Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Monarchy Profile: Andorra

Name: The Principality of Andorra
Reigning Monarch: Co-Prince Joan-Enric Vives i Sicilia, Bishop of Urgell and Co-Prince Francois Hollande, President of the French Republic
Reigning Family: None
Status: Perhaps the most unique of the remaining monarchies of the world the Principality of Andorra, long ruled jointly by the Kings of France and the Bishops of Urgell in Spain, has a history stretching back to the 9th Century. Tradition says that their first charter was granted to them by the Emperor Charlemagne with the land being ruled by the Count of Urgell. Centuries later the descendants of the count gave the lands to the Catholic diocese of Urgell but the Bishops had to make alliance with more powerful feudal lords to defend Andorra; first the Caboet then the House of Foix until the system was formally established for a co-principality held jointly by the Bishop of Urgell and the Count of Foix. The Foix claim passed to the viscounts of BĂ©arn and then to the French royal house of Bourbon under King Henri IV. Since 1607 the King of France (and later the Presidents of the French Republic) and the Bishops of Urgell have been co-Princes of Andorra. It was not until 1993 that Andorra adopted its first written constitution in order to join the European Union. The government is a parliamentary democracy, the Prime Minister is head of government and the positions of the co-Princes of Andorra are effectively honorary ones with executive power resting in the Prime Minister. Neither co-prince lives in the country and their ceremonial duties are carried out by local representatives.


  1. So, funnily enough, President Sarkozy is a monarch. I always thought that was a hilarious position to be in.

  2. It should be noted that Andorra is the only Nation in the world in which the Head of State is Elected, yet the people of the State have no vote in who picks him.

    That said, if a Written Constitution was needed to join the EU, then how do you explain the United Kingdom being let in? Its not like there is a Written constitution for the UK, though Politicians now want one to cement the Changes they wish to inflict, or have already. Had there been one in the 1950's though, one can safely say the Lords would not be in the shambles they are in now.

    Not to hijack this post on Andorra in the name of Great Britain, just an oddity that they needed a Written Constitution, while the UK didn't.

  3. That was effectively what it amounted to though I was simplifying the situation for the sake of brevity. Certain legal guarantees concerning civil rights, human rights etc were required to join the EU. The UK has laws which recognized these things but Andorra never had most of this stuff put down on paper so they drew up a constitution that would contain the requirements for EU membership.

  4. Replies
    1. Not at the moment, no, though the Social Democrats favor full membership. It is part of the Eurozone since Andorra does not have its own currency and has always used French and Spanish currency which is now the euro. In 1990 the European Council said Andorra would need a more formal constitution to join the EU which was passed in 1993 though Andorra has not yet seen fit to actually join the EU.


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