Tuesday 24 February 2009

And the winner is ...
Princess Anne!

Did you hear the sigh of relief? It came from the republican corner. And it heaved, when the Princess Royal left Australia. The republicans have the scene to themselves again. Princess Anne’s stay in Australia was a success. Or, as The HeraldSun wrote: Princess Anne proves a winner!

The Princess Royal spent a scorching summer day touring the small community of Wandong, north of Melbourne, where one in ten homes were lost to the Black Saturday bush fires.

After visiting the local Country Fire Authority station, the Wandong Primary School and the community relief centre Princess Anne’s spokeswoman Ailsa Anderson announced the personal donation would be made upon her return to Britain.

The success of this royal visit explains why there are not as many stays of our Royal Family as could be wished. While republicans claim: “They aren’t interested in Australia”, the Victorian bushfires and the response of The Queen of Australia, Prince Charles and Princess Anne as well as other royals prove the opposite.

Therefore it should be recalled that they do not come uninvited. If we want to see them more often on our shores, politicians must send out invitations. As we all know, politicians like to be treated like stars, quite rightly they consider the royals a crowd puller, taking away the attraction from politicians.

Canadian Constitutional Monarchy
The Constitutional Monarchy in Canada is facing a similar problem. On 22nd February 2009 The Globe & Mail wrote:

"The Harper government has rebuffed efforts to have the Prince of Wales visit Canada. The same, of course, applies to the Queen.

"The Canadian government in fact has shown much less enthusiasm for visits by Canada's current head of state and her heir apparent than has the republic to the south. The Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, the Mayor of Quebec City, and the province of Nova Scotia have all asked Ottawa to invite the Queen in recent years, and all were turned down by Canadian Heritage.

"The Globe on Saturday reported that The Prince of Wales, and various organizations he is associated with, have also been seeking permission to undertake a visit, and once again the requests have been shelved. The situation is such that the Liberal era of Jean Chrétien is now remembered by loyalists as a golden age for the Canadian Crown."

Of course the problem is the same here as well as on the other side of the Pacific Ocean. Politicians think they must appear in every evening news with a feel good story. Instead they fail to guess that it is more their successful governing that will convince people to vote for them, but not their constantly children kissing or hugging.

Chinese Constitutional Monarchy?
It is interesting that Daniel A. Bell, professor of political theory at Tsinghua University in Beijing, published in The New York Times of 20th February 2009 a summary of a discussion with his students on President Obama. It turned out they had a better sense how a nation should be governed than most Australian politicians:

"We discussed, only half-jokingly, the possibility that China should adopt some form of constitutional monarchy, so that the public could project its emotions on a symbolic leader while evaluating the de facto political leader’s performance more rationally."

But the Australian politicians never learn from their mistakes, nevertheless an invitation to The Prince of Wales should be sent out as soon as possible.

Taking the Canadian example, I'd like to know, how often did The Queen or Prince Charles ask to come to Australia and an invitation was not forthcoming?

Sunday 22 February 2009

The Princess Royal at the Melbourne memorial service

Princess Anne attended the memorial service to honour the hundreds of people who lost their lives in Victoria's bushfires on behalf of the Queen of Australia.

The Princess Royal read a message written by the Queen of Australia soon after the bushfires occurred.

"Although a little daunted, when faced with the scale of loss, and the physical and mental impact that these bushfires have made and are still making for Victoria, individuals and towns have responded with resilience, ingenuity, courage and selflessness to situations that were changing at terrifying speed," Princes Anne said.

Princess Anne added her own condolences to the bushfire victims, and said she would visit some of the affected areas tomorrow.

"I would particularly thank all those involved in whatever capacity, in the emergency services and in the voluntary organisations," she said.

Saturday 21 February 2009

Victorian Bushfires Memorial Service

20 February 2009

The Princess Royal will visit areas affected by the Victorian Bushfires

The Princess Royal will undertake a series of engagements in Victoria after attending, and speaking, at the Victorian Bushfires Memorial Service in Melbourne this Sunday (22nd February), where she is representing The Queen.

Following the service, Her Royal Highness will visit the Incident Emergency Control Centre in East Melbourne, where she will tour the building and be briefed by Chief Fire Officer Ewan Waller.

