Thank you Royal Family for bringing me back to my senses. Your groovy new Duchess, and your rain-sodden Diamond Jubilee had lulled me into a feeling of warmth towards your institution that I realise now was caused by a bad bout of demographic creep.
You know that feeling you get when you start buying the Women’s Weekly and listening to the ABC because you think they’ve become cooler, when actually you’ve just become older and less cool? I can now put my recent dabble with Royal love down to that.
And today you’ve grabbed me by the shoulders and shaken me out of it with the publication of your new rules of court.
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The Queen has just spent four days celebrating her Diamond Jubilee. She did so in what they call grand style. Good for her. She is a good stick. She cheers up the people of England, the family she heads generates tourism, and she does kindly deeds for benevolent causes.
She is also our head of state. Don’t worry, as a republican I am not about to use the occasion of her 60-year reign to reheat the dusty old arguments for constitutional change. We had our chance in 1999 and we blew it. In the absence of any mainstream political will to revisit the issue, we are stuck with the Queen and her heirs for a very long time. Our lives as Australians are not materially different for that fact, even if that fact is anachronistic and jars with our national belief in meritocracy.
What interested me more about the Diamond Jubilee was the image it presented of England itself, and what a sad and sorry joint it has become.
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There has been a bit of a popular phrase going around for the last couple of days. It goes something like this: “Even Republicans must acknowledge the Queen is a remarkable woman.”
Well. No. We. Don’t.
If anything the vulgar pageantry we have seen in the last few days as Elizabeth celebrates 60 years as Queen of England (and Australia) hammers home the point about what an obscene spectacle it all is.
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To describe myself as a republican is a bit of an understatement. I don’t just want Australia to have its own head of state, the whole concept of monarchy makes me really angry.
I’ve been known to swear at the television during coverage of Princess Mary or the Duchess of Cambridge’s highly contrived life events, when blubbering TV hosts declare they’ve achieved “every little girl’s dream”. It is, frankly, insulting.
The rhetoric that the masses find it uplifting to witness ostentatious displays of wealth and entitlement by people whose only qualification is that they were born is a load of rubbish.
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Queen Elizabeth turned 80 on April 21, 2006, but a magnificent gift from Australia which taxpayers helped fund has yet to reach the birthday girl.
In fact it is 2224 days late for the celebrations and it seems it might never be delivered, even as the Queen now prepares for her Diamond Jubilee at age 86.
The present is a state coach—specifically State Coach Britannia—lovingly built by Sydney craftsman Jim Frecklington with the help of a $245,000 grant from the Coalition government of John Howard, a Senate estimates committee was told yesterday.
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