Monarchy is one of the oldest forms of government. Many today regard it as obsolete, but the introductory essay on Modern Monarchy points out that democracy by itself is no guarantee of greater social harmony and justice. On the contrary, those countries which retained their monarchies during the 20th century generally enjoyed greater political stability - compare Spain, Russia and Germany with Britain, Holland and Sweden. Spain is a particularly interesting case because not only was the monarchy restored as part of the constitutional arrangements to reinstate democracy, but shortly afterwards the present king defended democracy against a military coup. More recently, the royal families of Serbia and Afghanistan have featured in attempts to bring peace to their strife-torn countries. This second edition not only brings the 1st edition (1999) up to date, but enlarges it by the inclusion of an additional fifteen families, bringing the total to nearly seventy. It is concise but comprehensive, modestly priced and easy to use. In compiling the book, the editor has sought the cooperation of the royal family concerned to glean information not readily available elsewhere.
The arrangement is alphabetical by country, but some countries have more than one royal family, whether because there are rival claimants to the throne, as in France, or because within a modern state there is more than one royal family, such as Germany or Uganda. For ease of reference and comparison the information is arranged under standard headings, but cultural differences around the world mean that certain family details are not divulged in some countries. Each two-page entry contains: the name and title of the reigning monarch/head of the family, his/her date and place of birth, parentage, siblings, religion, date of marriage, consort(s) with their previous name(s), children, place of residence, date of succession and coronation, constitutional status, source of income, a brief history of the dynasty, and a black and white photograph on the facing page. "Royal Families Worldwide" is the most comprehensive list of royal families today.
Mark Watson is a writer and broadcaster on royalty and genealogy. He has served as Secretary to King Kigeli V of Rwanda and as Honorary ADC to Prince Shwebomin of Burma.