Friday, October 21, 2011

A royal dilemma

It’s a big week here in Australia because the Boss is in town. No not Bruce Springsteen, her majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

While many will argue she’s not really the boss, Australia is a constitutional monarchy, so technically she’s still sort of in charge, even if it’s not in a day-to-day government sense.

Her Maj & the Duke arrive in Oz
 As with every royal visit from Her Maj, the monarchists line the streets to see ‘the wave’ and the republicans come out with their protests that ‘it’s about time we stood on our own because what does she really do anyway’. 

The Queen has visited Australia a lot in her 85 years, as have her children and while this is my first as an adult, I know they’ve always been a big deal in Australia. The little town I grew up in actually paved a few rural roads for a royal visit about 40 years ago. Yep, big deal.

Julia Gillard sans curtsy
There’s always a right ‘royal gaffe’ during a visit to keep the media and masses entertained, and the current one is no exception. And the first gaffe didn’t come from the Duke of Edinburgh this time; it was our Prime Minster Julia Gillard straight out of the gates, as soon as Her Maj stepped off her British Airways flight. Yep, Julia didn’t curtsy to the Queen, and shock horror, she chose not to.

I’m not going to pretend I wouldn’t curtsy to the Queen - I think if I ever met her, I would. But it’s the 21st century people; can’t a woman choose to greet the Queen in the either of the accepted protocols? Yes, the curtsy is the way it should traditionally be done but the PM has defended herself. She said she was told by royal minders she could choose if she wanted to follow the curtsy protocol when meeting the Queen. The English media will probably refer to Australia jokingly as ‘the colonies’ at some point during this visit, so I’ve got no problem with our PM acting like a true ‘uncouth’ and not curtsying. You go girl. And it's not like she wasn't behaving in a respectable way. She still bowed and shook the Queen's hand politely.

Having the Queen in town makes a lot of Aussies think about which side of the monarchist fence they stand on. I will admit I’m a fence sitter, but probably lean towards being a monarchist for a few reasons:

      The Royal Wedding

Hello? This goes without saying. Who didn’t love the Windsors during that royal frenzy? I suspect a lot of people who didn’t have an opinion on the royal wedding had an opinion about Pippa Middleton and THAT dress. If you were one of the minority (or men) who didn’t care about the wedding let me remind you even fiercely independent countries (like the US) got sucked into the royal wedding tornado. On a more serious note, the wedding (as I’m sure the royal family was banking on) renewed a lot of faith and interest in the British royal family. And why wouldn’t it? The couple seems lovely and down-to-earth, with their feet planted firmly in a more realistic world than many other high-profile royals.

THE kiss
The Tudors

In case you haven’t seen it, The Tudors is a TV series chronicling the life and times (and wives) of the infamous King Henry VIII. No only was this series a pretty accurate and easily digestible version of the history of England, and one of the most famous royal dynasties, it also had all the drama and sex of a good episode of Melrose Place. Need I Say more? It’s renewed my interest in British history and the royals to say the least.

There’s also been a string of popular royal family-based movies in the past few years: The King’s Speech, The Young Victoria and The Queen.

R for royal, R for R-rated
Family history

This is a bit of a personal (and narcissistic) one, but I’ve been more interested in English history in general since I found out that one side of my family (like lots of Aussies) comes from the motherland. I thought my dad’s side of the family was German up until a few years ago, and I’ve been looking into our English family history ever since. I may or may not still be entertaining some unlikely fantasy that there’s a royal family link somewhere in my lineage.

So what do you think? Are you excited about Her Maj being in town, or could you care less? And what about the curtsy issue?

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