Bow down colonials — it's the Queen's Birthday

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Every year, the English Queen's dutiful subjects in the Antipodes take a day off work in June to celebrate her regal birth. Sarah Brasch says 'get a grip', Aussies.

This year has seen a collective memory fade about the real reason for the June long weekend. This is what happens when you get rid of the royal fireworks. 

Apart from a few signs in shops about opening hours and a brief TV news item (ABC, was this only in Canberra?) on the Trooping of the Colour, a rather pale imitation of the real birthday event in London. Incidentally, the most colour being trooped at our end was by the Governor-General in a shining military uniform with lots of long gold tassels. (Isn’t this country supposed to be secular?)

More striking was that there was no shot of “a huge crowd cheering wildly”, but maybe this was not surprising when the ceremony was staged in one of the capital’s coldest wind tunnels on a sub-zero morning.

There is hardly a rasped whisper to be heard about the Queen of England, our Head of State, whose birthday holiday it is.

This fact deserves deep reflection – serious contemplation – every second Monday in June. How often do we really ponder the role of our Queen, her heirs and successors and the fact that they will long reign over us if we, the people of Australia, do not do something about it?

“Long-to-reign-over-you” should be enunciated slowly and repeated daily by every Australian in front of a mirror. Beloved of the Barmy Army, that refrain will be heard again very soon when the next Ashes series starts in early July. You see, it even infects the cricket and that is serious.

Is our concept of ourselves — that we are part of the British diaspora, still a colony on the underside of the Earth, 20 hours away from “home” by air, the de facto subjects of an English Queen?

New Zealand is further, but not as brainwashed. They are having a referendum later this year to get the Union Jack off their flag. The Kiwis have not only got commonsense but a conservative prime minister leading the charge.

The British monarch is such an important part of our national Government, its head in fact. The current one turned 89 on this birthday. Contrary to what all our politicians believe – because it is far too hard for those power-wranglers to come to grips with the idea of governing ourselves in a republic – she will not be around that much longer.

We should be always remembering the parade of Aussie knights and dames, reinstituted by that great constitutional monarchist, our prime minister. 

He is following suit anyway, because our Queen has just made Prince Harry a knight for services to herself. It can be handy for one’s grandmother to be adept with the ceremonial sword.

No knighthoods were awarded today, though — and let us sincerely hope there are not any more, even although there is still a quota of three available this year. The last two were awarded to the Duke of Edinburgh, the Queen’s husband and Angus Houston – the go-to problem solver, inquiry head (remember his effort that led to Manus and Nauru as places of no return?) and commander-in-chief of the search for MH370 – neither of whom met the criteria[s], thus there are any number of pretenders, proper servants of St James, in the wings waiting for the call.

There is yet more to be dwelt upon — all the stuff that goes with our choice of hereditary monarchy: the parades and brass; horseguards; tiaras; dresses; the inequality; wives with wombs; badly behaved pets; suppressed princesses, who never speak; Anglicans only; horses (lot of horses); shooting parties; and Scottish dancing at Balmoral; a team that is really German; the men in kilts; and a totally non-modern family, despite appearances to the contrary.

“Yes”, we cry loudly, “we pledge our loyalty wholeheartedly. We will not give you up. We will not abandon you.” In the frigid air of yet another capital Trooping of the Colour for our monarch’s birthday, we seriously need to get a grip. In all honesty, why not?

What works for the British and their class ridden, unequal society does not suit us. Their royals, our royal family too, are not Australian citizens. They do not live here while the “royal personage” whom we mostly see is their portly Governor-General, pottering around being “a nice bloke” in fancy dress, with an occasional glimpse beyond the high-security gates of Yarralumla, his grand house in Canberra.

Is there really any Australian – apart from this Prime Minister – who believes we should be regularly “visited” by our head of state, her kids and grandkids filling in time — and that we should foot the bill when we are supposedly deep in debt?

It can be no coincidence Abbott is so keen on knighthoods and has one eye firmly on his coming reward from the sovereign for perpetuating the monarchy. We can only place our trust in Charles or William to have more sense. We cannot influence them.

It does us no service to have our own royal family out of sight “over there” most of the time. Our concept of the Queen is that she is a nice woman in her many castles, drifting around in golden carriages, dripping in jewels and furs, when she is, in fact, remote and largely unknown to us after 63 years on our throne. We have no real idea what authority she wields over us, over our government. What is out of sight is indeed out of mind.

Instead, Australians should be constantly regaled with their activities, events, ceremonies, also their ways. Their faces should be in our faces. There is, in fact, lots to see and much more to know.

There should be a compulsory feed on all Oz Twitter accounts of the indefatigable @RoyalCentral. A day or two ago, its posts purred with photos of some important royals arriving at Cowes for some ceremony or other in small boats.

After the recent newbie turned up, there was breathless anticipation of the Princess Charlotte merchandise. We need to know all this immediately and in minute detail.

We would do well to wallow in celebrity monarchy. How we will rejoice in the plotting and scheming revealed on Will the evil Camilla succeed in her devious plans to unseat the Queen? There is definitely something for us to learn, such talent!

Could it be that we would find our own royals even more unnerving and tiresome than the Kardashians?

We do not need them anyway. We have enough cardinals, Bishops, Abbotts – all with fancy frocks – rich Packers, Murdochs, Rineharts and Pratts of our own.

The Mountbatten-Windsors and Waleses are a symbol of our colonisation writ large. Getting rid of them could become the cri de coeur of we, the people; a prolonged wail of anguish, deep from the burning red, desert heart of our own land.

Until we break from these people and re-form our government in our own image, Australia is certain to remain stuck in the past.

This is the real challenge of the Queen’s birthday holiday. Think about it.

Sarah Brasch is the National Convenor of Women for an Australian Republic. You can follow Sarah on Twitter @ozfemrepublic.

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