As I'm sure most of you have heard there has been tumult in Tunisia recently with widespread riots and an uprising against President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali who has been forced to flee with his family into exile. These days stability is usually favored over instability no matter what the character of the regime in place (instability is bad for business after all), yet, lest anyone feel too sorry for late president it should be remembered that he was a dictor for all intents and purposes and he himself took power in a coup d'état in 1987 (prior to which he was prime minister) against President Habib Bourguiba who had led the revolutionary uprising for independence from the French colonial empire in 1957. All of this has, naturally, led monarchists to take an interest in Tunisia and wonder who is "our man" for Tunisia and might there be an opportunity here for a royal restoration. As much as I would like to say otherwise, I'm afraid the answer to that question is most probably 'no'.
Back in the good ol' days of traditional authority it was the Husainid dynasty that supplied the long list of royal rulers who held the title of "Bey of Tunis". The family was of Cretan origin and came to North Africa with the Janisseries of the Ottoman Sultan. After a struggle amongst other chieftains in the region they became the Ottoman viceroys and ultimately the Beys of Tunis, starting in 1705. Their rule continued from that time until the aforementioned revolution in 1957, first under the (eventually totally symbolic) sovereignty of the Ottoman Empire and from 1881 as part of the colonial empire of the French Republic. The last Bey of Tunis was His Highness Muhammad VIII al-Amin who came to the throne in 1943 when his cousin was deposed by the Free French forces for having gone along with the Vichy government in unoccupied France. In fact, and this is an area of history uncomfortable for most involved, almost all of the colonial governments did go along with the Vichy regime because there was no other French government functioning. Even the United States recognized the government in Vichy as the legitimate authority in France until 1944.
On March 20, 1956 he proclaimed the independence of Tunisia and exchanged his title of "Bey of Tunis" for "King of Tunisia". However, Habib Bourguiba already had his sights set on the top job. He also had international support for having backed the Allies in World War II. He was very pro-western, progressive (originally a socialist) and definitely republican. So, Tunisia was to join the rather long list of former colonies whose native monarchies failed to survive independence even if they had supported that cause. Bourguiba launched a military coup against the King, isolated him and finally arrested him. The King refused to recognize the new regime and never abdicated (which naturally places Tunisia on the list of countries with a totally illegitimate government) and his life after that point was one of constant sorrow and tragedy. He was kept under house arrest most of the time, he was only allowed to return to Tunis after the death of his beloved wife and then lived in a very modest little apartment. In a rather touching moment, upon his death in 1962, as per his wishes, he was buried next to his wife rather than in the magnificent company of his royal ancestors.
HH Crown Prince Husain Bey then became head of the family and legitimate King of Tunisia until his death in 1969. As can be imagined, there has not been much opportunity for the Royal Family or Tunisian monarchists to make the case for a restoration (republican dictators being excellent at suppressing opposition if nothing else) and the family has also been troubled by that most harmful of diseases to the monarchist cause: phony pretenders. One particularly ambitious self-styled prince was tireless in wooing the assorted royal book writers and gong collectors and managed to have himself and his bogus family tree listed in some royal books and records usually regarded as authoritative. Undoing the damage of that has been difficult. Prince Muhammad X has been head of the royal family since 2006 but remains rather unknown (last time I checked the website of the royal house it was no longer on-line) and chances of a restoration remain very slim.