The republican movement is once more showing signs of desperation. And it is over something which is of utterly no constitutional relevance to Australia.
Australians may forget how low the republican movement stooped in their 1999 campaign. They tried the same stunt then and they tried it when Prince Charles’s marriage to Camilla Parker Bowles was announced.
While the constitutional monarchists took the high ground in 1999 and campaigned only on constitutional issues, eschewing reliance on the standing and respect The Queen justifiably enjoys, the republican movement devised a mantra that ACM's theme was “Don’t mention The Queen”.
This didn’t work.
There was no surge of support to the Yes case.
…down in the gutter: from 1999 to 2005 to 2010…
So the republicans devised a second mantra in 1999.
This time they did it from the gutter.
This was often intoned by leading ARM speakers, including those who had access to the media.
This was the mantra, “A No vote is a vote for King Charles and Queen Camilla!”
They often used this, to their shame, with an extremely unflattering caricature of Charles and Camilla, robed and wearing crowns. This was circualted widely – the ARM was flush with funds to undertake such guerilla campaigns.
But this didn’t work. It didn't work when the ARM revived it for Prince Charles' marriage in 2005 And it won’t work for Prince William's wedding.
The 2005 and now 2010 variations of the odious 1999 campaign depend on two streams of pure unadulterated sleaze.
The first is the denigration of the Prince, particularly from those sections of the British media which excel at this.The Prince and indeed, members of the Royal Family generally, now live in a defamation-free zone. The media say things about him they would not dare say about anyone else. Any rumour, untruth, or downright and disgusting lie is published, provided it damages the Prince or other members of the Royal family.
The republican movement here outsource this to a “republican royal watcher” who specialises in such filth. But the Prince’s real story is different from the one many in the media prefer.
After his distinguished service in the Navy, the Prince is approaching an age when many are contemplating retirement. But he has thrown himself into his interests and his work, and each year raises around one quarter of a billion dollars for charities, mainly for disadvantaged youth in the UK and poorer Commonwealth countries.
He was an environmentalist longl before it became fashionable. He is a world leader in matters environmental. Not everyone will agree with every position he takes, but he does so with courage and conviction. And he gets things done. As Heir Apparent to the throne, Australians may feel proud of the Prince who spent some part of his formative years here.
…world wide influence…
The world wide influence of Prince Charles was then demonstrated during the 2009 Group of 20 meeting in London. This was when he called – and chaired – a crucial meeting to support one of his many projects, The Prince’s Rain Forest Project.
This is about emergency action to cut the deforestation of the rain forests. Just look at the list of those who came, and ask who else could have done this. The participants included the Indonesian President, the World Bank President, the German Chancellor, the Japanese, Italian, Australian, Guyanese, and Norwegian Prime Ministers, the President of the European Union Commission, Hilary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, the British Foreign Secretary and the Brazilian Foreign Minister.
Encouraged by the Prince, they agreed to establish an expert-level international working group to provide interim emergency funding to help what are called the “Rainforest Nations”.
The purpose is to “make the trees worth more alive than dead” before other international financing mechanisms take effect. Whether or not you believe in anthropogenic global warming, few would dissent from the need to preserve the world’s remaining rain forests.
If he were someone else, someone with whom the media elites could identify, and raised a fraction of this, or made some gesture of mourning, or said something nice about the poor, he would risk the sort of secular canonisation which the media gave, for example, to Sir William Deane when they believed he was criticising the Howard Government – which if he had, would have been unconstitutional
.But this news about the Prince is kept very quiet indeed. It just does not fit with the image of the “dysfunctional” – their mot du jour – family and the “grumpy” old man they are trying to portray.
…attacks on Duchess…
In the same vein as the reprehensible 1999 mantra, the second element of the1999, 2005 and 2010 campaigns is based on the entirely false proposition, announced with almost breathless glee by the republican movement, that Camilla Parker Bowles will at some time in the future become Queen of Australia.
Of course none of us knows the future, and The Queen gives every indication that she is as healthy as her late, and greatly loved, mother was.
And as people have seen see more of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall as she emerged from the shadows as Prince Charles’ wife, they have l come to appreciate her qualities. She is, on all reliable information, a dignified, down-to-earth, unaffected, good humoured and reserved lady, who would never think of running off to the press with stories. And while she will be received warmly here, she will never become Queen of Australia.
This is for the elementary constitutional fact that just as Prince Philip is not King, and Prince Albert was not King, the wife of a King does not become the Sovereign, the Queen Regnant.
Only a reigning Queen can be that. As Prince Charles' wife on his accession, the courtesy title 'Queen Consort' could be used. Instead it has been announced that she will in fact be known as the 'Princess Consort'.
This will be a matter for the next King, no doubt advised by his ministers. There would be no need to consult the Realms, as the consort has no formal position in their systems of government.
Some argue legislation would be needed. The better argument, in my view, is that it is clearly a matter which falls under the Royal Prerogative where legislation is not necessary.
The Duchess is of course entitled to use any of her names and titles as she wishes. If the title Princess Consort is conferred on her, she may prefer to use that.
In the same way, the Governor of New South Wales is not known by the courtesy title which comes from her marriage to Sir Nicholas Shehadie, that is Lady Shehadie.
Instead, Her Excellency is known as Professor Marie Bashir.If on her marriage, Charles’ wife prefers to be known as the Duchess of Cornwall, rather than the Princess of Wales, and on Charles’ accession, as Princess Consort, and that is conferred, why shouldn’t she?
If the ARM were so ill-advised as to seek an order from a court that she not call herself Queen of Australia, they would undoubtedly receive short shrift.
As one caller on talk-back radio said when their marriage was announced, “They are entitled to a little happiness in their lives too”.
Most Australians would agree with that and wish them well.
The ARM could not make this an issue in 1999, and they failed in their attempt to revive it in 2005. They will fail again in their attempts, even if it is embellished with myths from their republican royal watcher’s filth bin.
Now because of an answer Prince Charles gave recently in a US television interview, Australia’s republican movement is cock-a–hoop about the prospects of success in a reviveal of this gutter campaign.
In reply to a question thrown in in an interview about the environment as to whether Camilla would become Queen (consort), the Prince, obviously surprised by the insertion of this subject, said ..” “Conceivably, that could be.”
The Prince was no doubt speaking of her status and not necessarily of the precise title to be used.
Nothing more should be read into this.But the republicans think that from this storm in a teacup they they have at last found that elusive silver bullet.
This is the silver bullet they dream of , the one which will relieve them from being obliged to actually work out what changes to the Constitution and to the flag they want.
They constantly refuse to reveal them to and defend them before a mainly totally disinterested nation
Instead of wheeling out their favourite oxymoronic republican royal watcher to dig deep into his barrel of invented 'royal scandals', the republican movement must explain why the taxpayer, having paid millions and millions to allow them to test their preferred model at the referendum where it was rejected in every state, should spend even more now.