Hereditary royalty is a conceit, a fairy-tale illusion. But people in a host of countries still see it as a useful organizing principle, at least for culture and communal ritual. The question now is whether, in Britain, the phrase “modern monarchy” turns out to be an oxymoron.

At Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral in Westminster Abbey on Monday, the front rows were occupied by her fellow royals: The kings and queens of the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden, the queen and crown prince of Denmark and other crowned heads most Americans would be hard pressed to recognize.

Follow Eugene Robinson on Twitter: @Eugene_Robinson.

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