Coffee House

The Royal Family beats Australia’s dreary political class hands down

18 April 2014

Only a few hours before the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge landed in Sydney for the start of their much-hyped royal Australian visit, Barry O’Farrell, the popular Premier of New South Wales, stunned the nation by resigning. His reason? He couldn’t remember having quaffed a bottle of wine. (No ordinary wine, mind you, but a bottle of 1959 Penfolds Grange, valued at around GBP 1,700.) In years to come, no doubt among Barry’s many regrets will be the fact that he didn’t get to hob nob on the harbour with the glam royal couple.

A timely coincidence, because what links these two events goes to the heart of why Australia’s constitutional monarchy is so popular. The polls are unequivocal. Down under, the monarchy is ‘in’, republicanism is ‘out’. As the latest Fairfax Nielsen poll has it: “more than half of all Australians now believe the switch to a republic is unnecessary with 51 per cent opposing any such move and only 42 per cent backing it.” Which represents “the lowest pro-republican sentiment in 35 years.” Even more astonishing: “Just 28 per cent of respondents aged between 18 and 24 years, backed the idea of an Australian head of state, whereas 60 per cent said no to the idea.”



Believe it or not, it’s the kids who dig our kings and queens. How much of this is down to Wills’ and Kate’s undeniable celeb status (Kate Windsor? Kate Moss? Katy Perry?) or the current popularity of TV shows such as Game of Thrones is immaterial. The point is, from an emotional point of view, an entire generation is perfectly relaxed about our quirky, ‘anachronistic’ constitutional arrangements.

No wonder. Their Majesties represent everything our political classes do not. They offer stability, tradition, respect, star quality and dignity. And what a contrast. More than ever in our history, Australia’s political classes have let us down in the most spectacular fashion. ‘Kevin 07’ was supposedly the people’s prince, but turned out to be a psychopathic princess; a self-obsessed diva. Then came the flame-haired unmarried Queen Julia, a polarizing figure who disappeared in a fog of sleaze and tiresome feminist rantings.

Tony Abbott, a decent human being, still struggles to connect with the public in any emotional way. We have reached the point where the Australian public tolerate rather than venerate their leaders.

Add into this mix the intriguing notion that the next Queen of Denmark is Australian, and the republican mantra that one’s head of state should be home-grown evaporates. What ordinary little girl doesn’t dream of becoming a princess? And Aussie Mary and Pommy Kate have both proved, in their uniquely egalitarian ways, that you can.

When the best that the republican movement can offer up is the idea of popularly electing an uninspiring, politically-motivated head of state, or, as an alternative, allowing our dreary politicians to appoint some technocrat (over a bottle of Grange, perhaps?) it’s hardly surprising the silent majority prefer the magic and majesty of our very own monarchy.

Rowan Dean tweets @rowandean

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  • StephanieJCW

    Oh and if you must discuss the monarchy educate yourself on how it works. The next Queen of Denmark won’t be head of state. She will be married to him.

  • StephanieJCW

    Somebody pass me the sick bucket (and I’m not even a Republican.)

  • plmac

    Strictly speaking, the next Queen of Denmark will be Scottish.

  • Cooper1992

    Long Live The Queen. Long Live The British Monarchy. Long Live England.

    • Kaine

      What exactly does the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg have to do with England?

  • Frank

    Absurdly over-hyped royal visit. The British press has arguably crushed every last drop of mild interest in the royal family in Britain. Perhaps it is part of a plan whereby the royal family dump Britain and re-locate to Aus?

  • Fergus Pickering

    I really would not want my Prime Minister to connect with me in an emotional way. How utterly revolting!

  • Jabez Foodbotham

    Add into this mix the intriguing notion that the next Queen of Denmark is Australian, and the republican mantra that one’s head of state should be home-grown evaporates.

    I don’t see what the birth nationality of the wife of the Dane who will be next head of state of Denmark has to do with the latter argument.

  • you_kid

    We note they are flying UKIP colours.
    Dress and tie match perfectly.

    • Steve

      Which is something you wouldn’t do, would you?

