Tuesday, 9 June 2020

The Duke of Edinburgh's 99th Birthday

Just released by the Palace, a new photograph of  H.R.H. Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, with H. M. The Queen to mark his 99th birthday, on Wednesday. 

The photography was taken at Windsor Castle last week. 

Friday, 13 March 2020

"We saw that enduring spirit of Aussie ‘mateship’"

A speech by HRH The Prince of Wales at a Reception and Dinner for the Australian Bushfires Appeal

The Prince of Wales is attending a dinner in aid of the Australian bushfire relief and recovery effort, hosted by The Lord Mayor of the Ccity of London. 

If I may say so ladies and gentlemen, it is particularly heart-warming to see so many of you gathered here this evening, and to know how determined you are to help those who were so cruelly affected by the catastrophic bushfires in Australia recently.  I was most touched to have been invited to join you for this occasion and to have an opportunity to express, once again, just how much my family and I care about what I can only imagine must have seemed like an apocalyptic vision of Hell that the Australian people have been through over these past, desperately trying, few months. 
Like all of you, I was profoundly shocked by the extent and intensity of the fires which swept Australia this Summer.  They affected an area, as you’ll know better than I, larger than Scotland, and even the most seasoned firefighters were taken aback by their ferocity.  These terrifying fires robbed people of their lives, their loved ones, and their property; driving them from their homes while, at the same time, wreaking untold devastation on Australia’s unique and precious wildlife.  The scale of the loss is as appalling as it is heart-breaking and it is dreadful to think of the suffering that so many Australians have had to endure. 
I must say, I was deeply moved by the letters my family and I received from Australians describing the dreadful scenes they witnessed.  One lady from New South Wales described how, driving through the Snowy Mountains near Canberra, she saw: “Hundreds and hundreds of miles of burnt trees – utter devastation everywhere. The one thing that I noticed” she went on, “was the silence… no birdsong of any type.  My heart was broken at the sights we saw while driving through each small hamlet.”
Amidst the horror and the sorrow, I have, above all, felt the greatest possible sense of admiration for the extraordinary determination and resilience of the Australian people.  The manner in which firefighters and other emergency services, as well as countless thousands of volunteers, in their own unique, Antipodean way, have risked their lives to defend neighbour and stranger alike, represents, it seems to me, the very essence of the Australian character.
At times we saw that enduring spirit of Aussie ‘mateship’ tested by exhaustion, by the greatest pressure and by the gravest danger.  It is not surprising that the firies’ helmet now stands alongside the diggers’ slouch hat as a powerful symbol of the courage, resilience and generosity for which Australians are renowned.   At the very worst of times, we saw the very best of Australia – and knowing the Aussies, as I do after fifty-four years, that makes me very proud.
The dividend of that remarkable resilience is already clear.  I have read such heartening reports of recovery in so many of the fire-affected communities; and I have been greatly encouraged by plans to restore some of the precious habitats that have been lost and by the fact that the Australian Government has provided $2 billion to the National Bushfire Recovery Fund to kick-start recovery and rebuilding, and to help communities and businesses get back on their feet. 
However, the overriding, fundamental challenge remains.  Tragically and terrifyingly, these bushfires are becoming ever more frequent and more fierce as temperatures rise, breaking records even in Australia’s capital cities, with a truly alarming 48.9°c in the Sydney suburb of Penrith in early January, just as we saw 46.6°c in Adelaide last year.  Longer, hotter, drier summers are the new reality with which Australia must contend.  And so, while we pray that the devastation of this past bushfire season will not be seen again, we must, it troubles me to say, be prepared that it may be very likely repeated and that the resilience of the Australian people will continue to be tested in an unprecedented way… 
Through all of this, I can only hope that Australians are able to draw strength from knowing just how much so many people around the world care about their situation.  Thoughts and prayers are important, of course, but they only go so far: it has mattered even more that so many friends of Australia, particularly here in the United Kingdom, have been so generous in donating to charities and bushfire recovery causes.
My Prince’s Trust Australia is playing its own small part by working with a range of stakeholders including the Kangaroo Island Council, and Shane Fitzsimmons, Commissioner of the New South Wales Rural Fire Service, on a medium and long-term response to the bushfires.  This includes helping with the design and rebuilding of a community centre in South Australia which, I hope, might offer a useful blueprint for other communities working so hard to rebuild. 
I do know, Ladies and Gentlemen, just how much each of you is doing to support those Australian communities as they recover from the bushfires or, indeed, as we are discovering with ever-greater extremes in weather patterns,  those who are now having to contend with serious flooding.  I am sure that tonight’s dinner will make a very significant contribution to all these efforts. 
Now, I am only too aware that so many of you feel the same deep affection for Australia and her people that I have always felt, and which is now etched into my sub-conscious.  And so I can only thank you again ladies and gentlemen, for your tremendous generosity and for the friendship and solidarity you have shown to those who have borne so much.

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

Message from HRH The Prince of Wales to the people of Australia



Her Majesty The Queen has sent a message of condolence to the Governor General of Australia, Governor of New South Wales, Governor of Queensland, and Governor of Victoria and to all Australians.

Saturday, 4 January 2020

The Queen and three future Kings


The Queen is celebrating the start of the new year with a new portrait of herself and her three heirs.

