Originally published in Family World News, June 2019, page 1
A British television network once asked me to record an interview, not to be broadcast immediately, but to be put into their vaults to be used at the end of the reign.
The interviewer’s first question was why I supported the constitutional monarchy.
“For three reasons,” I replied.
“First, I have more than once sworn the Oath of Allegiance to the Queen. Second, constitutional monarchy is one of the most successful forms of government the world has ever known. Third, the extraordinary service of the Queen”.
As to constitutional monarchy, in the early days after the formation of the Australian Republican Movement, I was invited to debate a republican at an inner-city Liberal Party Branch. Unlike most party meetings which are held in modest settings, this was a sit-down dinner in an elegant hotel.
During the debate, I made the point that a good proportion of the world’s most successful countries are constitutional monarchies. This, in the party founded by Sir Robert Gordon Menzies, was met with shrieks of derision and laughter which continued for some time. I then read out the top ten of the world’s most wealthy, most healthy and best educated countries as found by the UN, pointing out that constitutional monarchies were significantly over-represented in this group. The laughter subsided into a petulant silence.
As to the Queen, we can judge our Sovereign by comparing what she has promised with what she has done. And that not only by her solemn Coronation Oath but also in the promise made to the Commonwealth on her 21st birthday:
“I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of the great Imperial family to which we all belong“
In her Christmas Message to the Commonwealth in 2000, Her Majesty said simply but clearly:
“For me the teachings of Christ and my own personal accountability before God provide a framework in which I try to live my life.”
Both of these statements describe accurately the way the Queen has acted throughout her life, a monarch of but also a servant to her people.
It is an honour and it is a duty of all Australians, who as citizens are all in allegiance to the Queen, to recognize and support the Crown in our constitutional system.
This support was declared when the people of the several Australian states or then colonies, ‘humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God, agreed to unite in an indissoluble Federal Commonwealth under the Crown…’. This support was declared again in the 1999 referendum when, in a landslide, Australians nationally and in every State rejected the Keating-Turnbull politicians’ republic.
The most visible testament to that support is the annual celebration of the Queen’s Birthday, the oldest public holiday in Australia.
Consistent with that annual celebration we should at all times and not just on the Queen’s Birthday, honour the Crown in the public life of Australia, resisting all attempts to remove the respect and recognition properly due.
Accordingly we should support the Crown whenever it is under attack, which is ACM’s mission as the oldest and largest monarchist organisation in Australia and the one which led the No Case in 1999.
When the Governor of New South Wales, the holder of the oldest office in the nation, was suddenly evicted from Government House by Premier Carr in 1996, ACM called a demonstration of over 20,000 people in one of the largest and most peaceful protests Sydney had seen for many years. This was also by far the largest demonstration, republican or monarchist, in the many years of the republican debate. Indeed, former Prime Minister Paul Keating said the reaction to the expulsion was the reason why Labor lost the 1996 federal election. With the strong support within Parliament of the Reverend the Honorable Fred Nile, ACM maintained a resolute campaign until the Governor was eventually restored to Government House.
While the 1984 Proclamation of the National Anthem made God Save The Queen the Australian Royal Anthem to be played in the presence of the Queen or a member of the Royal Family, ACM has always stressed the intent of the Proclamation that Australians are always free to play this when they wished to honour the Queen.
But in 2006 the organizers of the Melbourne Commonwealth Games decided that only a few bars of God Save The Queen would be sung in a Happy Birthday Medley. ACM condemned this insult to the Queen as a breach of law and protocol.
Young ACM supporters handed out pamphlets at the Opening Ceremony and at the appropriate moment stood and led the 80,000 present in joining them and singing the full Royal Anthem. The Queen stood to accept this, thus rebuffing the republicans and their one monarchist ally.
So celebrate the Queen’s Birthday while honouring the Crown throughout the year.
[David Flint, Emeritus Professor of Law, is National Convenor of Australians for Constitutional Monarchy]