Arise Sir John? Who dares bring back the knighthood
Pop quiz – name an AC (Companion of the Order of Australia). Quick! Nice try but probably no cigar.
At the risk of putting two and two together and coming up with 147, The Punch detects (speculates wildly) the time might be ripe for a swing back to the days of Sirs and Dames.
Perhaps it’s John Howard’s induction into the Order of Merit or the fact the Queen finished 2011 with a grin as wide as the Empire of old.
The NSW Upper House recently reinstated that part of the constitution which allows MPs and Ministers to swear allegiance to “Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Her heirs and successors” as an alternative to “Australia and the peoples of New South Wales” They’re a hard-working lot up there.
And judging by current polling, some time in the next two years it’s a strong possibility a former head of Australians for Constitutional Monarchy will become the Prime Minister.
Tony Abbott’s office quite sensibly encountered a mass outbreak of poor phone reception yesterday when The Punch rang to ask if he would consider bringing back knighthoods.
But as monarchists everywhere will tell you – John Key brought back knighthoods in New Zealand and the most embarrassing thing to happen was that the captain of the All Blacks turned one down (they tend to leave that second bit out).
Key even allowed the existing Principal Companions and Distinguished Companions to convert their honours into a Knighthood or Damehood, and sure enough 72 of the 85 people eligible took him up on it. Well, you would, wouldn’t you.
Bob Hawke was the one who froze Australian Knighthoods. Reinstating them would be a bit complicated, but Chief Monarchist David Flint says legally it could be done – just that it would probably be a good idea to run it past the Palace.
Apparently they got a bit shirty with all the to-ing and fro-ing over the issue in the 80s. But with things now going so swimmingly for the Windsors, they might be open to revisiting things.
So do our current crop of AC’s, our top civil honour, deserve a title?
Sir Richard Butler? Sir Peter Costello? Sir Reg Grundy? Sir Bob Hawke? (Surely he’d have to say no to the title). Dame Janet Holmes a Court? Dame Nicole Kidman? Sir Jeff Kennett?
Stranger things have happened.
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