The widespread reports that gifts presented by The Queen on her recent visit were  paid for by the Australian government has been challenged by Buckingham Palace, according to a report in the London Daily Telegraph (24/1) by Jonathan Pearlman in Sydney.

  

"The Royal Household pays for gifts given by The Queen – not Australian taxpayers," a Palace spokesperson said.

Apparently the Prime Minister's office  had not checked with the Palace before releasing the story. Even after the correction, the office continued to insist that the cost was borne by the Australian taxpayers. Then Jonathon Pearlman was able to report that the Prime Minister’s office had backed down (“Julia Gillard backs down in Queen gift row”)

So why did the Prime Minister’s office say the Palace had  charged  Australian taxpayers  when this was not true? Why did the Prime Minister’s office tell a reporter this was so? 

Whatever the situation, we should not forget that The Queen has not been  paid for her magnificent services. She receives no superannuation or golden handshake. The same applies to members of the Royal Family

The republican movement’s leaders rushed in to try to use this as a basis for fundamental constitutional change and no doubt to shred our flag. Without bothering to check the facts they went to the media across the nation accusing the Palace of all sorts of things, including a lack of transparency.

Readers of this column will be aware of how the republican movement has been careless with the truth.  Once again, they have egg on their faces.

The truly extraordinary thing is that the movement has for 13 years declined to indicate what changes it is proposing. The whole affair seems to have been concocted in a desperate attempt to negative the great success that the royal tour was at somehow diminish the great esteem in which The Queen is held by most Australians.

So was all this just another republican stunt timed for Australia Day?