She will then be guest of honour at a reception hosted by the Governor of Victoria, Professor David de Kretser AC, at Government House, where she will also speak briefly.

The following day The Princess will travel around the fire affected area of Wandong before returning to the UK.

The Queen sent a message of condolence to the people of Australia on 8th February, expressing her deep sympathy to the many who lost their lives and their homes in the disaster.

The Queen also made a personal donation to the Australian Red Cross Appeal last week. The Prince of Wales personally offered his condolences to the victims of the tragedy at a Reception for the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

The Duke of Edinburgh officially opened the Book of Condolence at the Australian High Commission in London yesterday. It will be open to the public this weekend.

Friday 20 February 2009

Victorian Premier John Brumby: "The Queen requested daily updates on the bushfires"

I had not thought that a Victorian politician could take me by surprise. But there's always an exception from the rule.

When John Brumby explained the preparations in Melbourne for the national memorial service for the victims of the devastating bush fires in Victoria, he said: "The Queen and Her family had been receiving daily updates from our emergency services units here in Victoria. Like every day they've been wanting [them]."

Premier Brumby said the first sentence in today's Channel Nine's evening news, both sentences could be heard in Channel Ten's evening news. If the ABC used the opportunity to report on Her Majesty's interest in the devastating fires in Victoria must remain a mystery - I had no time to watch ABC's evening news. But considering the ABC's efforts to ignore our Royal Family (for her visit to Melbourne in 2006 ABC Victoria spared 13 seconds) I would not be surprised, if John Brumby was silenced on this topic.

Thursday 19 February 2009

Princess Anne will be at the national memorial service in Melbourne

Princess Anne will cancel other engagements to personally represent her mother, the Queen of Australia, in Melbourne at a national memorial service for the victims of the devastating bush fires in Victoria, in which at least 200 people were killed and over 1800 houses destroyed.

The Princess Royal, will attend a service to be held at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne on Sunday, 22nd February at 11.00 am as part of the national day of mourning. Besides The Princess Royal the official party will include the Viceroys, government and opposition leaders, and senior judiciary.

The news of Her Royal Highness trip to Australia was announced on 18th February by a Buckingham Palace spokeswoman: "The Princess Royal will be attending the memorial service on Sunday representing the Queen in Melbourne. The following day she will visit areas affected by the fire." It is yet not known which communities Princess Anne would visit.

As reported here, The Queen has made a private donation to the fund-raising appeal for victims of the bushfires in Australia, Her Majesty expressing her deep concern over the bushfires which have ravaged Victoria. "I was shocked and saddened to learn of the terrible toll being exacted by the fires this weekend," The Queen said.

"I send my heartfelt condolences to the families of all those who have died and my deep sympathy to the many that have lost their homes in this disaster.

"On so dreadful an occasion as this for Australia, the firefighters and other emergency services have been making extraordinary efforts to contain the situation and tend to those who have been injured."

Saturday 14 February 2009

"It is Prince Charles's duty to go to Australia"

"The country has been hit by disaster. This is the moment for a visit that could stop the slide towards republicanism" writes Matthew Parris in The Times.

"Fast-track the protocol and security; ignore advice that you would get in the way; brush off the Sir Humphreys who recommend you wait until the immediate emergency is over. If the diary's already full, clear it.

"Never mind the Governor-General: only a stand-in anyway. If you're overwhelmed by official obstruction, threaten a private visit. Buy your own ticket if you must. But go. Just go. Today. Tomorrow. Monday. If your insistence raises eyebrows, causes a rumpus, even a stink, so much the better. That's the point."
Prince Charles holds a reception for The Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia

The Prince of Wales held a reception at Clarence House to recognise supporters of The Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia.

The service provides emergency and primary health care to people who live, work and travel in remote areas of Australia, using a fleet of 50 aircraft.

The Prince is the Patron of RFDS (Friends in the UK), a charity which has raised almost £3 million for the service.

Rolf Harris, Jason Donovan and Germaine Greer were among the guests at the reception.

The Prince of Wales spoke at the reception to express his sympathy for the victims of the "horrors" of the Australian bush fires.

