Home > General > There’s something about royal visits …

There’s something about royal visits …

March 14th, 2005

… that reduces presumably rational people to babbling incoherence. In today’s Age, Christopher Scanlon of RMIT writes

Australians want monarchs who maintain the fantasy of monarchism, who embody the impossible ideal of monarchy …The problem with the Windsors is that they’re just too much like us. Their lives are as complex and contradictory as our own. And because of that they’ve soiled the fantasy of monarchism as some kind of divine state.

and two paras later

The Danish royals appear enough like us to be comfortable; they’re not aloof like those stuffy dysfunctional Windsors.

BTW, I found the same problem myself. I was going to write on this topic and suggest that we pass our own Act of Succession, offering the Australian throne to the highest-ranking European Royal willing to marry an Australian[1]. I thought this would go over well with both monarchists, republicans who care only about having an Australian head of state, and aspiring princesses/princes, between them enough to make up a majority. Then I realised that, unless the legislation was drawn up carefully, we might end up with Prince and Princess Michael.

fn1. I see Mark McKenna has much the same idea.

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  1. March 14th, 2005 at 08:52 | #1

    Despite my unabashed preference for an Australian republic, I think Prince Steve Waugh has a certain ring to it. 😉

  2. Giles
    March 14th, 2005 at 10:14 | #2

    Hey this is the 21st century – why not just ask for a sperm donation! The lucky sheila can then be drawn by lottery.

  3. March 14th, 2005 at 10:21 | #3

    Why not just offer the Royal Family dual AUS/UK citizenship? Then an Australian could be Sovereign of England.

  4. anne
    March 14th, 2005 at 10:58 | #4

    Moving to Australia, would there be a chance 🙂 ?

  5. Andrew Reynolds
    March 14th, 2005 at 11:09 | #5

    Diana gave us an heir and a spare. We could take the spare – Harry at least behaves a bit like an Aussie on holiday.

  6. Andrew Reynolds
    March 14th, 2005 at 11:42 | #6

    Just re-read the two paras you quoted. To me, at least, they appear contradictory. In para one, “they’re too much like us”, but in the second they are “aloof” and “stuffy”. I might find some Aussies who are aloof and stuffy, but I would not say that those are defining national characteristics.

  7. Ian McCluskey
    March 14th, 2005 at 12:20 | #7

    Didnt the pretender to the Albanian throne marry an Australian? King Leka and Queen Susan?

  8. March 14th, 2005 at 12:25 | #8

    Do the royal visits have a simmilar effect on already irrational people? Is Miranda Devine any less coherent than she normally is? As evidenced by the recent spray Fairytale defies the feminists, I’d reluctantly say “yes”.

  9. Nigel Jackson
    March 14th, 2005 at 12:31 | #9

    Why does the media fete the Danish monarchy and not the British one?

  10. Tom Davies
    March 14th, 2005 at 12:44 | #10

    “Fantasy of monarchism?” maybe all we want is the fantasy that you can meet Mr. Right at the Slip Inn 🙂

  11. March 14th, 2005 at 12:54 | #11

    On the other hand, how would those same crowds react to an announcement that either Crown Prince Frederik or Crown Princess Mary were being appointed governor-general? The magic of monarchy would not last the day. That’s the real problem, you can’t ground a form of government on fandom.

  12. anne
    March 14th, 2005 at 13:07 | #12

    Alastair, thanks 🙂

  13. March 14th, 2005 at 14:10 | #13

    Please read “In the wet”, by Nevil Shute. It has a great bearing on this issue of connecting far flung peoples to monarchy.

    From McKenna’s and others’ work, it may one day come to pass that republicans begin to appreciate that one reason their dream is rejected is its sheer emptiness. There just isn’t anything there but a sort of echo chamber, with no basis of values to go in there. Democracy is just too circular to provide all that people or polities need.

  14. Katz
    March 14th, 2005 at 14:31 | #14

    If we are determined not to become a republic, Australia could incorporate some of the best elements of non-popular sovereignty around the world.

