The Prince William effect: republican celebrity converts
Prince William’s coming visit seems to have resulted in the dramatic conversion of a republican celebrity. This is none other than the editor and media personality Ms. Ita Clare Buttrose AO OBE, who campaigned for the politicians’ republic during the 1999 referendum.
Readers of the Wentworth Courier, which circulates in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, were surprised then by her harsh dismissal of the No case and indeed of constitutional monarchists.
Ms Buttrose was the founding editor of Cleo which, with its nude male centrefolds, was aimed at young single women. She later edited the more conservative Australian Women’s Weekly and the Daily and Sunday Telegraphs.
In 2009, the Friends of the National Library offered a dinner to honour her impressive achievements in the world of publishing and journalism.
She was chosen by Channel 9 to present its broadcast of the wedding of Prince Charles to Diana, Princess of Wales. Ms. Buttrose delivered her lines regally seated in a carriage. Hence Australians were somewhat surprised when she later declared her staunch republicanism.
But there will be immense sadness today in the diminished Australian republican camp, which long ago lost its celebrity appeal and called off the candlelit dinners in five star hotels. How different it was at the 1998 Constitutional Convention when the republican leaders were holed up in the five star Hyatt Hotel, and ACM was out in the suburbs in a comfortable motel - with the rank and file.
In any event, by her enthusiastic endorsement of Prince William on Channel 9 on Friday 15 January, it seems that Ms. Buttrose has come back to the monarchy.
Welcome back, Ita. Perhaps you will be presenting the next royal wedding from your carriage.
As a royalist again, Ms. Buttrose could have a word to Telegraph journalist, the aristocratically named Sarrah Le Marquand.
Ms. Le Marquand’s republican piece “Time to talk republic long overdue” was prominently published in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph (16/1) just on the eve of Prince William’s visit.
Ms. Le Marquand should be politely advised that it is wise to know your subject before writing on it. Calling for an immediate end to what is after all our crowned republic, she claims “we don’t need to continue picking up the tab for the lavish lifestyle of the Windsor family to enjoy the occasional spectacle of a royal wedding”.
First we pay nothing for the Windsor Family’s life style which, on the whole, is pretty abstemious. In any event, the Royal Family pays for itself, the Crown Estate more than covering funds provided by the British Government not as salaries but to cover expenses properly incurred. This also covers the running costs of The Queen of Australia, for which, Ms Marquand, we pay nothing.
There is another factor which trumps the predicable republican whingeing over the costs of a visit being paid mainly by The Queen. Tourism returns for a Royal Visit are substantial – Australia gets worldwide attention at this time, and unlike tourism advertisements, it is free.
Tourism Australia spent about $100 million on tourism promotion last year and we earned about $25 billion. Professor Noel Cox from Monarchy New Zealand points out a single full page advertisement in The Times in London is expensive – A$ 45,000. The Prince‘s forthcoming visit is already getting British and worldwide media attention even before he arrives. And this is free. We and New Zealand will do very well out of Prince William who is fitting this in while on leave from the armed forces.
“If we were going to pay for this kind of advertisement, it would cost a fortune,” says Professor Cox. “No matter how you look at this, it’s good news for New Zealand. Bringing Prince William here will put New Zealand in front of millions of readers, viewers, and listeners all over the world. Some of them are going to follow in his footsteps.”
What is the betting Prince William’s visit will be more effective in bringing in tourists than say, the “Where the bloody hell are you?” campaign.
And as for “picking up the tab”, when are we going to stop diverting money from schools hospital and water into the endless votes , inquiries, reports, investigations, and the creeping republicanism – the attempts to hide and change royal symbols in contempt of the 1999 vote.
At great cost to the taxpayer the republicans were given a free hand to choose their best model. But the people rejected that nationally, in all states and in 72 per cent of electorates.
What Ms Marquand fails to explain are:
(a) just what precisely is wrong with one of the world’s most successful constitutions,
(b) how she proposes that should be remedied,
(c) what new flag she is proposing and
(d) how much this will cost.
She should check her facts and put some thought into these preliminary matters before she bursts into print on something for which she is manifestly unprepared.
- David Flint is National Convenor of Australians for Constitutional Monarchy, and an emeritus professor of law
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