Middle East Political Reform Resilience The Gulf

Issue Brief

June 6, 2023

How monarchies end

By Stephen Grand

The whole world is in revolt. Soon there will be only five Kings left—the King of England, the King of Spades, The King of Clubs, the King of Hearts, and the King of Diamonds.”

King Farouk of Egypt, 1948

In a new Scowcroft Middle East Security Initiative issue brief, “How Monarchies End”, Atlantic Council’s Nonresident Senior Fellow Stephen R. Grand flips the analytical script on the spate of notable publications covering “how democracies die.”

Grand examines what happens when autocratic rule corrodes and what pushes it to ultimately crumble. Under what circumstances do kings and queens, emperors and caliphs, cease to rule — either because their throne is transformed into a more ceremonial post or because they lose power entirely? For the eight remaining Arab monarchs, the downfall of their former global peers offer critical insights and parallels.

The issue brief examines these topics and provides strategies for managing challenges to power, as well as a series of lessons for Arab monarchs to consider.

About the author

Stephen R. Grand

Nonresident Senior Fellow
Rafik Hariri Center & Middle East Programs

Executive Director, Network for Dialogue
Instituto Affari Internazionali & PAX

Grand was director of the Project on US Relations with the Islamic World (housed within the Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings), where he wrote the book Understanding Tahrir Square: What Transitions Else- where Can Teach Us about the Prospects for Arab Democracy (2014). Other prior positions include director of the Middle East Strategy Group at the Aspen Institute, director of programs at the German Marshall Fund, professional staff member for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and founding executive director of the Civic Education Project. He has also served as a visiting or adjunct professor at Georgia State University (current), Utrecht University, the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, Erasmus University in Rotterdam, American University’s School of International Service and Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.

Scowcroft Middle East Security Initiative

The Scowcroft Middle East Security Initiative (SMESI) provides policymakers fresh insights into core US national security interests by leveraging its expertise, networks, and on-the-ground programs to develop unique and holistic assessments on the future of the most pressing strategic, political, and security challenges and opportunities in the Middle East. 

Image: A coach carrying Britain's Prince William, Catherine, Princess of Wales, and their children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis rides past protesters following Britain's King Charles and Queen Camilla's coronation in London, Britain May 6, 2023. REUTERS/Violeta Santos Moura/Pool TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY