The expression “the King is dead. Long live the King” has a historical meaning and gave rise to phrases such as “The Empire is dead. Long live the Empire”, currently there are emerging remarks of “The Republic is dead. Long live the Republic”. These phrases imply that an era is ending, and another will undoubtedly follow. Therefore, “The Republic is dead. Long live the Republic” describes a political transition. Although the phrase originated amongst the royals, it has been transferred to other events or slogans.

Background to the study

The concept “The Republic is dead. Long live the Republic” indicates that the republic's ideals and principles will continue regardless of the previous administration's ending. Additionally, the notion implies the continuation of ‘values’ guiding the incoming administration. The phrase “The King is dead. Long Live the King” emerged during France's 19th Century political turbulence. Whenever a king died, the populace would chant the phrase to signal that the monarchy would not die but would continue under the new administration.

In France, the “King is dead. Long live the King” referred to the crown being passed directly to the king's successor (Finnson, 2019:6). However, this was not the case with King Lous XVI when his administration came to an erupt end in 1973, and being labelled as the “Last King” ending the French Monarch (Murano, 2020). This demonstrates why the usage of “Long live the King” because no one knows how long the king will live; it is in the form of an abridged statement expressing wishes, similar to “Long live the Republic”.

The Republic

Following the aftermath of the French Revolution, France declared the abolition of the monarch system in 1792, moving to Republic (Murano, 2020). Nonetheless, France was in a chaotic state due to not having any form of government. This is why the phrase “The King is dead. Long live the King” was necessary for stability; to have a government in place after the King’s demise. However, the French Revolution was the way to end the monarchy structure and pave the way to the Republic.

In addition, The France revolution remains one of the most radical historical political changes globally concerning the pave to the Republic. For example, “A Tale of Two Cities” by Dickens (1859) notes that “If the Republic really does good to the poor, and they come to be less hungry, and in all ways to suffer less, she may live a long time: she may even live to be old” which is a reference to “Long live the Republic”. The Republic is defined by Watzlawick, Beavin and Jackson (1967) as a representative government structure ruled through a charter or constitution, and the head of state is not a monarch.

For instance, the phrase “The Republic is dead. Long live the republic” is a form of communication because it becomes difficult to lead without transmitting the information. Watzlawick et al. (1967) define communication as influencing people to accept the change in leadership and not make them worry. Nonetheless, “Republic is Dead” expresses the end of an era, while “long live the Republic” demonstrates the continuity of ideals regardless of leadership change to reassure the public. This assists in avoiding political conflict.

The expression “Republic is dead. Long live the Republic” is an indication of state continuity in protecting the rights of equality, fraternity and liberties, as expressed by Dickens (1859) by quoting the famous slogan during the French Revolution “The Republic One and Indivisible of Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, or Death” which refers to the protection of democratic values regardless of the danger faced. Furthermore, it states the importance of protecting human rights and the rule of law outlined in the Republic; hence the phrase reminds the general public that the principles within the Republic should continue and have consistency.

Likewise, the Republic dies when it fails to be democratic through its inability to be governed by the people and ineffectiveness in addressing the needs of the public. At the same time, the plutocrats dominate the government and political systems. The failure is followed by violence and destruction, as seen in Rome changing to Tyranny, Germany under the Nazis, and Mussoline in Italy dissolving the parliament.

To summarise, “King is Dead. Long Live the King” and “The Republic is Dead. Long Live the Republic” transmit consistent ideology regardless of the political change. Nevertheless, it remains crucial to guard the principles and values of the Republic, as they include human rights and freedom. Therefore, the phrase should be considered a reminder of the past while structuring a way forward.


Dickens, C. 1859. A Tale of Two Cities.
Finnsson, A. 2018. The Blood of a King Brings Joy:” Blood and the Execution of Louis XVI Murano, V. 2020. The Pitiful King: Tears, Blood, and Family in Revolutionary Royalism.
Watzlawick, P., Beavin, J. H. & Jackson, D. D. 1967. Pragmatics of human communication: A study of interactional patterns, pathologies and paradoxes. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Co.