The photograph of Her Majesty alongside the Prince of Wales, Duke of Cambridge and Prince George was taken in Buckingham Palace's throne room shortly before Christmas.

The Queen stands at the front of the new image in a white dress accessorised with a blue brooch and holding one of her iconic handbags.

Prince George, in tartan trousers and a white shirt, and Prince Charles - in a navy pinstripe suit - are stood together on a red-carpeted step.

Prince William stands behind his father, son and grandmother, smiling at the back of the picture in a dark suit and navy blue tie.

This is only the second time that a portrait of all four royals together has been issued.

A portrait in 2016 of The Queen and her three heirs
The first was released in April 2016 to mark the Queen's 90th birthday, with the picture then printed on commemorative stamps.

The youngest royal's elevated position in the new portrait is reminiscent of the 2016 photo, when then-two-year-old Prince George stood next to his great-grandmother on a blue and black step, holding the hand of his father, Prince William.

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

The Defeat of the Republic Referendum 20 Years Ago



The 6th November marks the 20th anniversary of the failed republic referendum of 1999. It was the accumulation of around eight years of hard campaigning essentially on a daily basis and was a learning curve for all, even for those lawyers involved.

Nearly all of the campaigners were amateurs. Even the politicians had no expertise in a referendum proposing changes as drastic as this. The last time there were referendums was in 1988 when the Hawke government submitted four proposals to the people. These four were on parliamentary terms, fair elections, local government and rights and freedoms, all of which were rejected by the people and all of which were totally unlike the republic referendum which, in itself, required nearly 70 changes to the Constitution.

Campaigning was essentially based along Liberal for the No case and Labor for the Yes case. Whilst the Yes case also had a number of senior Liberals actively involved, the No case comprised only token Labor identities. This was totally at odds with the eventual vote when, as is estimated, one third of Labor voters voted No to a republic.

The Australian Monarchist League, which did not form a part of the official No case and did not share in any of the government funding, campaigned, using its own resources, predominantly in the outer suburban typically Labor electorates, in the country areas and in the smaller states like Tasmania, which seemed to have been written off, but all of which resulted in an overwhelming No vote as opposed to the city Liberal electorates which voted Yes.

However, it was the vote of traditional Labor that swung the pendulum against a republic. Traditional Labor have always been deeply conservative in the traditional sense. Unlike so many trendy Liberals, they honour the Queen and respect our constitutional system of governance. In the 1990s, we knew this because a significant proportion of our supporters were – and still are - Labor voters.

The nationwide vote in the 1999 referendum was 54.87% No (against the republic) which may not seem much but if a political party received that vote in a general election, it could well result in winning 72% of all electorates. It is rare that a political party receives over 50% of the total primary votes cast in any general election.

Furthermore, all six states voted No as did the Northern Territory. Only the Australian Capital Territory voted Yes, but as a territory it did not qualify as a state.

Since 1999, republicans have continued to mount campaigns and the Australian Monarchist League has continued to oppose them whilst, at the same time, promoting the benefits and security of our system of constitutional monarchy.

To celebrate the anniversary of the defeat of the republic referendum, the Australian Monarchist League is not holding a conference with lengthy speeches bragging about the victory because the defeat of the referendum was not really due to monarchists but more to the wisdom of the people who, resiling against such massive change, opted to place their trust in the Queen.

Instead, we are holding a dinner on a tall ship sailing around Sydney Harbour on Thursday the 14th of November, enjoying the fact that we remain a constitutional monarchy.

Philip Benwell
National Chair
Australian Monarchist League

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

The Queen and her Australian representative


Queen Elizabeth II, The Queen of Australia, held an audience with The Governor-General designate of Australia, General the Honourable David Hurley today at Buckingham Palace. The Duke of Cambridge and Mrs Hurley were also present.

The Governor-General designate of Australia , General David John Hurley, AC, DSC, FTSE (born 26th August, 1953) is a former senior officer in the Australian Army and was the 38th Governor of New South Wales from 2014 to 2019. Assuming office on 28th June, 2019.

Friday, 31 May 2019

Shorten's republic plans brought no victory



The vote in this general election was not so much anti-Labor but rather anti-Shorten. This is because Bill Shorten announced many changes to the status quo.

Any change, however minor is bound to affect some people and, in this election, there were so many proposed changes that it was obvious that a great number would be voting against Labor.

One of the major changes which rarely had a mention was the undertaking by Bill Shorten to hold a plebiscite on a republic. It was only briefly mentioned because the Labor Party knew that a republic would split the vote.

The Australian Monarchist League campaigned extensively against Shorten-Republic-Labor. We produced several videos (links here: https://www.dropbox.com/preview/SHORTEN-DANGER%20VIDEO%201.mp4?role=personal
 https://www.dropbox.com/preview/SHORTEN%20DANGER%20-%202.mp4?role=personal ) which were spread far and wide amongst our support base, which numbers many thousands, and we had people on polling booths handing out ‘Put Shorten-Republic Last’ how to vote cards.

Our membership comprises people of varying political allegiances, including traditional Labor. In 1999 it is estimated that one third of Labor voters voted against the republic. These are the people who rejected the Shorten proposals. These are the people, amongst others, responsible for the return of the Morrison government.

Philip Benwell

Australian Monarchist League