September 9, 2007

The Queen, please don't come back

Don’t Come Back, Queen

Written on the occassion of Her Majesty's visit during the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.
March, 2006.

One of the most unfortunate side effects of the Commonwealth Games, when royal personage was in town, was having to watch TV footage of an ageing and strangely hatted woman wander through small crowds with what appears to be a semi-detached wrist. This woman, who should have been given the axe several years back, was here to appear before her subjects who, it seems, can’t have a good time without a right royal needle up the posterior.

On opening night of the Games or sometime after, I hoped that a collective two-finger salute would greet her majestic big hoax. Instead down to earth Australian commoners paid due respect. She spoke of the commonwealth, I thought of a plundering empire that left a mess in its wake.

Why do we bow before the blue bloods? After all, would they even give you a lift on a hot day? Sometime in 1983, I was hitchhiking from Hobart to Launceston. As I wandered into one small town, there was the bustle and fuss that is normally associated with school sports day.

Kids were lining the streets and ribbons separated them from the road. It soon became clear to me that royalty was on the road, and that I’d have a chance to stick my thumb up at it. I passed the gathering, struggling with the weight of tent, kerosene stove and the dirty laundry of several weeks wear. The police allowed me to continue hitching and as I reached the outskirts of the town the royal convoy passed. I managed that hopeful side-glance of the hitchhiker and caught a glimpse of Charles and Di. They didn’t stop, though there was plenty of space. “Wankers”, I thought to myself. And that is exactly what the contemporary monarchy is.

I will not bore you with republican tales of growing up listening to the Dubliners. You can now experience that at an Irish themed franchise pub. My original antipathy had nothing to do with politics at that time, but simple decency. Monarchy is a euphemism for plunder and pillage, for indecent power and eloquent disguise.

All monarchies have at their origins in venal and power motives that get recast as salvation of nation, empire or race. I was young when I believed that, and I still do. There can be no democracy that has at its heart a belief in birth privilege.

The language, pomposity and stuffed-turkey nose-in-the air disposition of monarchy are supposed to be markers of born virtue. I doubt that there can be a shred of virtue among people who believe themselves superior to others. To be born to title is no-one’s fault, but to hold to that title, to walk red carpet and to speak of ‘subjects’ is blatant blasphemy to any humane creed.

Can I even be bothered rehearsing my political objections? Not really, go back to the pamphleteers of several hundred years ago. They said it all. To update it a little, here is my two fingers worth.

Consider the grand tax heist that only ended last decade. Consider the silliness of bowing to someone who views you as a lowly subject. Consider even more forebodingly the death of the incumbent and the arrival to the throne of a sermonising Charles holding weekly broadcasts on nose fungus and the banality of contemporary life.

Consider the Coronation. Consider an over excited octogenarian Prime Minister John Howard in attendance finally stuffing it in Canterbury as he stumbles and falls while taking a bow. Consider the news broadcasts that follow his cadaver’s return to our fair shores. Consider the fate of poor Australian expatriates in London putting up with Johnny come lately jokes.

Royals and aristocrats do not expect much from commoners, only that we follow their wise advice. They do, however expect vulgarity. So here goes. In private moments the queen passes wind. That momentary pause of waving hand is most likely one such moment. That beneficent gesture of bending to take flowers from a school girl’s hands, another.

The queen goes to the toilet. How she does, and under what conditions, is a state secret more securely kept than any other. Hopefully some rogue republican can reveal the excesses to which the government went to make sure that on the tour the royal toilet was used only by her, and once only.

Headlines I would have liked to have seen during the Royal tour include:


And now my own personal message to the Queen: Your voice is snobbery vocalised, your tedious care for the world is tea’n’scone philanthropy mobilised. A wretchedly obsequious milieu will ‘maam’ you, while erstwhile republicans will bow to you. As for me, all I can say Maam, is that you’re one big Haam. Please, please, don’t come back.

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