Australian Mary Donaldson met her Danish Prince Charming during the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, married her dream man, became Crown Princess of Denmark, and now has given birth to a future King of Denmark.
The two countries, particularly Denmark, have gone wild with celebrations to welcome the young future Danish King, to be named Christian. Viking-types bonfires of joy were lit.
While the newly arrived royalty’s role in Denmark is clearly defined and will be well managed and planned, what does this auspicious and joyous birth holds for Australia, that is still divided by the Republican referendum just a couple of years back. Many Republicans had not been satisfied that the referendum was even-handedly conducted by an ardent monarchist PM.
The Australian republican debate cuts across political party lines as John Howard’s deputy, Federal Treasurer Peter Costello is a known Republican, as are many of the ruling Liberal Party Ministers and leaders.
In the referendum, John Howard as PM set conditions and directions in the referendum in such a manner obviously aimed to scuttle the Republican proposal, namely for Australia to be a Republic. Also, a combination of tactics by the monarchist movement ensured the republicans lost the referendum.
First there was the fear campaign - nonsensical information like Australia becoming a German Weimar Republic, or having presidents like some of the world’s worst Republican Presidents. The Aussie public were constantly reminded of draconian dictators.
Then there was the constitutional lie – monarchists claimed the Governor General was already the ‘Head of State’ which of course he wasn’t, therefore there wasn't any need to change the constitutional arrangements.
The monarchist campaign was one of the most underhanded and disgraceful ever seen in Australia polictics as they realised that a modern Australia was (almost) ready to become a Republic. Even wonderful pal, the USA, had to be reassigned (temporarily of course) to the derogatory example of a lousy republican system.
Then the tactic of making the referendum question deliberately long, meandering and convoluted was adopted. From Australian experience any referendum question that was to difficult to understand was always voted against. Instead of a simple “Do you want an Australian to be your Head of State?” the PM brought in a special writer to pen not only a long winded paragraph as a question, containing several factors designed to motivate confused voters to denote a ‘NO’, but even included a second question in the unnecessary proposed preamble to a new republican constitution, that was a giveaway it was plain sabotage.
The Republican Movement lost the referendum even before it started. Most people, except for the dreamers, knew it.
But will the fact that an Aussie lassie becoming the Crown Princess of Denmark and bearing the future King of that country reinforce the Australian monarchist movement?
In fact, no! Quite the opposite actually.
This is because the Republicans (if they can't get their republican way) and even some monarchists will now campaign for Mary Donaldson or her son to be the Queen (or King) of Australia. They will argue that if Australia has to have a constitutional royalty, then let’s have one that’s Aussie. Payback sabotage?
And the core of the Aussie monarchists will go into a tizzy and object to that, because it’s not any monarchy that’ll do but only the English one, even though the British royal family is German in bloodline now, and Greek in the future when Prince Charles ascends to the throne.
It’s more than just the question of monarchy per se – it’s the link to the “old country”, jolly good old England. In fact, when a NSW parliamentarian had proposed that Mary Donaldson be proclaimed as the Queen of Australia when she becomes Queen of Denmark, one of Australia's most ardent monarchists David Flint poo-poo-ed that suggestion away as a joke.
The pressure in fact will now be on the monarchists rather than the Republicans.