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Friday, 11 May 2018

I’m in favour of keeping the Windsors

Donald Trump changes everything. With his election in the US, all bets are off. Democracy takes one in the guts. I have a friend I meet with at the pub every couple of weeks and we have been talking a lot recently about the Windsors and their relationship with the Australian political settlement. We both agree that Charles, who is next in line (he’ll be Charles III) and William, his son, who is the next in line after that (and will be William V) are pretty sure bets. Nothing fancy. Good family men. Safe pairs of hands. Raising their children with dedication.

The monarch who pioneered the art of raising children well was Victoria, in the 19th century. Her hatred of the proto-modernist painter Turner is as famous as her dedication to her family. The monarchy in the United Kingdom had taken a few hits over the centuries and Victoria was as wise as she was long-lived. If you can’t have real temporal power – by her time most power had devolved to Parliament – you can at least be a good parent. Her family had a reputation for poor relations between the generations. In the hundred years or so after the Hanoverians were installed on the UK throne, none of the Georges got along with their fathers. But Victoria put her energies into making a good family. Following the death of his first wife in a tragic traffic accident, Charles has done the same thing.

There’s no comparison between Charles and Trump. I gave my opinion to someone on Twitter and the republican movement’s account picked up on the tweet and told me that according to the model they favour a proposed governor-general for Australia who is not one of the Windsors would still be appointed by Parliament. The current settlement where the prime minister is appointed by the party room of the party that wins the most seats in the lower house in a federal election, would be retained. The prime minister would still be head of government and commander-in-chief of the armed forces.

I don’t have much of a problem with this kind of settlement but I still think that party should be eliminated from the role of governor-general. The way the governor-general is currently appointed, by the ruling party under the prime minster, seems to me to be a doable solution. It’s the same way that the governors of the states are appointed. When the ruling party loses an election the governor-general does not change. And the governor-general has no involvement in party activities. The only way that I would agree to abolishing the Windsors would be under such conditions.

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