Image: Source: Jonathan Yeo on Facebook

ABC TV has been running an excellent series titled ‘Stuff The British Stole’, in which journalist Marc Fennel looks at the prized artefacts plundered by the British during the bad old days of their massive colonial Empire. It concentrates on now priceless museum pieces but there is something the British continue to steal and that’s our true identity as a nation, a result of our ongoing allegiance to their often dysfunctional royal family.

Australia has always regarded itself as an egalitarian, almost classless society, even though we were still handing out gongs for knights and dames in the 1970s. Bob Hawke got rid of them in 1986 but had Tony Abbott kept his way in 2014 we might still be anointing our captains of industry and dubious pollies with these antiquated titles. The pomp and pageantry of the British monarchy has always had a certain appeal in this country, even though the history behind it is one of ruthless colonisation, the subjugation of non-Anglos and the mass looting of their empire.

Why can’t we be like Barbados which in 2021 became the world’s newest republic when they happily ditched the British monarchy, after 300 years of colonisation? King Charles attended a ceremony in Bridgetown, making a somewhat grovelling address, when he conceded “from the darkest days of our past and the appalling atrocity of slavery, which forever stains our histories, the people of this island forged their path with extraordinary fortitude.” There was of course no mention of the millions of pounds in reparation that Barbados should be entitled to after years of British exploitation.

The trashing of the Tories in the recent UK election might give some hope to ‘Republic’, the British republic pressure group working to boot out the monarchy and replace it with a de jure parliamentary republic. The group has gained considerable momentum in recent years, now boasting some 140,000 registered supporters and 10,000 paid up members. All good but they continue to battle against years of history, ingrained monarchist sentiment and a mass media that sees the royals as a valuable cash cow.

Here in Australia any republican ambition has to deal with the constant media coverage still trotted out for the royals. Just one example – it’s become a fixture of TV news reporting, particularly on the 6.00pm bulletins, that some mention of the royal family is made, regardless of the more important events of the day.  Most recently we had daily updates on the health of Princess Anne who was apparently suffering some kind of minor concussion, supposedly caused by a horse. Hardly what you would call earth shattering news compared to countless other events throughout the world including the daily slaughter of civilians in Gaza.

Why do the TV stations, both the commercials and the ABC, continue to do it? It’s because they have been doing it for years, ever since television began in the 1950s when we all sang ‘God Save The Queen’ and the British royal family was a really big deal. These days it’s slotted in as a kind of nostalgic reassurance for the overall stability of the country. The royal family, with all their minor dramas, family riffs, sex scandals, health problems and assorted dysfunction also provide a daily soap opera for which many in this country still have an appetite. Most of what is reported about their daily tribulations is carefully media managed or predictably glamourised by the hordes of royal watchers who make a living babbling about these pampered dullards.

Whether we will ever get around to having another referendum in the next decade or so to ditch this wretched anachronism is difficult to say. It’s unlikely to ever occur under a Liberal Coalition government with a leader as conservative as Dutton, although in fairness it was a Lib in Malcolm Turnbull who headed the 1999 republic referendum ‘Yes” campaign. Times and public perceptions do change however and with nearly a third of all current Australians born in overseas countries, the monarchy might just become irrelevant.

It’s also likely that when a more marketable William and Kate take over from the adulterers Charles and Camilla, the royal soap opera will get a major shot in the arm when it come to the daily media onslaught. Our ties to the monarchy could be rejuvenated, reinforced (aka brainwashed) by an extended coverage of their privileged existence.

In the meantime what can you do to avoid the loathsome royals and further the cause of Australia becoming a republic? Join the Australian Republic Movement, turn the six o’clock news off ten minutes before it ends when they invariably slot in some trivial piece of bullshit from Buckingham Palace, drag out an old Sex Pistols ‘God Save The Queen t-shirt and wear it with pride and sing the praises of Oliver Cromwell to any diehard monarchists you might encounter.

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