Monday 30 August 2010

Republican self-criticism

With support for "a" republic having dropped to a 16-year low,
self-declared republican Leo Shanahan commented:
"Modern Australian republicanism always comes off as a group of people bored for a cause rather than a cause that people have any natural desire to flock to. You get the feeling that plans for an Australian republic are hatched on Saturdays by people watching Sydney club rugby and looking up from the pages of the Good Weekend, desperate to lay some claim to being disenfranchised."

Sunday 29 August 2010

Australian republicanism at 16-year low

That must have cost The Sunday Age some tears: To admit that "more Australians [are] favouring retaining the monarchy" than to make Australia a republic.
Despite some re-emerging political momentum for the republican cause, voters appear increasingly apathetic about the idea of replacing the Queen and governor-general with an Australia head of state, although many are prepared to accept a republic after Queen Elizabeth's reign ends.

An Age/Nielsen poll taken earlier this month shows support for a republic is now running at 44 per cent. This is the lowest level since 1994, and well down from the peak of 57 per cent in 1999, the year the question was tested in a national referendum.

The national poll of 1400 people found almost half (48 per cent) are now against the idea. Such a level of hostility has not been recorded since the late 1970s, when about 61 per cent were against a republic.

Republicans put all their hope in the Queen of Australia's death - as if the people would rush out in a referendum and kick out King Charles. Can you think of anything more "un-Australian" than to deny a newcomer a fair chance to show his talents?

This idea shows that Australian republicanism is an inplausible concept.

Saturday 28 August 2010

Royal wedding in Greece

Finally, there is good news coming from Greece. On 25th August the seventh in line to the Greek throne, King Constantine II of the Hellenes second son, HRH Prince Nikolaos of Greece and Denmark married Tatiana Blatnik at the church of Aghios Nikolaos, on the island of Spetses. The last Greek royal wedding took place in September 1964, when the ruling King Constantine married 18 year-old Danish Princess Anne-Marie in a lavish ceremony in the nations' capital Athens.

His Majesty's website describes the Spetses wedding as following:

We are delighted to announce that the wedding of HRH Prince Nikolaos to Tatiana Blatnik took place at the church of Aghios Nikolaos, Spetses.

The ceremony was officiated by His Eminence the Bishop of Hydra, Spetses, Aigina, Ermionida and Trizinia, Efraim.

During the dinner that followed, His Majesty King Constantine delivered the following speech:

Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, Your Eminence, Your Excellencies and dear friends….as the King of Siam put it in the musical The King and I….etcetera, etcetera, etcetera...

Nikolaos… last! As Shakespeare wrote in Romeo and Juliet..”Wisely and slow; they stumble that run fast”…and Tatiana….“One fairer than my love? The all-seeing sun ne’er saw her match since first the world begun”…..

A little morality tale for my son on the occasion of his wedding:
A married couple in their early 60s was celebrating their 40th Wedding Anniversary in a quiet, romantic, little restaurant. Suddenly, a tiny and beautiful fairy appeared on their table. She said, 'For being such an exemplary married couple and for being loving to each other for all this time, I will grant you each a wish.

The wife answered, 'Oh, I want to travel around the world with my darling husband.' The fairy waved her magic wand and - suddenly! – two tickets for the Queen Mary II appeared in her hands

The husband thought for a moment: 'Well, this is all very romantic, but an opportunity like this will never come again. I'm sorry my love, but my wish is to have a wife 30 years younger than me.'

The wife, and the fairy, were deeply disappointed, but a wish is a wish. So the fairy waved her magic wand and suddenly!...the husband became 92 years old.

The moral of this story? Always remember this, my son: however magical they may be, fairies are always female!

So…. Pavlo brought into the family a shining diamond, Alexia brought a bright star, and you a beautiful pearl. I remember when you were born, I was in the delivery room and the doctor said in a loud voice “2” meaning the medical team should be alert as the umbilical cord had gone twice round your neck! In my ignorance, I thought my lovely wife was about to produce twins! Thinking back, I am not convinced that the world is quite ready to cope with two Nikolaos’!

Your negotiating skills were apparent to me from the moment you went to Brown University. Whenever the occasion presented itself, and you had to submit your work or an essay which, more often than not, wasn’t ready, you always managed to persuade The Dean to give you an extension.