The country's worst wildfire disaster has killed at least 181 people in the state of Victoria in the south east.

"Both my wife and I were so horrified along with so many other people in this country by the extent of the bush fires because I know every year Australia suffers from dreadful events, but this year somehow it's even more dreadful.

"We just wanted people to know how deeply we feel for all those families who have suffered so terribly.

"The sheer extent of the horrors is hard to comprehend I think to people who don't live in Australia or know Australia."

The Prince said for him "the tragedy is even worse" because he remembered the names of the areas affected from when he was at school in Australia in 1966.

He also praised the work done by firefighters and said he hoped the fires would stop soon.

"I don't quite know how to express enough sympathy, how much we feel for people. I pray that soon the situation will revert to something more manageable.

"All those emergency services and all the people who work so incredibly hard to try and deal with these sorts of crises deserve our gratitude and appreciation."

Entertainer Harris, 78, said: "It's just scary to contemplate. I can't imagine all the little kids being caught and killed in the fire, and the numbers are just overwhelming.

"It is as scary as anything to think of huge townships totally wiped out, gone."

Wednesday 11 February 2009

Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia, helps wildfire victims

Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia, is to make a private donation to the fund-raising appeal for victims of the wildfires in Australia, reported the BBC.

Buckingham Palace has announced that the Monarch, who is not only Australia's Sovereign, but also Queen of Victoria, will give an unspecified sum to the Victorian Bushfire Fund.

The fund has been launched by the Australian Red Cross alongside the state Premier of Victoria, John Brumby, and the federal government.

It has so far raised more than $31m.

Tuesday 10 February 2009

The Age remembered Princess Margaret Rose

Today The Age remembered the death of Princess Margaret, the Queen’s younger sister, who died 9th February 2002 aged 71. The Age did this not in a two column article, which is understandable in these difficult times in Victoria. Therefore this blog gives credit to a royal life that is underrated.
When Princess Margaret Rose was born on 21st August 1930 at Glamis Castle in Perthshire, she was fourth in line of succession to the throne.

Princess Margaret was the first royal baby in direct line to the throne to have been born in Scotland for 300 years. Her grandfather, King George V, was still very much alive, as was his eldest son, Margaret's Uncle David, destined to be King Edward VIII. Her father, King George VI was proud of his elder girl, but Margaret "brought delight into his life".

Though there were four years between them, the sisters were almost like twins - an exclusive and indissoluble team. But that rapidly began to change. At their father's coronation, Elizabeth had a train and Margaret did not.

Her first overseas engagement on behalf of her father, led her 1948 to the Netherlands, where she attended the proclamation of the new Dutch Queen Juliana. Male students from the local university were so smitten that they serenaded her from a boat on the canal beneath her hotel-room windows.

By 1948, her sister Elizabeth was not only a married woman but a mother, too. For the first time in her life, Margaret was like an only child, racketing around that great Palace at the end of the Mall, with no very obvious task and with no companion of roughly her own age. It seemed, she followed Time magazine's suggestion and became "the party animal she remained for most of her life".

She regularly danced the night away with the so-called Princess Margaret Set. She loved to sing at the piano in nightclubs, surrounded by laughing friends. During the day, she did her work, and generally did it well. Like others of her generation, she had a strongly developed sense of duty, though her official duties were not always glamorous or exciting.

Photographs from the time show an almost impossibly glamorous figure. Hats, bouquets, handbags are all apparently permanent fixtures, as is a wide seductive smile. Around her, elderly gentlemen, mayors and the like, dance attendance. All wear an expression of adulation and the Princess gives every indication of much enjoying centre-stage.

Aneurin Bevan, the Labour Minister for Health, noticed that every time she visited a hospital, recruitment of nurses - a particular problem for his new National Health Service - soared. He pressed her office with more invitations.

Then, just as she was spreading her wings, her life changed abruptly. The shy and stammering King George VI had not been in good health for some time, but his death on 6th February 1952, aged 56, was wholly unexpected.

The Earl of Snowdon’s engagement to Princess Margaret in February 1960 was a surprise, as some considered she was still on the "rebound" from her ill-fated relationship with Group Captain Peter Townsend. The couple married in May 1960 and, in the "swinging sixties", they mixed with actors, artists and pop stars. They were divorced in 1978.

