The argument for the retention of the Australian Crown is essentially constitutional. That said, we have been extraordinarily well served in the personal qualities and dedication of our Sovereigns. As we have argued elsewhere, Her Majesty has rendered impeccable service in an indispensable office.
The Heir Apparent to the Australian and the other fifteen Crowns gives every indication that the leading principle which drives his life is service. At an age when many are thinking of retirement – His Royal Highness was born on 14 November, 1948 – he fills his days with good works which have outstanding incomes. His interests seem boundless.
We pointed out last year that too many in the media have long had a policy of presenting Prince Charles in as unflattering a way as possible . And the facts are not going to stop them. So they are loath even to acknowledge the work he does. At an age when many people are contemplating retirement, he has set himself a remarkable target, a target he is achieving. Last year he raised one quarter of a billion dollars for charity.
Last year we mentioned one Wifred Emmanuel-Jones. This is a story which would normally comply with the agenda of our media. Mr. Emmanuel-Jones was born in Jamaica and now lives in the UK. He has moved from the grim surroundings of inner city Birmingham of his childhood to be a farmer in the West Country. He is said to be Britain’s only black farmer, and a successful one at that. In The Spectator of 8 July, 2006, ( the online version is only accessible to subscribers) he writes about his attempt to gain Conservative Party preselection as a candidate for the seat of Chippenham. He tells how the final interview clashed with an invitation to showcase his products at a function to be attended by Prince Charles. He had wanted to clear his diary to concentrate on the preselection, “…yet I want to meet Prince Charles to thank him for helping to fund my Black farmer scholarship; he is one of the few people who has been prepared to support my initiative to give young black people an opportunity to experience working and living in rural Britain. There is nothing for it to do both. I thank Prince Charles, then dash off to Chippenham.”
We mentioned too a defence of the Prince by a Norwegian, Jørn K. Baltzersen, writing in the online journal, LewRockwell.com. (This came to me through the Melbourne based Monarchist Alliance.) His piece, in the 14 July, 2006 edition, was entitled simply, with the American spelling which my word check tries to foist on me even though I regularly reset it : “In Defense of Prince Charles”
He writes that Prince Charles gets a hard time from time to time for speaking his mind -even when he does not do it in public. As an example , he quotes Brendan O'Neill in The Christian Science Monitor of 6 March 2006 who argues that there is a very good reason that royals are prevented from trying to influence opinion,” because we recognize that it’s profoundly undemocratic for a royal to hold sway over any elected parliamentarian.” To which Mr.Baltzersen answers:”I’ll tell you what: that it’s undemocratic is more an argument for it than against it.”
Brendan O’Neill continued his critique, writing that: “Those who encourage Charles to use his "considerable influence" today to challenge the government threaten to undo these historic gains. In effect, they are pushing the prince to do their dirty work – and in the process they grant a future king the kind of political and moral authority over government ministers that we stripped from them, for very good reason, many, many years ago.”
Mr.Baltzersen responds:” What is it these anti-Charles pundits are afraid of? Some vocal corrective? Do they seriously believe that the utterances from the Prince of Wales in any way can be compared with monarchs with real power? Politicians who cannot stand criticism from an alternative authority have only one thing to do: get out of the political kitchen!
Recalling Walter Bagehot ‘s famous dictum that the monarch has the right to be consulted, to encourage, and to warn, Mr. Baltzersen asks if “…the Prince of Wales tells politicians to pull themselves together, is he not exercising the right to warn? The Prince of Wales is not yet monarch, but is he not entitled to practice? He may make statements in public, and the critics of the Prince may have a point when they say the royals are not to state opinions in public, but keep the differences behind the scenes – at least if we stick to the strict "Bagehot monarchy" and the belief in the unifying role of a monarch.’ Jørn K. Baltzersen makes one point we also have been making . The Prince can hardly be held responsible for statements reaching the public when they are not meant for the public. In particular, we might add, when this is done by the media themselves.
Mr.Baltzersen rejects the sort of monarchy which the establishment republicans want here in Australia. If they cannot get their politicians’ republic, they wish to emasculate the Australian Crown. The most recent proponent of this is the former Premier of New South Wales, the Hon. Bob Carr whose views on this were reported on the ACM site on 27 November 2005. They seem identical to Brendan O’Neill’s, who would overthrow Bagehot and abolish the reserve powers: “Royals are meant to turn up for the launching of ships or opening of hospitals merely to smash a bottle of champers on the ship's hull or to cut the ceremonial ribbon.” We know that when politicians say this sort of thing, it is for one reason and one reason only. It is a power grab. While he doesn’t agree with everything Prince Charles says, Baltzersen points out that if the Prince were not to have thoughts of his own, we should really have reason to worry. This is because the politicians would then meet no opposition at all from him as the monarch.
I finished the column with one example of the diligent and worthwhile way Prince Charles operates. It is worth repeating. This was in a report in the London Daily Telegraph of 16 July 2006. This was in a story by Sean Rayment, its Defence Correspondent, under the headline ‘Helicopter shortage puts our troops at risk – what Charles told MoD six months ago.’ The newspaper said that Prince Charles had voiced concerns about the lack of helicopters available to British troops in Afghanistan six months earlier. It reported that the Prince takes his role as Colonel in Chief of the Parachute Regiment seriously. He was said to be "dismayed" that soldiers' lives were still being put at risk because of a lack of military resources. This is the sort of thing an Australian Governor-General would do without any concern that he was behaving improperly. Indeed he would have known that he was behaving properly. Presumably the Prince’s critics think he should not have discreetly made his concern about the helicopters known to the responsible minister. Either these critics do not understand or they do not accept that the Crown, while above politics, remains an important check and balance on the exercise of power in our constitutional system.