Monarchists Won’t Mourn Knighthoods

philipLook, Prince Philip is a great man, and he deserves every honor we could award him. But he probably still has no idea he was made an Australian knight. He’s already the consort of the Queen of Australia, the Grand Marshal of the Australian Army and the Australian Air Force, and the Admiral of the Australian Fleet. What was a knighthood going to do? It’s like awarding someone the Nobel Prize in Literature and also sticking an Oprah’s Book Club seal on their book. It’s not bad, it’s just relatively not great. So I’m sure he isn’t personally cut about the overwhelmingly negative reaction to having been knighted.

The real question is, does the re-abolition of Australian knighthoods signal a new ‘republicanism by stealth’? The answer, in fact, is that it doesn’t. This can only be good for the monarchist movement.

As it seems to me, Australians—particularly young Australians—have never been more inclined toward monarchism. This has a great deal to do with the lengths to which monarchist organizations like the Australian Monarchist League and Australians for Constitutional Monarchy have gone to re-brand the institution itself. No longer is it widely seen as a vestige of empire, but as the uniquely Australian manifestation of a proud and ancient institution. Case in point: only republican provocateurs refer to Elizabeth II as ‘the Queen of England’. Monarchists have very successfully made her known by her proper title, ‘the Queen of Australia’—or, simply, the Queen.

The institution and awarding of knighthoods was by no means a public preoccupation before Prince Philip was dubbed, but a nation overwhelmingly attached to the Australian monarchy was immediately and understandably appalled by the symbolic gesture. Why, with all the deserving Australians in politics, sport, and culture, was a knighthood immediately given to a lavishly titled royal? Tony Abbott didn’t seem interested in using royal honors to benefit Australians so much as perpetuating the royal honors system for its own sake.

So the charge of ‘republicanism by stealth’ is a complete exaggeration. Turnbull himself might oppose knighthoods on republican grounds, but this was also the will of a nation that is otherwise decidedly monarchist.

Don’t fret, monarchists, the end of knighthoods is but a return to the status quo. The unambiguously Australian monarchy continues to command the respect of Australians, especially younger ones.

  • Mr Johnson

    The young royals had been doing a marvellous job reinvigorating support for the Monarchy in Australia. Intelligent, handsome, approachable and surprisingly normal young men. No more, the stuffy, left leaning Prince of Wales, who would probably even hold his nose at shaking hands with Tony, no matter how supportive he was. But then, we had the reintroduction of knighthoods, which was mostly met with a ‘meh, so what’. For a while, it looked supportable once the likes of Cosgrove got one. But then came the clanger – Phillip – this horrified even Mr. Abbott’s supporters, none more so I’ll wager than Monarchists who knew what would surely follow. Suddenly, the perception of undeserving royalty hit 10 on the entitlement Richter Scale (talk about adding your own barnacles). It was only ever going to be for a short while, because if Turnbull didn’t scrap it, then Labor surely would have.

  • [email protected]

    May I offer the following comments?
    The Honours “scrapped” by Mr Turnbull were never “Imperial Honours”. They were distinctiv Australian Honours conferred by the Queen of Australia upon the advice of Her Majesty’s Australian PM. They undoubtedly gave deserved and genuine pleasure and satisfaction to those who accepted them and so far as I can see they did no harm whatsoever to those who either were not offered them or who declined an offer of them.
    What, precisely, is thought by the chattering classes and their ABC to have been “anachronistic” about these particular Honours? Their sole purpose was to give a very special form of public recognition to very special services rendered to our Nation. What was “anachronistic” or, indeed, problematic in any other rational sense, with the giving of such recognition to Dame Marie Bashir, to take the obvious example?
    In the case of Prince Philip, the comferment was handled with breathtaking incompetence and lack of judgment. Even so, the matter surely did not warrant the outpouring of vicious and malicious comment from the usual suspects in the chattering classes and their ABC. One suspects that the venom was aimed, not so much at the Prince, as at the then PM, the relentless and surly loutishness of whose treatment by the media is a particularly ugly chapter in Australian journalism.
    If the critics and the carpers are serious about their objection to “anachronisms”, would it not be more logically convincing for them to advocate the abolition entirely of the Order of Australia?
    They are, of course, in large part obviously not serious, because many of them have accepted with great public relish,not a unitary Honour, but an Honour that is but one of a number of hierarchically graded degrees: AC, AO, AM, OAM.
    As for Mr Turnbull, would it not have sufficed for him to have made a simple, brief and dignified statement to the effect that.while ever he might be PM there would be no further recommendations for either an AK or an AD? An unnecessary gesture of facile populism so early in his tenure as PM is not a reassuring augury for the statesmanlikexhandling of the infinitely more difficult decisions that are so obviously coming to the boil.
    How sad that the mean of spirit and the small of mind have once again carried the day.

    Mr Sully
    10th November 2015

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