Royal Marriage, Republican Myth
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Sunday, 27 March 2005

One of the low points of the 1999 camaign was the republican mantra that a No vote was a vote for King Charles and Queen Camilla. After their landslide loss, you would have thought that the Australian Republican Movement would have realized that gutter tactics do not work. The constitutional monarchists could have campaigned in 1999 on the standing ,respect and popularity of The Queen . We did not . We restricted our campaign to constitutional issues. The ARM has learned nothing from our example.

The opinion provided to the British Minister for Constitutional Affairs that on the accession of Charles, his marriage would be recognized has thrown Australia's republicans into paroxysms of delight. Any objective observer would have realized that the Minister was only stating the obvious. It is accepted that on marriage a wife may style herself, say Mrs Jack Jones, although many today do not. If she is married to a knight, she may style herself Lady X - but some do not, including the Governor of New South Wales. Males do not do this, reflecting the previous legal inequality between the sexes.

Times have changed, but all the Minister was saying was that on Charles accession, his marriage would be recognized and his wife could use the title Queen Consort. This is a courtesy title, and should not be confused with the title Queen Regnant, the reigning or actual Queen, as Elizabeth II is.

Constitutionally, there is provision for only one monarch or sovereign- the King Regnant or Queen Regnant. Only once have we known both husband and wife to be sovereigns, and that was in the unusual case of William and Mary after Parliament decided that the flight from Britain of James II constituted an abdication. There is no convention concerning the courtesy title, if any, of the husband of a sovereign. Philip of Spain, as the husband of Queen Mary I, was styled King of England, but he was clearly King Consort. He lost this title when Mary died.

Victoria would have preferred Albert to have been styled King Consort, but her ministers would only agree to the title Prince Consort. Prince Philip received no title on the accession of The Queen. It has been decided that on the marriage to Prince Charles, his wife, Mrs Camilla Parker –Bowles, will be styled as the Duchess of Cornwall, rather then Princess of Wales. (Charles is also Duke of Cornwall).

On his accession to the throne , she will be styled the Princess Consort. Just as any wife may wish to be known by her maiden name, and be referred to as Ms X, or, as was the solicitor to whom I was articled, Miss X, so Camilla will be known by another title. This will probably be done by the Letters Patent, that is by the future King.

The republican movement actually argues that this storm in a teacup is relevant to their tired and worn out attempt to tear the founding institution of our country, the Australian Crown, from our constitutional system. Of course it is not. This is no more than a vain attempt by a small band of the disgruntled to distract Australians from the fact that there is no case for change.

THE MEDIA

It all began, as we have seen, with the announcement by a British minister that Mrs Camilla Parker-Bowles will in all respects be treated as the wife of Prince Charles . A previously unknown British MP then made some wild accusations against the Prince about this, together with a kerbside legal opinion on the constitutions and laws of the UK, Australia, New Zealand ,Canada and twelve other countries! In Australia, the republican movement reacted hysterically, just as they did over Tom Robertson’s great painting of Federation which is formally the property of The Queen of Australia, and which hangs on permanent loan in Australia. The republicans made fools of themselves then in demanding The Queen give the painting back. It was as silly and vacuous as demanding the Queen give back all of the Crown land in Australia, although the Carr government in New South Wales, which has proved so sterling in the administration of the state ‘s services and infrastructure to find the time to legislate to change the name of Crown land to state land. It is clear that the republican movement just does not accept the people’s clear decision in 1999 not to become a republic.

As one correspondent, David Byers, ever so succinctly put it in the online Daily Telegraph of 14 March, 2005:

Sir

 

Just a quick reminder to all those trying to revive the push for an Australian president. We had a vote on a republic in 1999. In it 72 per cent of Federal electorates voted no as did all the states and the Northern Territory, plus a 55 per cent no majority overall. Please accept it and leave us alone.

Yours etc

But of course the republican movement was all over the media, including an opinion piece in The Australian on Wednesday, 23 March 2005 In response The Australian published the following two letters, both of which were edited.