You impressed me a great deal that you wanted to follow your elder brother, Pavlo, into the Army. Having left the regiment, Pavlo volunteered to re-join at the beginning of the Gulf War and you approached the Brigadier commanding 7th Brigade requesting to join the front line alongside your fellow officers. It was quite a difficult period for your mother and me when it became apparent that you might have to go to war.

I know I don't need to remind you of our country's history, but from the day your great great grandfather, George I, was elected by the Greek national assembly unanimously to become King of the Hellenes until today, when our lives have changed and Greece has become a republic. Service to our country and the Greek people has always been our tradition, and always will be.

As you know, Nikolae, our country and all of us Greeks are going through and will continue to endure difficult times. I have great confidence in the resilience of the Greek People. I can only wish that there is a sign of hope soon so that the crisis is terminated and that Greece finds its way to redevelopment.

This is the first wedding of our family in Greece since we left and we are delighted that it is taking place on this beautiful island, Spetses, with it’s wonderful people. It is a place we have come to love and, don’t forget, very close to here is where your mother and I spent our honeymoon and just across the sea on the mainland, we have started to make our home.

With deep gratitude to the people of Spetses and to the people from different parts of Greece who have come here today – our love and sincere thanks. We would also like to thank the Municipality of Spetses for welcoming this wedding on their island and for their understanding, the Police Authorities represented, the Port Authority and the Fire Brigade for the long hours they have all put in and for their discretion.

Anne-Marie has asked me to mention, as happy as we are to have you here today, we would be really thrilled if you would return and spend some time getting to know this beautiful island.

The advice I gave to your brother in law, Carlos, when he married Alexia, I give to you now….

“To keep your marriage brimming
with love in the loving cup,
whenever you are wrong, admit it,
whenever you are right, shut up”.

There is a song written by Rogers and Hammerstein which you will all be happy to know I am not going to sing… which goes…

"It's a lovely day for a wedding
Every heart is bursting with pride
It's a lovely day for a wedding
But not for the parents of the bride."

Why? Because today they lose their daughter to my son Nikolaos. To my brand new daughter in law… I say from my heart - welcome to our family.

Tatiana, I heard you ask your mother in the midst of all the planning for this great day, how far have you got…..what have you accomplished….the answer, without doubt…..her greatest accomplishment is you….

My friends, it is a lovely day for a wedding and my heart is indeed bursting with pride.

Tatiana, look after your husband. He's not a bad fellow.

And Nikolaos, look after your wife. She's a treasure.

God bless you both.

By the way, the state controlled TV-station ERT reported nothing on the wedding. And there is no hint on the website on what happened on Spetses. That's called freedom of information. Well done, you republicans!

Sunday 22 August 2010

Saturday 21 August 2010

80th Birthday of Her Royal Highness
The Princess Margaret Rose
Countess of Snowdon
1930 - 2002

When Princess Margaret Rose was born on 21st August 1930 at Glamis Castle in Perthshire, younger sister to Princess Elizabeth, (HM Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia) she was fourth in line of succession to the throne. Princess Margaret died in London on 9th February 2002. She was the younger daughter of The Duke and Duchess of York, later to become King George VI and Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother following the Abdication Crisis of 1936. Glamis was the Scottish home of her grandparents, the Earl and Countess of Strathmore.

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, because 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 Princess Margaret 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.

Pietro Annigoni's 1957 portrait of Princess Margaret.

In 1972 Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon visited Australia. 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 Margaret returned alone to Australia in 1975 to attend the Women’s Royal Australian Army Corps 25th Anniversary. She had met Sir John Kerr and Lady Kerr and the Prime Minister Gough Whitlam and Mrs. Whitlam on 22nd October 1975. Eight days after she finished her tour the Whitlam government was dismissed by the Governor-General.

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. She appeared to make a good recovery, but was felled nine years later by a stroke. Again, she bounced back and seemed to be on the mend. 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 9th February 2002 with her son and daughter at her bedside. The funeral of Princess Margaret has been held at St George's Chapel, Windsor, on Friday 15th February at 3.00pm, 50 years to the day since the funeral of her father, King George VI. HM Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, was present although she was not in the best of health. The Queen Mother had been staying at Sandringham but travelled by helicopter to Royal Lodge in Windsor Great Park on Thursday, 14th February. Seven weeks later The Queen Mother was to die at Royal Lodge, on March 30th 2002.
More on Princess Margaret's life.