    We could nominate a proto monarchist, for example David Flint. Until Professor Flint dies we could maintain our current arrangements with the Windsors. But upon his death, Flint’s body would remain on the throne until rigor mortis sets in.

    Once his dead gaze is finally fixed, Dalai Lama-like in an unchanging directiion, emissaries could be sent along that line of gaze to find a new-born infant with the appropriate marks of monarchy–close-set eyes, irresolute chin and a tangled thicket for a family tree. After all, such attributes have served monarchy very well for a long time now, and as monarchists are wont to observe, “If it aint broke, don’t fix it.”

    I believe this solution represents the perfect mixture of tradition and multiculturalism.

  15. March 14th, 2005 at 15:05 | #15

    In our constitution the Head of State is effectively a ceremonial function. No one does ceremony better than the British Royal Family. AUS is an province of the Anglophone nation, whose historic headquarters has been Westminster.
    Therefore, provided the Royal Family has AUS citizenship, it follows that the most appropriate Head of the AUS State is the head of the British Royal Family. Farming the job out to one of the lesser Royals would be insulting to AUS and Her/His Majesty.

  16. michael.burgess
    March 14th, 2005 at 15:25 | #16

    PM Lawrence writes that ‘it may one day come to pass that republicans begin to appreciate that one reason their dream is rejected is its sheer emptiness. There just isn’t anything there but a sort of echo chamber, with no basis of values to go in there. Democracy is just too circular to provide all that people or polities need.’ Are you serious or is this a spoof. One of the obvious problems with Democracy is that people who worship royalty, religion and other relics of the middle ages also get the vote. The essential shallowness of modern peasants who grovel at the feet of royalty is illustrated by the fact that they loved Di because she was attractive and dislike CPB because she is less attractive.

  17. John Quiggin
    March 14th, 2005 at 15:40 | #17

    “No one does ceremony better than the British Royal Family.”

    On the contrary, it has become clear over the last few weeks that EU competitors can provide better service, and almost certainly at lower cost.

  18. March 14th, 2005 at 16:09 | #18

    Huge numbers of us aspire to the condition of Madam Mary. Marry the spunk, wear great clothes, zoom around playing sport, get yer ego stroked by screaming schoolchildren, and recruit only the best to do the dirty work with your children.

    None of us aspire to the condition of Big Ears and the Rottweiler. Even if they were personable, their lives are just horrible, devoid of fun, stiff, petty and distant. He’s like the kind of bank manager who turns people out of their farms. (and I am sure many good people have been forced to do this, but we are talking stereotypes here.)

  19. michael.burgess
    March 14th, 2005 at 16:18 | #19

    If you are going to go for royalty why not go the whole hog and have the Tamil version. Bollywood star becomes so famous made into a god and then becomes ruler of the state (or something along those lines). At least you then get someone who can sing and dance albeit generally fairly badly.

  20. March 14th, 2005 at 16:52 | #20

    “I was going to write on this topic and suggest that we pass our own Act of Succession, offering the Australian throne to the highest-ranking European Royal willing to marry an Australian.”
    I was thinking Martin Pearson, but that works too.

  21. March 14th, 2005 at 16:56 | #21

    My idea is to pass an act of succession that makes a person the heir of Queen Victoria, for the duration on one year only, on condition they win a lottery of all registered voters in Australia.

  22. March 14th, 2005 at 18:29 | #22

    John Quiggin — 14/3/2005 @ 3:40 pm leaps out of the Republican closet, garbed in meek Monarchical drag:

    On the contrary, it has become clear over the last few weeks that EU competitors can provide better service, and almost certainly at lower cost.

    Thats as maybe. Prince Frederick and Princess Mary must be somewhere in line for the British throne. If Pr Q can somehow arrange for most of the British Royal Family to forgo their rights to the regal succession then I would be happy to be ruled over by the Great Danes. It only seems fair, as the Danes have at least as much right to rule over the Angles as the Saxons.
    But this maneuvre would take an almost Lady Macbethian level of intrigue. Somehow, going by the ease with which Howard foiled the Republicans at the convention, I dont think he has it in him.