Before their divorce Princess Margret and Lord Snowdon visited Australia in 1972. They arrived in Perth on 7th October 1972 and spent more than a week in Western Australia with trips to Kalgoorlie, Kamalda and Albany among other cities.

Princess Margret returned alone to Australia in 1975 to attend the Women’s Royal Australian Army Corps 25th Anniversary. Eight days after she finished her tour the Whitlam government was dismissed by the Governor-General. She had met Sir John Kerr and Lady Kerr and the Prime Minister Gough Whitlam and Mrs. Whitlam on 22nd October 1975.

The older she became, the more the Princess seemed to attract disapproving comment. The Princess performed most of her official visits on her own. Whereas her sister was often accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, Princess Margaret cut an increasingly lonely-looking figure. Her once glamorous solitude had come to seem sad.

Early in 1985, she had a serious lung operation and was photographed looking drawn and wan. The Queen's children, meanwhile, were taking on more and more of her duties. When Prince Edward came of age, he took his place on the list of members of the Royal Family eligible to be Counsellors of State (those with powers to act on behalf of the Queen) - and Margaret was simply removed. Yet she had carried out this role for decades, and enjoyed it.

The rules could have been amended to let her continue, but the idea seems not to have been contemplated. Not for the first time, the Princess was underemployed and under-appreciated.

She who had once been the cynosure of the Royal Family - the cleverest, the most artistic and effervescent - was slipping inexorably towards the wings.

She eventually died in her sleep on February 9th, 2002, with her son and daughter at her bedside. The funeral was held at St George's Chapel, Windsor , where her father lay buried, and where her 101-year-old mother would join them both in a matter of weeks. More on Princess Margaret's life.

Monday 9 February 2009

The Queen of Australia shocked by the devastating bushfires

Queen Elizabeth, The Queen of Australia, has expressed shock at the devastating bushfires that have torn through southern Australia and offered her condolences to the families of those who have been killed.

"I was shocked and saddened to learn of the terrible toll being exacted by the fires this weekend," the Queen said in a statement released on Sunday, which was published by The Age as well as The HeraldSun.

"I send my heartfelt condolences to the families of all those who have died and my deep sympathy to the many that have lost their homes in this disaster.

"On so dreadful an occasion as this for Australia, the firefighters and other emergency services have been making extraordinary efforts to contain the situation and tend to those who have been injured.

"Please also convey to them my renewed admiration for all that they are doing."

On Her Majesty's new website is this message to Her Australian people

The Queen's message following the fires in Australia

8 February 2009


I was shocked and saddened to learn of the terrible toll being exacted by the fires this weekend. I send my heartfelt condolences to the families of all those who have died and my deep sympathy to the many who have lost their homes in this disaster.

On so dreadful an occasion as this for Australia, the firefighters and other emergency services have been making extraordinary efforts to contain the situation and tend to those who have been injured. Please also convey to them my renewed admiration for all that they are doing.

Republican friendship ensures cheap election victory

While Victoria is bracing for the deadliest bush fires in the state’s history, there is someone in Australia, who might be quite relieved that this horror takes the fire away from another story: Malcolm Turnbull had to face revelations that he received a $US50,000 ($A75,000) donation for his election campaign in Wentworth last March from Peter Briger. As The Sunday Age reported on 8th February, Mr Briger is president and director of the controversial "vulture company" Fortress Investment Group, one of the companies involved in the subprime lending business that contributed to the still unfolding global financial crisis. Mr Briger was listed by Forbes magazine in 2007 as having a net worth of $US2.3 billion. He is also a former partner at Goldman Sachs, the same company where Mr Turnbull made his millions as a merchant banker.

The top republican in the Liberal Party had received Peter Briger’s campaign donation in March, but Turnbull disclosed it to the Australian Electoral Commission in November (according to The Sunday Age). However, The Sydney Morning Herald reported on 12th May 2008 on Malcolm Turnbull’s electoral campaign (Turnbull chipped in $70,000 to win). According to the SMH, Turnbull had “spent just over $70,000 of his own money on the hard-fought election campaign for the Sydney eastern suburbs electorate of Wentworth at last year's federal poll. … His return to the AEC shows he spent $49,202 on producing campaign material such as how to vote cards, posters and pamphlets, $18,802 on direct mailing and $3,768 in election advertisements.