The heirlooms that was put up for auction in June 2006 by the Princess' two children, Viscount Linley and Lady Sarah Chatto had been estimated to fetch some £3 million but they raised £13,658,728. Lord Linley and Lady Sarah needed to meet death duties on their mother's estate.

The final tally for the auction exceeded all expectations, but more than £410,000 of that total went to charities like The Stroke Association and SOS Children's Villages. In 2006 Jon Barrick, Chief Executive of The Stroke Association said: "Any donation received from the auction will be added to The Stroke Association's Princess Margaret Fund which provides medical research into the condition that causes over 65,000 deaths each year and has left around 300,000 people living with moderate to severe disabilities." Another charity bonus came from the chain-smoking princess's gem-set cigarette case, inscribed: "To Margaret from her very devoted Papa GR Christmas 1949". It was expected to fetch upwards of £3,000. It went for £102,000.

On her 80th birthday Princess Margaret is missed by more people than the media let us believe. Even the German daily Frankfurter Neue Presse commemorated the late Princess Margaret.

Wednesday 18 August 2010

Tony Abbott's NO to a republic: "Not in my lifetime"

In response to Julia Gillard's idea of having "a" republic after the Queen's death, Tony Abbott reaffirmed that Australia won't become a republic in his lifetime.

Asked by The Age whether he thought there would ever be a republic, the Opposition Leader said the republican cause had been with us for a long time, "but the Australian people have demonstrated themselves to be remarkably attached to institutions that work".

"I think that our existing constitutional arrangements have worked well in the past. I see no reason whatsoever why they can't continue to work well in the future.

"So while there may very well be further episodes of republicanism in this country, I am far from certain that at least in our lifetimes there is likely to be any significant change
," Mr. Abbott said.

Tuesday 17 August 2010

Murdoch the clairvoyant

In an interview Julia Gillard revealed her republican attitude, which did not really come as a surprise. “I believe that this nation should be a republic. I also believe that this nation has got a deep affection for Queen Elizabeth. But I think the appropriate time for this nation to be a republic will be when we see the monarch change.” She then continued, she obviously wanted to see Queen Elizabeth live a long and happy life. “Having watched her mother, there's every chance that she will.

What was highly speculative, because a politician’s wishful thinking cannot be forced onto the Australian people, even if this politician happens to be at present the country’s prime minister, became a fact in Rupert Murdoch’s Melbourne daily MX:

The headline does not contain a question mark, as if Julia Gillard’s idea were a fact. But still, when it comes to changing the Australian Constitution it is not Rupert Murdoch – and/or any politician – who make the decision, but the Australian people.

As the British Labour politician Harold Wilson, Baron Wilson of Rievaulx, KG, OBE, FRS, PC (11 March 1916 – 24 May 1995) said: “A week is a long time in politics.” When it comes to the Queen’s lifetime, it might last for another decade and more. Who can predict the political landscape in 2020? Not even a clairvoyant like Rupert Murdoch could tell the future.

Why should the Australians not show the same loyalty to King Charles as they showed it to the other Australian Monarchs? The preparation for a referendum takes years, in which the Australian people will get used to the next Monarch. They will shout in due course of time: "The Queen is dead! Long live the King!"

Monday 16 August 2010

The Age is in mourning

It was with deep regret that the writer of today's editorial of The Age conceded: “... support for [a republic] will weaken, as an Age/Nielsen poll taken last week indicates. Only 44 per cent of respondents wanted Australia to become a republic.” The only hope The Age squeezes out of the opinion poll is that “31 per cent said it should never happen”.

They never give up hope. But neither do the Monarchists who are certain that intelligence will prevail.

Sunday 15 August 2010

The Princess Royal at 60

The Princess Royal, the second child and only daughter of The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh, was born at Clarence House, London, on 15 August 1950, when her mother was Princess Elizabeth, heir presumptive to the throne. She was baptised Anne Elizabeth Alice Louise at Buckingham Palace on 21 October 1950.

She received the title Princess Royal from The Queen in June 1987; she was previously known as Princess Anne. Her Royal Highness is the seventh holder of the title.