  • john

    Claptrap. The Windsor PR touring party represent everything that’s wrong with an unelected, hereditary monarchy. They contribute nothing of value (at great expense) and simply follow the decades old tradition of meaningless “appearances”.
    Georgie is just the latest attraction – after Kate, Harry, Diana etc. The Aussie’s should detach themsleves from the Windsor pantomime without more ado.

  • John Lea

    Don’t have a problem with the Queen, Charles, William, but my hackles rise when I see those grasping Middletons cashing in. I also think Catherine should have had a job and experienced the world of work before her marriage – to go straight from uni into a life of privilege, without having ever worked is rather wet in my book.

  • hughie

    The Canberra press gallery remains unanimously republican. It’s that whole “bubble” thing. It’s why they hate royal tours. More of it, I say – even if only to just annoy them even more.

  • you_kid

    In a globalised world, representation is becoming an increasingly scripted business. This could go wrong in an instant given that the backbone which is legitimacy is progressively questioned.

    • Fergus Pickering

      What on earth do you mean by those last nine words? I haven’t the faintest idea. Could you put it another way?

      • you_kid

        Some will come, others will go – be prepared.

        • Fergus Pickering

          Much better words, old fruit. Try talking like that in future.The other way is distinctly underwhelming.

  • english_pensioner

    At least the ex-PM of NSW quickly resigned over the scandal, its more than any of our politicians would – look at the trouble it took to get rid of Maria Miller.

  • Martin Adamson

    The key virtue our Royal Family have is that we don’t have to pay attention to them if we don’t want to. No conceivable republican substitute would be unable to resist the temptation to nag, scold, pressure and bully us every minute of every day.

    • Ron Todd

      A bit like Prince Charles then.

      • Rossspeak

        True – but as Martin said – we don’t have to pay any attention to him – I for one don’t – and do hope he stops his blathering and wittering when he succeeds his Mother.

        • terregles2

          Will he be happy to accept that Camilla will not be his queen.?

          • Rossspeak

            I fear not – but also fear that there will be plenty of grovelling sycophants both within Government and the Establishment to back him if he insists Camilla becomes Queen – and would William and/or Harry want to cause both a family rift and constitutional crisis by objecting?
            My main hope is that the Queen lives at least as long as her Mother and delays the day that Charles gains the throne.

  • CharlietheChump

    The alternative would be President Blair and a quadrupling of the Head of States expenditure.

    • Sue Posi-Tory

      Blair never fooled me, but surely much worse is the thought of Cherie as First “Lady”?

      • Ron Todd

        Royalists always do this. Always suggest the alternative to an unelected monarch is an electoral system that would give us somebody almost nobody would actually vote for. I challenge you to find one person not with the surname Blair who would vote for Tony Blair as president.

        • Barakzai

          Unfortunately, it’s likely to be the political parties (and more particularly their financial backers) who’ll sponsor presidential candidates, rather like we’ve seen with PCCs. And it’s as likely that some political has-been WILL be elected, such is the continuing mass tribalism of such campaigns. Contrary to your view, I suspect Blair would garner droves of ‘Oh yeah, I recognise that name’ votes.

        • Colonel Mustard

          Baroness Ashton. Unelected monarch of the EU.

      • Kitty MLB

        Yes indeed, the thought of a president Blair made us appreciate
        our hardworking and loyal Queen even more.

      • CharlietheChump

        Thank you for that thought, I will not rest tonight.

    • Ron Todd

      When deciding how our country should be ruled cost should not be the main consideration.

  • Ron Todd

    Stability is that the same as inertia? In a dynamic changing world we get one unelected family having a monopoly of the top job since the restoration.

    • Fergus Pickering

      Yeah. Great isn’t it?

    • Colonel Mustard

      Thank goodness for small mercies.

    • Noa

      As the monarchy no longer provides, indeed the next monarch now habitually infringes upon the constitutional protections which emerged from the Glorious Revolution, two questions emerge; does it now serve any democratic purpose whatsoever and what steps are now required to restore Parliamentary democracy in Britain?

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