Not only is constitutional monarchy unrivalled for providing a stable and effective democratic constitutional system, it often provides substantial financial benefits. “Just days after she celebrated her 35th birthday, Princess Mary of Denmark has a gift for the population of not one but two countries”, reported Joanne Leyland on 7 February 2007 on that very well named website, www.theroyalist.net
Ms. Leyland says that it is estimated that the Princess is the world's most valuable royal in terms of generating trade and promoting tourism. “According to Simon Anholt, an expert in international branding, the former Sydney estate agent is worth literally billions thanks to her ongoing popularity, one which regularly sees her featured as a cover girl on newspaper and magazines worldwide. Explains Mr Anholt: "Currently, Mary has the strongest personality among the royals. The reason for her enduring popularity is because she is "new, has a lead role, has been a lot in the media, and is very beautiful.” “And it also has something to do with how she met her husband", he adds. Ms. Leyland points out the royal marriage united not just two people, but also two nations: Mary's homeland of Australia — the Princess was born in Tasmania — and Denmark, where Mary has become one of the most popular members of the Royal Family. “Ever since Frederik and Mary married in May 2004, having originally met at the Sydney Olympics four years earlier, the glamorous Princess has helped raise the profile of her two homelands. According to experts, the Mary-effect has also seen an increased strengthening of trade links and, in particular, a large surge in exports between Denmark and Australia,” she writes. We can’t imagine any similar benefit flowing from the advent of some republican politician.
Incidentally this website, www.theroyalist.net, is tailor-made for royalists, and will constantly keep them interested. There is a paid section where, for a modest subscription, royal videos and high resolution photographs can be seen. Paying for this service is eminently reasonable – much of this is copyright and the website has paid for the use of this material. This sort of information was once readily available in Australia. I am told that those in charge of the outlets which normally provided came to an almost uniform view during the Keating ascendancy, that a republic was inevitable and that royal news should therefore be curtailed. This recalls the original editorial policy of the London newspaper, The Independent. I understand this was to avoid all Royal news. Reality of course soon came to the editorial office and now The Independent reports such events, even if frugally. But this tendency for the media to give the people what the media think they ought to read, hear or see, and not what they want, is found even more strongly in Australia. Why, for example, did we not see the service for The Queen’s eightieth birthday, or Trooping the Colour, something shown more than once on German TV? It could not be lack of interest – royal programmes can rate very well. It could not be relevance – after all, we are talking about The Queen of Australia and the Crown, the nation’s oldest institution. No. Media managers are limiting us to that material they think we ought to see and excluding anything they think we ought not to see.
Michael Duffy referred to this tendency in The Sydney Morning Herald on 3 March 2007 when he noted that the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's new guidelines on objectivity could have a significant impact on its content. At present, he suggests, you can understand why some believe such issues as the republic are political priorities. This is because their view of the world comes through the ABC. As a result, he says, they inhabit a “parallel cultural universe” to most Australians, making it difficult for them to understand the electorate. He thinks this could change with the new guidelines. Will this extend to management recognition of the fact that programmes about royalty do rate? On this it would of course be a mistake to assume all of the many supporters of our constitutional monarchy are also avid royalists. Constitutional monarchists, royalists or not, rejoice in the proven strength of our constitutional system, and the difficulty, or indeed, the impossibility of grafting a republic on to it without causing irreparable damage. While not all are royalists, this interest in royalty extends to those in the general public who rarely think about our constitutional system. In addition, there is the curious phenomenon of those republicans who are fascinated by all things royal. The trained observer will find them in the most unlikely places, sometimes even those from the most ferocious republican coven. On finding one particular example of this phenomenon in the Senate, Senator Boswell threatened: "Mate – you’re busted! I'm going to report you to Republic HQ,"(see this column, 10 December, 2005.) Accordingly, I often warn colleagues never, ever, to stand between royalty and republicans, especially the Sydney or Melbourne variety. If you do, you are likely to be knocked over in the rush.
The phenomenon of the royalist obsessed republican reminds me of the husband and wife psychiatrists in the celebrated but regrettably short BBC series, Fawlty Towers. Coming back to the hotel late one night, they turned the light on to find Basil Fawlty in his underwear, wielding a frying pan, astride a prone and unconscious Manuel, the unfortunate waiter from Barcelona. The wife observes, with academic objectivity, as she walks by the figures on the floor: “I think there’s a thesis in that”. The husband adds, dryly:” I would say a whole conference”.
Republicans can be such fun.