The Princess Royal has a wide range of public roles, and a very busy working schedule.

The Princess began to undertake public engagements alone when she was 18 and had left school. She first flew her personal standard in 1969 when she opened an educational and training centre in Shropshire. Her first State Visit was in May the same year, when she accompanied The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh to Austria.

The Save the Children Fund, of which she has been chair since 1970, was the first major charity with which she became closely associated. It has given her great insight into the needs of children worldwide, and an understanding of the issues affecting developing countries.

In her work for the organisation, the Princess has visited Save the Children projects in many countries, including Indonesia, China, Cambodia, Vietnam, Ethiopia, Malawi, Botswana and Madagascar.

Her Royal Highness is associated with over 200 charities and organisations in an official capacity, to all of which she devotes a large part of her working life. Search these in our charities and patronages database.

The Princess has been closely involved with the creation of several charities, notably The Princess Royal's Trust for Carers, Transaid and Riders for Health.

The Princess Royal's Trust for Carers provides support for the millions of individuals in the UK who are responsible for caring for someone.

The Princess Royal at the Melbourne memorial service for the bushfire victimes in February 2009.
Who deserves a chance?

The Sunday Age has urged its audience to vote for the ALP: “With no great enthusiasm, we say the ALP should be returned on Saturday.” Why? “Gillard deserves her chance”. That really sums it up.

Interestingly enough, the editorial did not mention one reason for a Gillard vote that is usually so dear to the Fairfax media: A republic. Not one hint to vote for Labor because of the party’s republican agenda. What does this tell us? No hope for “a” republic under Gillard? In order not to embarrass her, better don’t mention “a” republic. Or should Monarchists not be driven into the Coalition’s arms? After all, a third of the Labor voters said No to a republic in the 1999 referendum. In this close electoral race every vote counts and could decide who shall form the next Australian government.

During the election campaign Julia Gillard has kept quiet on the republic issue. At the National Press Club in Canberra mid-July “Ms Gillard has said that she does not sense that the republic debate is a burning issue for Australians and has refused to promise that she will hold a referendum if elected.

"Where the republic debate went wrong was that it became too much about what people like me think and not enough about what Australian community thinks. This has to be about a community consensus and I don't believe we are there yet."

What if she never gets there?

Tuesday 10 August 2010

Envious republicans

Everybody is entitled to a holiday. A Royal or a president, a few weeks away from daily routine are necessary for everyone. Well paid critics in the media or in politics are less generous, they try to sew dispute.

This holiday season in the Northern hemisphere saw two cases of envious reporting.

US president Barack Obama’s wife Michelle and daughter Sasha were were on a four-day visit and stayed at the five-star Villa Padierna, rated as one of the world's top 30 hotels, with 40 friends. The party has reserved 60 rooms. The First Lady went to the city of Granada and enjoyed the spectacular Alhambra Palace. Mrs Obama and her daughter also paid a visit to Spain's King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia at their summer palace on the island of Majorca, a short flight from Marbella.
From the website of the Casa de Su Majestad el Rey: Sus Majestades los Reyes y Su Alteza Real la Princesa de Asturias, acompañados de la primera dama de los Estados Unidos de America, Michelle Obama y su hija, Sasha

Mrs. Obama left no doubt that this was a private tour at her own expenses. Fair enough and the Kingdom of Spain is worth more than one visit. She will certainly be welcome whenever she wants to return to the Iberian Kingdom.

Some 250 Spanish officers and military personnel protected the Obamas during their stay. They include police divers, bomb disposal experts and dog handlers. About 70 US Secret Service agents are also in Marbella, some of them dressed undercover as tourists.

US Republicans have criticised Mrs. Obama for taking a holiday in the Kingdom of Spain instead of visiting the Gulf of Mexico. While the US security staff was paid by the US taxpayers, the cost of the 250 Spanish security personnel was shouldered by the Spaniards, and despite the country’s dire financial situation there was not criticism about the unknown bill.

Had this happened in Australia, would the republicans be up in arms against the expenditure for a foreign tourist? Certainly not, if it was a family member of a foreign republican head of state. What would they have made of the second example.

