February 3

Welcome to Prince ‘nauseating’ says leading republican

The fact that the second in line to the throne, Prince William, is is a very likeable young man, and has dedicated his life to service ensured that his visit to Australia would be a great success.

All of this has curiously come as a surprise to the doyen of republican academicians, Professor Greg Craven, Vice Chancellor of the Australian Catholic University.  Professor Craven, whom I once described as Australia's answer to the Marquis de Talleyrand,  is clearly upset by Australians' welcome to the Prince.  As are a number of republicans, a small and diminishing band in Australia. 

In “Celebrity monarchs rule” in The Australian Financial Review on 1 February 2010, he registers his outrage with his fellow Australians.

Could there be, he asks, anything as “nauseating” as the interest of “ an entire continent lying on its back to have its tummy tickled” by Prince William?

…Australians condemned as " constitutional sl*ts"…

He concludes that Australians are a nation of “constitutional sl*ts."  Really? If he is talking about "passionate" republicans being interested in royalty, surely Professor Craven is aware of the phenomenon we warn our supporters about.  This is never to stand between republicans and visiting royalty, even minor European royalty – otherwise you'll risk being knocked over in the rush.  

 “In a laid back way we will bag the pommy monarchy in pubs and picnics,” Professor Craven claims, although I have never once heard such bagging in pubs “but at the first sign of a princely grin, lie back and think of England.”

This reminds me of the  words of  celebrated communist playwright Bertolt Brecht, who  wrote  in the poem Die Lösung (The Solution) that when the East Germans could take no more from their communist masters and rose up in  1953,  “ the people had thrown away the confidence of the government.”

He asked “…. would it not be easier.. for the government to dissolve the people and elect another?

…Australia's Talleyrand?….

Professor Craven, an eminent constitutional lawyer and university vice chancellor,  is a man who is not ashamed to change his mind or adopt new ideas. During the referendum I was involved in a debate with him in Perth where the republican team included the Federal Attorney General, Daryl Williams QC and Senator Stott Despoja.

I was with the former Governor-General Bill Hayden and former minister andformer  Perth Lord Mayor, Reg Withers.  By that time, Professor Craven had changed from being a strongly committed constitutional monarchist to becoming a supporter of the “least-worst “model proposed by Dick McGarvie and then, to a supporter of the Keating Turnbull model.

So in the debate I mischievously described him as the Australian answer to the Marquis de Talleyrand.

(Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, an aristocrat in holy orders, served in succession the doomed King Louis XVI, various republican regimes during the Reign of Terror, the Emperor Napoleon I, the restored King Louis XVIII and  after the revolution against that King, the “bourgeois” monarch  Louis-Philippe.)

 Rather than being indignant, Professor Craven took my criticism as praise. He continues to embrace ways and means of obtaining republic – provided always that it be conservative.

But from this visit he must know the Australian people are not going to reject the Crown.They are just not interested in a politicians' republic.  So why does he expect  Australians to treat our Royal Family with disdain?



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