  23. R J Stove
    March 14th, 2005 at 18:37 | #23

    Brazil had its own monarchy – of Portuguese stock – for most of the 19th century. Probably the Brazilian imperial house killed fewer people, and did less damage in general, than most of the two-bit caudillos in the rest of South America (then and afterwards).

    The notion that a member of the House of Windsor should actually reside long-term in Australia (as a future royal, I mean, not – like the former Duke of Gloucester – as Governor-General) crops up now and again. Patrick Gordon-Walker, the British Labour politician during the Hugh Gaitskell and Harold Wilson eras, mapped out a proposal for this during the 1960s. It went into the too-hard basket. Historian Alan Atkinson has written about this in one of his books.

    BTW, Professor Q, I can’t speak for Princess Michael of Kent but I did know her mother a little, and she was a great lady. She worked in the office of a friend of mine, over 20 years ago. Very efficient, polite, and knowledgeable. Not for ages afterwards did I find out that she was Princess M of K’s mum. She died in 1988. Would’ve made a good Queen of Australia, I now think.

  24. March 14th, 2005 at 19:06 | #24

    MB, you describe the advantage of cake over icing alone. But the icing in a monarchy is a clue to the real cake that is there, and republics don’t even (of themselves) have icing.

    You should note, I am talking of what republics bring, not waht people pring to republics (if by chance they already have some basket of identity that sits easily with that). For that very reason if no other, the USA is no example to the rest of the world.

    It’s also worth noting in regards to Brazil that as soon as the monarchy was pushed out and a grace period passed, there commenced the usual republcan turnovers from lack of legitimacy. Luckily after the nation had been unified, though (Uruguay is a partial exception, in that it was never fully taken over).

    It’s also worth noting that most jumped up republics felt so unsure of their legitimacy that they exiled their royal families (Italy, Greece, Bulgaria, Rumania…) or otherwise stretched out a provisional republic with a mandate for constitutional monarchy (France, 3rd republic). And the Spanish were so disgusted with their 1st republic that they begged for a monarch to fill the gap.

  25. R J Stove
    March 14th, 2005 at 20:09 | #25

    Re P. M. Lawrence’s post at no. 24, I see that ex-Bulgarian King Simeon is now Bulgaria’s Prime Minister.
    Anyone who wants to know more about Spain’s somewhat Animal-House-like First Republic – also mentioned by P. M. Lawrence – will find a useful sketch of it in Sir Charles Petrie’s King Alfonso XIII And His Age, available at about 748 online bookstores near you. Writing in 1963 when Alfonso’s widow was still alive, Petrie had to conceal from the reader the more Clintonesque aspects of King A’s private life, but it’s a painless way of finding out about a topic not much covered in English otherwise.

  26. March 14th, 2005 at 20:26 | #26

    When I mentioned Bulgaria’s restrictions, I was referring to the well founded earlier precautions. After all, it’s not so far from Prince-President to Emperor – or, in this case, Tsar of all the Bulgars.

    If you want Clintonesque, you get that even worse with republics. Just consider the unusual circumstances surrounding the death of the French President Felix Faure, involving as it did not only a young lady but also a valet, a swing, and a pair of scissors.

    For what it’s worth, I have a copy of Petrie’s “Monarchy”.

  27. Andrew
    March 14th, 2005 at 21:31 | #27

    The greatest ambition that any Aussie gal can have now is apparently to become Eurotrash.

  28. March 15th, 2005 at 12:56 | #28

    Eurotrash is the fake quality that had to leave Europe to find someone who couldn’t tell the fake. That’s why it first surfaced in the USA. But there is real quality – and apart from revolutions etc. it doesn’t have to emigrate.

    See the film “Hellzapoppin” for a curious example of a real aristocrat passing himself off as a fake to have entree to a fake society which relishes the joke of a fake but doesn’t care for the real thing.

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