Queen Elizabeth Ii
There were starkly different reactions in Britain and Australia to pictures of his regal redness Prince Harry in naked frolic with a woman.
It had nothing to do with prudery.
The British and ourselves know that fornication has been a hobby of royalty for generations and certainly Harry could have learned a thing or two about a bit of below-stairs action from his father. Or his step-mother.
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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.
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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Britain’s colonial era, now represented by the modern Commonwealth of Nations meeting in Perth, can only be looked back on according to its good bits and its bad bits.
The good bits included rule of law, a public service, democracy, language and cricket.
The bad bits included economic exploitation, cultural genocide, brutal subjugation and cricket.
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Alexander Downer has a disturbing lack of faith in Australia and Australians. How else to explain his column in The Advertiser where he appeared to suggest without the good graces of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II Australia would slip into some sort of blood-soaked revolution.
Mr Downer invoked the situation in Libya, mentioned the horrors of the Russian Revolution and even the French Revolution then pondered why our nation is “quiet, placid, peaceful Australia”.
His conclusion? The Queen.
It is always a bit shocking when nominal republicans, usually those in public life, suggest we should delay making Australia a truly independent nation. We understand why they do it – most politicians would probably much rather leave the republic issue in the too-hard basket – but still we find it quite perplexing.
An Australian republic, after all, is our Australian issue. It is about us as a nation, as a people. As such, we can and should grasp it whenever we summon the national will to do so. Can you seriously imagine a citizen of the USA agreeing to a foreign national serving as the Head of State of the USA? Or of a German agreeing to a French national being at the apex of their constitutional arrangements?
Either possibility is, of course, unimaginable. Unfortunately, this is precisely the situation we have here in Australia today. We calmly accept that the eldest son of an English / German aristocratic family, who must be a member of the Church of England, sits by birthright – without regard to accomplishment – at the top of our constitutional tree. It almost seems as if we agree with Prince Andrew who recently claimed that it was in the Windsor genes to lead. Do we really think that in egalitarian Australia? Of course not.
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The Australian monarchists are divided – David Flint and his tightly controlled Australians for a Constitutional Monarchy (ACM) claim the Governor General is the Australian head of state while Philip Benwell and his Australian Monarch League (AML) are with the Republicans – it’s the foreign non resident unelected British Queen who holds this nation’s top job.
Ten years up the track, the debate is simmering away under the surface and right now Flint is holding the trump cards – he is said to pull in half a million dollars a year towards his cause which is remarkable considering ACM has only two members – Flint and his sidekick former Roman Catholic seminarian Thomas Flynn. The movement’s constitution is clever; its run by the pair with the help of would be members, who are non voting “supporters”
Professor Flint’s latest take on the vexed subject of a republic revolves around the quaint notion that if we change the constitution we’ll have a “politician’s republic”. He fails to mention we are now laboring under a “politician’s monarchy” – a point Tony Blair underscored when he pulled the Queen into line over her unbelievable indifference to the death of Princess Diana in 1997.
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