It’s that time of the year again. One “story” doing the media rounds is about the name Prince Charles may or may not choose when he succeeds to the throne.
The press seems to have fallen on GeorgeVII, in honour of the much loved King George VI. The press has now decided against the name Charles, for what are clearly spurious reasons.
No matter what Australian Geoffrey Robertson QC thinks, Charles I was murdered. It was a kangaroo court.
Charles II was described as “the Merry Monarch “ but why that should be a barrier I do not know. Apart from being merry, he certainly was witty. Responding to Lord Rochester’s criticism that he "never said a foolish thing, nor ever did a wise one", Charles pointed out that "This is very true: for my words are my own, and my actions are my ministers’."
Four of the past six monarchs have adopted a name different from their first Christian name. Edward VIII, who abdicated in 1936, was known to his family as David. George VI, the father of Queen Elizabeth, was christened Albert.
This practice is not limited to our monarchs. Another example is His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. He was christened Joseph Alois Ratzinger. He now reigns as the spiritual head of the Roman Catholic Church, and also as the Head of State and Sovereign of the Vatican City.
On his election on 19 April, 2005, he chose the name Benedict for these reasons:
"Filled with sentiments of awe and thanksgiving, I wish to speak of why I chose the name Benedict. Firstly, I remember Pope Benedict XV, that courageous prophet of peace, who guided the Church through turbulent times of war. In his footsteps I place my ministry in the service of reconciliation and harmony between peoples. Additionally, I recall Saint Benedict of Norcia, co-patron of Europe, whose life evokes the Christian roots of Europe. I ask him to help us all to hold firm to the centrality of Christ in our Christian life: May Christ always take first place in our thoughts and actions!"
But to return to Prince Charles. The point is that it is only when a new Sovereign ascends the throne, that his or her name is determined. The Sovereign will convene an Accession Council — a meeting of the full Privy Council. This is the only time the full council, which includes ministers and senior bishops, meets. The practice of naming Australians to the Council was weakened when Gough Whitlam chose not to be appointed. Despite a revival under Malcolm Fraser, it appears to have fallen into disuse in this realm- for no good reason, and should be revived .
In any event, the meeting is to recognize the new Sovereign which will of course be a formality, although one eccentric republican Privy Councillor has threatened to challenge the succession. If he does, he will probably be alone and be good humouredly ignored. The name of the Sovereign will be announced in the Proclamation of the new reign
So debate now is pointless, but I suppose it sells news papers.
This did provoke a flurry of republican letter writing, The Australian publishing three on Tuesday, 27 December, 2005. I sent this letter:
Your three correspondents (letters 27/12) demonstrate a peculiar condition common among republicans today. They will not tell us precisely what they want.
It is not as though they have not been given the opportunity. Millions and millions have been spent on this over the last decade, including last year’s pointless senate inquiry.
The fact is the model they chose was rejected in all states in 1999. And just because they were unsuccessful in their attempt to remove those two words, “republic” and “president”, they shouldn’t go on blaming the question.
They certainly won’t persuade the people by denigrating, as Barry Everingham does, the greatly loved King GeorgeVI.
Nor will they succeed by demonising Prince Charles, who just last year, worked to raise around a quarter of a billion dollars for the disadvantaged.
Nor will they succeed by reviving their failed 1999 argument , such as in their latest curious slogan, “A mate for Head of State.”
As your editorial recognizes, the Governor-General travels in foreign parts as our Head of State.
This in no way affects the role and status of our Queen, who has reigned for over half the life of this nation, an unpaid service rendered consistently with great dignity , impartiality and concern for the nation, a service which republicans also recognize.
Until next time,
and a Happy New Year,