“He salutes the Chief. He won’t bow to Monarch,” proclaimed the headline in The Adelaide Advertiser of 9 April 9, 2008 over a large photograph of the Prime Minister being received by The Queen.
Given his statement on debate about some sort of a republic, it was to be expected that the media would closely examine the beginning of the audience. As the content of the audience remains confidential, all eyes were on the Prime Minister’s entry.
The Advertiser also had two smaller photographs of Mr Rudd pausing as his presence is announced, and then entering the room and extending his hand to The Queen. The caption is labelled “ETIQUETTE.”
In the meantime the official Court Circular as reported in The Times blandly reported the audience with these words : ”Windsor Castle. 7th April, 2008. The Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Australia (the Hon Kevin Rudd MP) and Ms Thérèse Rein were received by The Queen this morning. “
“One gets a restrained handshake… and the other a "cheeky" salute,” commented Maria Moscaritolo.
“Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was true to his republican colours when he met The Queen,” she continues, reporting that he declined to offer the traditional bow of the head.
Approached about this, the Convener of ACM’s South Australian State Division, Dr David Phillips said "I would expect Australia's Prime Minister, as an experienced diplomat, to observe appropriate courtesies when meeting royalty of any country."
Ms. Moscaritolo reports that television footage shows Mr Rudd pausing in the doorway to be formally introduced and “quickly jerking his head in a small nod” as he smiles and starts to walk towards the Queen. They shake hands.
She says the PM’s s office maintains the Prime Minister bowed.
“But the blink-and-you miss- it nod appears more of a reflexive ‘yep, that's me’ than the deliberate bow of the head that traditional protocol dictates,” says Ms. Moscaritolo.
..salutes and courtesy …
Ms. Moscaritolo points out all of this follows Mr. Rudd’s “casual yet controversial” salute to U.S.President George W. Bush at the NATO summit. Ms Moscaritolo says Mr Rudd insists was only a joke borne of his "slightly quirky sense of humour".
She says a bow to royalty is not obligatory but is offered regularly by visiting dignitaries, diplomats, and heads of state.
Ladies may curtsy, as Mme. Sarkozy did so elegantly and graciously when she and the President of France met The Queen. On the other hand Mrs Keating did not when she was presented to The Queen. Mrs Whitlam did.
Mr Rudd did invite this attention. It is easy to succumb to press questioning –they do want a headline.
I was called by a quite prominent Australian of Asian origin who has not told me where he stands on the constitutional debate.
His considered comment was this: “It was discourteous of Mr Rudd to raise republicanism just before his audience with the Sovereign. I am disappointed- after all he was a diplomat.”