Wednesday, 8 March 2006

God Shave the Queen

There's an ongoing debate going on in Australia at the moment: During the upcoming opening ceremony for the Commonwealth Games, about to take place in Melbourne in a week's time, should they play God Save the Queen as a tribute to one Mrs Beth Winsdor or should they just stick to the Australian anthem.
As interesting as this debate may be, and I have to say that for the last two weeks or two it was a major source of jokes (especially when you read the debates going on in the newspapers' letters sections), it is but a mirror to an ongoing debate in Australia on whether it should continue being a part of the British Empire or whatever it's called, thus having the queen as its supreme commander, or whether Australia should become an independent republic. As ludicrous as this debate may seem to me, it draws passionate reactions from the public.
Although I suspect you already know what I am about to say when I state my opinion on this issue, I will say it just as well (because it's fun).
For a start, I find it ridiculous that my Australian Passport's first page says something like "the queen asks you to grant safe passage to this guy that holds this passport". I don't remember ever having anything to do with this queen and I would prefer her to leave me alone. And as songs go, a song that mentions two of the worst ever man made institutions in one breath cannot be a top of the pops hit for me.
To move on the the more constructive side of augmenting, here is why I think Australia should become a republic, fair and square:
1. The English monarchy is not exactly what one would refer to as an example for good behaviour. You wouldn't want your kids to be like them; I'm not talking about Henry the 8th and I'm not even mentioning the articles that pop up from time to time linking them as Nazi aficionados, I'm just talking of all the shenanigans that take place in that family on a regular basis.
2. The entire concept of the British Empire is way past its due date. There's not much of an empire left to begin with, and I think that the primary beneficiaries of this are the English people themselves. Imperialism, although still existing in abundance, is something that should not be prolonged but one of the few things that should indeed be made extinct. The Middle East and Africa are reminders enough of its crimes.
3. As relevance goes, the royal family is as relevant to Australia as a fart in Buckingham Palace is to the atmosphere in Melbourne. Yes, Australia owes a lot of its heritage to Britain, but it has been an independent entity for enough time now to be significantly different to merit its independence. One only needs to visit both countries to witness the changes, or to see how supporters of both national teams treat their counterparts; you will not find much respect in there.
4. But first and foremost, I fail to understand how in these times someone could be made citizen supreme on the basis of nothing but being born to the right parents. It defies logic. I hate to think of having anyone elected into such a role in the first place, but for lack of any other choice I would rather elect one than have one born into the role. The fact there is an argument on the concept in the first place means that this supposed source of authority and unity becomes a cause for division instead. If the British people and some of the other people of Europe want to have their representative selected this way then good on them - they're democracies - but I will never be able to comprehend what goes in their minds when they do that.
That said, I severely doubt Australia will become a republic any time soon. There are several reasons for that:
1. There are enough politically unaware and generally naive people here who think life is a fairy tale and like having a fairy tale like ruler. It gives all the cheap magazines something to gossip about, for a start.
2. Australia now has a princess of its own: An ex Tasmanian real estate agent married the crown prince of Denmark. Now you know what I think of real estate agents (and if you don't: fucking major bastards), but even if what I think does not apply to her, she is no longer an Australian citizen; and besides, her being a princess does not magically authenticate the institution. But for enough people over here it boosted the fairy tale element of it all.
3. There are enough people of English origins over here that have a hard time seeing their beloved country falling over to the hands of bloody immigrants (especially those sub human people of Middle Eastern appearance). They would still like to show everyone who's boss around here, and one way of doing that is establishing their former boss as everyone's boss. Facts like the Aborigines being here tens of thousands of years before the first ever king or the fact that in many other ways they feel mostly contempt to England or the fact that their families left England for some very good reasons 100 years ago do not deter this most basic of fear related reflexes. Things go a lot further here: It explains why all the major stake holders in this country, from media celebrities through big time managers to politicians are mostly Anglo Saxon, at a rate that is way higher than their proportion in the population.
As I said, an interesting argument, through which one can learn a lot about Australian society and its state of mind. However, unlike other issues Australia needs to tackle, this one is not a truly troubling one; like it or not, the queen has zero effect on Australian society. It's all theoretical, which means one can sit back and have a bit of good, relaxing fun.

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