Mr Turnbull did not disclose any separate donations to his local campaign.

"The latest BRW estimate on the Turnbulls puts his and wife Lucy's worth at $133 million (although some pundits claim it could be as high as $170 million)," wrote Katharine Murphy on 19th September 2008 in A bit rich. Donating $70,000 to his own election victory seems to be a very profitable investment. With a little help from his friends he made it to the top of the opposition.

Tuesday 3 February 2009

55 years ago: The Queen arrived in Australia

For once I must give thanks to The Age. Today's edition of the Melburnian newspaper reminded me that 55 years to this day, the Queen of Australia, who was proclaimed on 8th February 1952 and crowned on 2nd June 1953 had arrived in Australia.

On 3rd February 1954, the newly crowned Queen became the first reigning Australian Monarch to step ashore on Australian soil when the royal barge tied up at Farm Cove in Sydney.

For the next two months, until her departure from Fremantle, WA, the Queen's visit provided Australians with a chance to celebrate and demonstrate their loyalty.

Almost three-quarters of the Australian population took advantage of the opportunity, seeing their Queen at least once during the visit.

The National Museum of Australia in Canberra lists facts and figures from the 1954 royal tour:
510,000 pounds approximately in total contributed by the federal government
500,000 miles registered by the cars of Royal Visit Car Company
200,000 pounds contributed by the federal government for the use of the yacht Gothic
200,000 people filled the streets in the city Sydney when decorations for the royal tour were illuminated for the first time
96,475 pounds spent by the Federal Government on decorations and illuminations for Australian towns and cities visited by the Queen
20,000 cars participated in the gridlock that choked the city of Sydney when decorations for the royal tour were illuminated for the first time
10,000 air miles travelled by the Queen
10,000 cartons of canned fruit from Shepparton taken aboard Gothic
5000 cartons of tomato juice taken aboard Gothic
3237 bags of milk powder taken aboard Gothic
3200 passengers travelled by air during the Royal Tour
2000 road miles travelled by the Queen
1500 cases of canned meat taken aboard Gothic
600 hours flown by the RAAF
363 flights made by the RAAF
257 civil air flights
207 car journeys made by the Queen
130 hours spent by the Queen in motor cars
100 speeches made by the Queen in towns and cities she visited
57 hours spent by the Queen in aeroplanes 35 air flights by the Duke
33 air flights by the Queen
20 tons for freight in total for civil air passengers
5 engagements per day

This clip shows Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh arriving in George Street, Sydney, on Wednesday 3 February 1954. They are greeted by a huge, excited crowd. The Queen lays a wreath on the cenotaph at Martin Place.

Australia Post provides a vivid report from the Royal arrival
Sydney was the first destination in the Queen’s 1954 visit to Australia, and there was a great deal of anticipation and excitement preceding her arrival. In this clip we see the pride of the Post Master General's department at the time, the Sydney GPO, as well as an array of other city buildings, festooned and decorated in honour of the visit. Most of the buildings in the Sydney CBD had been decorated for the occasion. Two nights before the arrival of the Queen, all the royal tour decorations were illuminated for the first time. On that night, an estimated 200,000 people and 20,000 cars had filled the city streets to view the spectacle.

On the day of the Queen’s arrival, she landed at Farm Cove at 10:33am. It was a perfect summer day, and at least half a million people positioned themselves on every foreshore vantage point between North and South Heads and the Harbour Bridge. From there, they watched the Royal Yacht, the Gothic, sail into Sydney Harbour and viewed the Queen stepping off the royal barge at Farm Cove. In this clip, we see the royal motorcade make its way down George Street to Martin Place. It was estimated that a million onlookers lined the city streets. The footage gives an indication of the thrill and exhilaration felt on the occasion, not just by the crowds of spectators, but by the media personnel involved. At Martin Place the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh place a wreath on the cenotaph, and receive a tumultuous cheer.