In previous ages – or just in previous centuries – kingdoms were ruled by kings; kings with real executive power, not just ceremonial heads of state: “Formerly everywhere, all over the world, the monarchy was prevalent.” Srila Prabhupada says, “Even up to date some of the countries, they are maintaining monarchy, but only in name actually; the monarch has no power. So monarchy is good so long the king is as ideal as Bharata Maharaja, Rshabhadeva, Maharaja Yudhisthira, Maharaja Parikshit, Lord Ramachandra.” (Lecture on SB 5.5.28, Vrindavana, 15 Nov 1976.)
A key statement, demonstrating interdependence: “monarchy is good so long the king” is ideal as the great saintly rulers of the Indian past. A system – any system – is only as good as the people populating it. A political system – any political system – that gives unchecked power to the ruler is only as beneficial to the state as the degree of enlightenment and qualification of the ruler. If the ruler is despotic and irreligious, better to limit his power through a mechanism of checks and balances.