This July the Australian Royal Family had a cruise around the Western Highlands and islands of Scotland on the Hebridean Princess, a converted ferry. The Queen has paid £300,000 out of her own pocket, but that did not cover the security surrounding her, including the protective shadowing of her vessel by a Royal Navy frigate and divers.

In August 1979 Lord Mountbatten, Prince Philip’s uncle, was killed when the Irish Republican Army blew up his boat.(Sinn Féin vice-president Gerry Adams said of Lord Mountbatten's death: “The IRA gave clear reasons for the execution.”) The Royal Family is still on many terror groups’ death list. In civilised countries security measures are paid by the public for ex-prime ministers like Tony Blair as well as for authors like Sir Salman Rushdie. Only the Royal Family is always under criticism, because of the cost to protect their lives.

Gerald Warner:
„ ... By an extraordinary coincidence that [amount of money] is precisely what the frigate would have cost if it had carried out the same exercises purely in theory, without the presence of the Queen to make them more focused and realistic. The only way to avoid costs would have been to put the ship in mothballs which, with our services currently so overstretched, would hardly be practical. Don’t forget the divers! snivel the critics. Right, so, Royal Navy divers should never venture into the water, on grounds of expense – is that the idea? Should our divers keep their flippers dry while any terrorist who can use a snorkel attaches limpet mines to the vessel carrying half of the royal family?
Or if al-Qaeda were to raid the ship and hold the royal family hostage, would that be less expensive?
Imagine, the Royal Family had decided to take a holiday in Australia, just like Michelle Obama wanted her time off in the Kingdom of Spain. The republicans would be running amok, crying foul and murder over the cost for a couple of security officers who would have to be paid anyway, since in analogy to Gerald Warner, they would have cost the same amount sitting at stand-by.

Republicans – in the US and in Australia or in the UK for that matter – just play political games, and very cheap and obvious ones as well.

Saturday 7 August 2010

The man who could be PM in a fortnight

Shaun Carney, The Age, 7th August 2010:

"Abbott is, quite simply, a very complex and interesting character. He set up Australians for a Constitutional Monarchy in the early 1990s when republicanism appeared to be all the rage and being a monarchist was unfashionable. He has degrees in economics and law from Sydney University, where he was awarded a Rhodes scholarship."

Friday 6 August 2010

Republicanism comes with a price tag

Did you ever leave a price tag on a present? Then you know the embarrassing moment, when the presented discovered how much how much he or she is worth for you.

For republicans nothing can be too embarrassing, when they think, it could damage the reputation of the Australian Monarchy. And it comes as no surprise that The Age was the republican mouthpiece to blast the present’s details into the world - all under the label of freedom of information (FOI): Bill for state gifts to Queen a princely $709:
The details were revealed in documents, obtained by The Age under freedom of information, that show the planning that went into the regal audience at Balmoral Castle. The theme for the royal offerings was the vivid blue, white, green and pink of the Victorian tartan.

“The ties - which were produced for
Princes Philip, Charles, William and Harry, with extras - were 70 to 75 per cent Australian merino wool with the maker boasting: 'From a fashion point - the use of the Windsor knot makes the ties sit beautifully with collar shirt.'

“Princess Anne received the woollen scarf and the Queen also received a photographic diary of the Black Saturday blazes ($645).
How shocking, the presents for The Queen had to be bought - in Victoria and they were not "Made in China"! Should Mr. Brumby have knitted them himself at home? Or on his countless helicopter flights around the countryside?

How appalled must The Age have been, that “The Premier, an avowed Republican, said the visit was ‘quite an honour’ and was effusive in his praise for the Queen's interest in Victoria", as the same newspaper quoted Mr. Brumby on 6th October 2009 as he and his wife, Rosemary McKenzie, left Balmoral Castle.

I was so impressed by how informed she was about Victoria and about Australia ... she was particularly interested in the recovery, how people were faring and the status of the temporary villages.

“She's a remarkable person. She's extraordinarily well informed and deeply concerned about what's happening in Victoria and Australia. That's what so impressed me and this is something she has personally felt and personally experienced

Buckingham Palace had the decency not to go public with the presents the Brumby couple received in exchange. And Her Majesty will certainly not have left a price tag on the gifts. Style has no price.

And unlike the Labor Premier John Brumby the Queen of Australia also does not charge $5,000 for a seat at her dinner table.