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ACM Home arrow Convenor's Column arrow This is a royal watcher?

This is a royal watcher? Print E-mail
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Sunday, 23 April 2006

Of course, he had to do it.

Mr. Barry Everingham, that self styled “royal watcher”, has concocted a farrago of rumour and spin in yet another nasty attack on our Sovereign. Nobody would have noticed it, but for the fact it appeared in The Australian  not just on any day, but on  Friday, 21 April, 2006 –the Queen’s Birthday. The headline summarizes his groundless attack : “After Diana, it took a PM to save the Queen. Not a foot wrong in 80 years? Not so.”  This rubbish, in the national newspaper, cannot be ignored.

 

 

At least  Mr. Mike Carlton’s weekly column in the Sydney Morning Herald on 22 April, 2006 (“Dinner with Her Maj? In your dreams.”)  was pretty  harmless, but it lacked spirit. Even the joke about me fell flat. Has Mr. Carlton finally realized the Australian people are not interested in a republic? Mr. Carlton apparently has a contract to produce  a certain number of words each week, and this week that showed. Should he  bring in a co-writer, perhaps  Peter FitzSimons  who now co-hosts his talk back programme?  After all Mr. FitzSimons  dreamed up the  mate for a head of state campaign, although we do suspect that he and all those who went along with it, particularly the Doctors Gerard and Ann  Henderson, are desperately trying to forget it.

But Barry Everingham's piece was  a continuation of the bile he constantly pours out on The Queen, the Royal Family and the Governor- General.

So who is Barry Everingham? He describes himself as “ a Melbourne-based writer, (who) has been a commentator and writer on the British royal family for 30 years.”  He surprisingly doesn’t mention the fact that he has a  unique distinction among Australia’s journalists. He is the only journalist ever to be expelled from the Canberra Parliamentary Press Gallery. I wonder  what you would have to do to achieve that.

 According to Senator Ray (Hansard of 7 December, 1983) this was for  “being found (in 1973) , without authority, in a suite of offices occupied by ( Prime Minister) Gough Whitlam”.

It is beyond me what any journalist would go into the prime minister’s office. Perhaps he had mistaken the door –they all look much  the same on old Parliament House, a much more pleasant -and democratic-  building than the Ceausescu style compound  that Malcolm Fraser decided should replace it.  Perhaps it was all a dreadful mistake. Perhaps the Everingham found in the prime minister’s office was another Everingham. Perhaps it was relative Paul the former Chief Minister of the Northern Territory who had some business with Mr. Whitlam, and someone made a mistake.

And according to Senator Susan Ryan, a well known republican, it was “ widely believed that he was the author of a particularly unpleasant and unattractive little gossip column called 'Betty' “ Apparently the column appeared in a “throwaway” Sunday newspaper as called the Sunday Post. “Certainly , when it reached its demise, no citizen in Canberra regretted its disappearance,” observed Senator Ryan.

Could we assume that with this excellent professional experience, “Betty” decided to become a Royal Watcher?  But not your usual Royal Watcher.

 As I said in my letter to The Australian on 21 April, 2006:

“Sir,

Royal watching, a mix of fact, speculation and rumour at the best of times, is made curiously morbid when its principal purpose is the destruction of the very institution watched. A republican royal watcher is surely an oxymoron. 

It is inconceivable that Mr. Barry Everingham (Opinion 21April) is in the possession of what has been notoriously confidential   –the detail of what passes between The Queen and the British Prime Minister in their regular meetings. And was Mr. Everingham listening to the telephone conversations between The Queen and Prince Charles? Who was his source for their face- to- face conversations?

 

Royal watchers, desperate for a headline, are typically careless with the truth. Recently some of them brazenly rushed to declare that The Queen in Canberra had declared herself in favour of a republic. Of course, she said no such thing –but that didn’t stop them from reporting, even on the ABC, that she had said this.

..Having read Mr. Everingham’s account, I now understand the requirement of some US journals that the editor be privy to all confidentially sourced information. It would stop fantasy being published as fact.

 

Yours etc”

Brett Hogan, ACM’s Victorian Convener wrote:

“Sir,

While monarchists are used to occasional royal writer Barry Everingham's regular pro-republican missives in the daily gossip sheet Crikey where he laughably appears to claim to have been privy to every royal conversation and event since World War II, his recent Opinion Piece (Australian 21/4) takes the cake. 

In launching a vitriolic personal attack on the Queen, Mr. Everingham attributes direct quotes and feelings to the Queen, Prince Charles, Camilla, Tony Blair, Prince Harry, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Spencer Family in relation to the death of Princess Diana. It begs the question - does Mr. Everingham claim to have witnessed September 11 in 2001, the Dismissal in 1975 and Woodstock in 1969 first hand as well? 

Using the death of a much loved member of the Royal Family as an excuse to push his pro-republican views and slur The Queen on her 80th Birthday is pathetic. 

On behalf of Australia's constitutional monarchists and the majority of republicans, who I'm sure are able to distinguish between a political cause and pure vitriol, Happy Birthday Your Majesty.

Yours etc”

Another  letter, one published in The Australian on 22 April, 2006, argued that Barry Everingham was wrong about what had actually happened.

 Mark McGinness, of Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, wrote that in “his enthusiasm to find fault in what most informed commentators agree to be an extraordinary performance by the Queen for more than 50 years, Barry Everingham … has his facts and his players wrong.”

Pointing out Tony Blair had only been  Prime Minister for  12 weeks at the time, he was obviously not in a position to lecture The Queen in the way Everingham fanatasises. Mr. McGinness says it was The Queen’s Private Secretary, Sir Robert Fellowes,  also Diana’s brother-in-law , who  ordered – with The Queen's full agreement – that a plane be sent to Paris with the Prince of Wales. He also ordered that Diana lie in state in the Chapel Royal and that there then be a full state funeral. He says it  was Diana’s family, the Spencers, who initially wanted Diana's body disposed of privately and with a minimum of fuss. And it was Sir Robert Fellowes and The Queen who persuaded the Spencers to change their minds.

 How did Everingham get it so wrong? Mr. Mc.Ginness says “Everingham has been fed – and swallowed hook, line and sinker – spin from one or two very able spin meisters.” He suggests two possiblilities- “ No 10 Downing Street or the prince's former press secretary, Mark Boland, perhaps?”

 

Indeed .
 
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