The Queen's final visit to Australia

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Well, well, for the 16th time in her reign of 59 years – there’s another Australian visit by the monarch looming. Just what is going on, asks Barry Everingham?

The Queen is head of that disparate of group of, in the main, tin-pot bankrupt states called the Commonwealth and that’s why , it seems, she’ll be coming here later this year when CHOGM meets in Perth on October 28-30.

God only knows what the visit will cost the Australian taxpayers – presumably we’ll need to kick in on behalf of Commonwealth countries who are broke – but whatever it is we no longer need these expensive public relations exercises to prop up a system which is widely believed will die on its feet when the monarch eventually dies.

Naturally, the Queen will be accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh — a man whose only claim to fame is his rudeness, racism and well-earned reputation as a bully.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth and her husband Prince Philip stand next to Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed during their visit at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi November 24, 2010. (Photo courtesy Reuters).

I recall with distaste an episode which shocked many of us on the royal tour of the Arabian Gulf in the 1970’s.

On the tour’s last day we were with the royal party in the unbelievably beautiful town of Nizwah, in Oman.

It was a relaxed visit, security was at a minimum and formality had been almost abandoned.

The Queen and her party wandered off to market and a few of us waiting for her to come back so we could return to the capital, Muscat. Phillip was speaking to a few officials and standing quite close to where a few of us were standing, when suddenly he exploded: where’s the Queen? Has anyone seen the Queen?

I’d been watching her head for the market and decided not to go along — the tour was almost over and I’d decided there was nothing more to report.

How wrong I was.

I said to Phillip: she’s over there, pointing to the market and adding, nothing will happen here, Oman’s the safest place on earth.

Right on cue, Phillip looked daggers at me and said, in front of his super polite hosts: with these fucking Arabs anything could happen, and then he stormed off after his wife.

Such is the measure of the man this mild mannered woman and the British public has had to endure for so many years. But, that’s her and their problem, not ours.

I find it strange that the Commonwealth officials find it necessary to subject the Queen, at her age, to undertake what, in anyone’s language, will be a gruelling trip. It’s common knowledge she has an abiding affection for the old Empire and for that she must be congratulated, although I have to say its use and relevance escapes me.

This coming tour will be no doubt be the monarch’s last to her antipodean outpost where, poor woman, she’ll be subjected to the fawning and grovelling for which we have become so justly famous. Having said that, she will be and certainly should be, shown the respect she has always shown us, although it does remain a mystery what, as Queen of Australia she has ever actually done for us.

Leaving that aside, this farewell tour should go like clockwork and those who still subscribe to the out-dated and irrelevant system under which we operate will be happy while the remainder will be happy we will probably never see such a visit again.  
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