The accepted practice is that unless a letter writer makes it a condition that her or his letter be published in full, an editor is entitled to edit the letter, unless this does violence to its meaning.

We have bracketed those parts of the two letters deleted in the editing:

Sir,

[Deleted:ARM head Allison Henry (Australian 23/3) repeatedly refers to the Queen and Prince Charles as Australia’s current and future “head of state” – misrepresenting the fact that this term simply doesn’t exist in either our Constitution or any key legal or legislative documents and seems to have been invented by the Australian Republican Movement in the Australian context to justify their position.

In fact,( end of deletion)]

IF Camilla does become Queen, she will have the same direct relationship to Australia as the present Duke of Edinburgh: the wife/husband of the Sovereign. No big deal. No special powers. No change from now. Republicans should grow up and stop playing childish games. Their obsession with Kath and Kim-inspired look-at-me arguments shows the emptiness of their agenda.

Yours etc.,
Brett Hogan

Sir,

It was appropriate that the National Director of the ARM did not repeat (23 March 2005) the message she gave to the electronic media that Camilla would become Queen of Australia. Constitutionally, and by legislation, (The Royal Style and Titles Act, 1953) that title is reserved for a reigning female sovereign. Camilla will never be Queen of Australia. In addition, the courtesy title, Queen Consort, will not be used. [Deleted:When the marriage was announced we were told there was a surge in the membership of the ARM. But a journalist told me that when he asked for details, he was told that these were not yet available!

Surge or not, the republican movement is coy about their current agenda. This is to divert millions and millions more from schools, health and transport into the little known plan for massive constitutional change which Mark Latham specifically endorsed before the election.Under this convoluted and expensive plan Australians are to be worn down by being required to vote in three federal plebiscites and a referendum, and heaven knows how many state ones. This is designed to result in the model Mark Latham wanted. Fortunately, republicans like Malcolm Turnbull warn that once Australians understand what a disaster the Latham model would be, it will suffer a defeat greater than in 1999.

Perhaps this explains the ARM's need for the distraction of a storm in teacup about a non-existent title,( end of deletion)]

Yours Sincerely
David Flint

A REPORT FROM LONDON ON THE QUEEN OF AUSTRALIA

Bruce Wilson is the London correspondent of the Sydney Daily Telegraph. He can be guaranteed to report the news from there through the most republican prism.When he reported, incorrectly, that Camilla will become Queen of Australia, I sent this letter to the newspaper, which they commendably published:-

Sir,

Camilla can never be Queen of Australia. Bruce Wilson is mistaken to say she will. (23 March 2005) Just as Prince Philip is not the King of Australia, so the wife of a King of Australia is not the Queen of Australia. This title is reserved for a reigning female sovereign under the Royal Style and Titles Act, 1953. Should Prince Charles become King, it has been decided that the courtesy British title, Queen Consort, not be used. She will be known as the Princess Consort.

Yours Sincerely,
David Flint

Mr Wilson would not lie down and take that from a reader. In a longer letter than mine, published the next day, 25 March 2005, he wrote:

Sir,

David Flint says I got it wrong about Mrs Camilla Parker-Bowles future station. Unless there is legislation, she will become Queen if etc.....

Yours etc

I thought this misleading. So I replied:

Sir,

Bruce Wilson (25/3) skilfully avoids my point. He was mistaken to report, as news, that Mrs Parker -Bowles would become” Queen of Australia”. Mr Wilson also overlooks the fact that many women these days do not use their husband’s names, including any courtesy title. The NSW Governor for example, is known as Professor Bashir.

Similarly on Prince Charles' accession, his wife may decide not to use the courtesy title "Queen Consort." Surely nobody would insist that women must follow the traditional practice if they do not want to.

Yours sincerely,
David Flint

We can be sure of one thing. The republican movement will use any argument, and it seems propose any model, providing they can get rid of the Crown and then something which they now hide , our Flag.

Until next time,
David Flint