your country nor ask any other person to represent me due to numerous obligations here in the Principality of Monaco.
As I indicated, and as supported recently by Her Majesty Empress Farah of Iran, the monarchy is a form of government that showed its validity for many centuries, which gives an incomparable legitimacy and credibility.
The economic and political stability of monarchies need not to be proven. His Majesty King Juan Carlos of Spain knew how to re-introduce democracy into his kingdom and gained great popularity among his people such as no elected head of state could ever dream. The continuity of his reign will be beneficial beyond his time.
I would also like to nominate as an example and pay homage to His Serene Highness, Prince Rainier III of Monaco, who has been a visionary and exemplary monarch in the manner in which he has transformed his Principality into a modern state and taken it into the 21st Century with pomp and glory, and who represents in himself the Principality.
I live in Monaco myself and I can therefore see for myself the works that this "Builder Prince" has undertaken and how he is constantly improving his country.
No other elected head of state could be closer to his people, could have a deeper attachment to his country, greater selflessness or a greater desire to dedicate himself to guide his actions to the benefit of his nation.
I believe that the monarchies provide continuity and are the only political form of government that guarantees continuity. This means that long term projects are completed, instead of being abandoned because one head of state doesn't agree with the visions of his predecessor.
Countries which like Afghanistan come out of a crisis - or still live in it like Iran - cannot come to democracy other than under a monarchy. The sovereign who is above political party lines can arbitrate or prevent excesses or mismanagement of governments, can bring greater stability to the country and can at the same time bring a hope of liberty and democracy to the people.
These countries need symbols around which they can assemble and in whom they can put their hope and confidence.
The importance of your gathering for me is that you remind people of the importance of the monarchies in the whole world and to encourage their existence or their restoration.
The republics have a shorter existence and bring disagreement, corruption without precedent and - a paradox - less democracy because the head of state comes from a political party and can therefore not be objective or impartial, or even less, arbitrate between the government and the political opposition in difficult situations.
Today I can gladly state that in my opinion the monarchy in Serbia and Montenegro has a good future. I do sincerely think that HRH Prince Alexander II of Yugoslavia, who enjoys great popularity amongst the population, can look forward to being proposed to ascend his ancestor's throne. I had several meetings with HRH, who is a person with splendid convictions and I am sure he could bring democracy to Serbia and Montenegro and well-being to the people.
It is important to underline the attachment of the people to their sovereigns and their heirs. While countries go through crisis the people turn towards them and demand their return. During and after the war in Afghanistan, which brought so much destruction at the hands of the Taliban, the people immediately demanded the return of HM King Zaher Shah. I myself received countless letters and statements which I forwarded to His Majesty, some from Afghans in exile, who supported actively the return of the king, some even from foreign heads of government or state, which proves that even deposed and in exile the image of the king has remained unharmed, his aura and the impact of his speeches are so strong that these governments wanted to address to the only person who seemed to them to be the symbol of Afghanistan, its stability and its unity.
Some of these governments had originally encouraged, or hadn't prevented the deposition of the king, but this didn't stop them appealing to him to solve the Afghan crisis. His Majesty appeared to them to be the only person who could be able to re-establish a moral authority in Afghanistan. He received from Mr. Harmid Karzai, president of the Afghan government, in the name of the people, the title "Father of the Afghan Nation".
The return of the king to Afghanistan was a blessing and a relief for many Afghans, even for those who are still in exile.
Afghanistan has not yet finished the war and many difficulties are still lying ahead, but the king's image is reassuring and goes on in his descendents, especially the heir HRH Prince Hamad Shah Khan. The Afghan Constitution, which grants an honourary function to His Majesty, needs, in my opinion, to be completed and this work should be done rapidly in the interests of the Afghan people.
I would also like to pay homage to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of Australia, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Head of the Commonwealth.
The Queen is held in high esteem throughout her country and the dominions. By her dedication and her constant wish to serve the country and her people, the Queen is an example to many heads of state.
I want to welcome once again the initiative to organise this conference, which has as its aim to propagate the image of the monarchies and to form cordial and strong ties among them. This courageous undertaking organised by Mr. Bryan Stertern-Gill, Mr. George Bougais, Mr. David Bennett and Mr. Trevor Stanley whom I wish to send sincere felicitations, is essential.
To me it is important that monarchies and monarchist groups unite in friendship and solidarity so that this form of state is better understood by the public at large.
It is urgent for some countries to have their democracy restored or installed and in this perspective and essential phase the intervention or mediation of a sovereign might help, I think particularly of Iran, Serbia and Montenegro, Albania and naturally Afghanistan, but many other countries as well.
We can easily see that the image of a monarch and a royal family is reassuring for the people and it is inspiring for the future of a country when the dynastic continuity as well as the political and economic stability are ensured. This political form of state is best adapted to the needs of every country and it is the only one that exists all over the world with proven and positive results. This has not been the case with republics, which often bring a climate of disappointment to the population, instability and paradoxically a decline of liberty and identity.
The sovereign is the symbol of a country's unity, a concrete example of this is Belgium, where the king is the uniting symbol for the people, divided by different languages, but it is also the case in the United Kingdom, Spain and many more countries.
Once again, please receive my friendship and my sincerest encouragement.
It is my wish that this conference can be held regularly and I hope one day I will be able to participate.
Thank you for your attention.
With best wishes,
Translated from the French by Mr Harold Schmautz