Thursday, 6 June 2013

God save our Queen (and others like her)

Blame Downton Abbey or call it "old age", but like my grandmother before me (and possibly hers before her) I'm becoming more engrossed with the Royals with each passing year.

And not just the British Royals.   

Why limit myself to just one royal family, when there's a whole royal world out there to explore?

The Royal Palace at Fez, Morocco
Of course there's the Danish Royals with "our" Princess Mary, but in recent years I've discovered the Swedish Royals, the Norwegian Royals and the Dutch Royals.  They've even got some tucked away in Morocco, Thailand, Japan and Jordan!

Why, I feel like I "see" some of these royal families more often them some members of my own family.

Interestingly, I've never actually met any member of any royal family,  though I've wandered through a fair few of their palaces and have seen quite a few boats named after them.

The Lady Diana at Chester

What's disturbing about this royal love affair is that I used to be staunchly anti-monarchy.

Bizarrely, I still am.   

I think Australia does need to become a republic, but I also see a role for the Royals... just not here in Australia.

At our primary school in the early 1980s, we still sang God Save The Queen as the national anthem, before Advance Australia Fair decided we were "girt by sea".

Then I thought it was preposterous that we should be singing about some lady who lived on the other side of the world.  What did she know about my life?   Did she play handball under the classrooms during the lunch break?

But with the passing years, I've come to appreciate the history associated with royal families.

"Our" Princess Mary

They represent a history unique to their land stretching back centuries that impacted generations, and people who have played integral roles, both good and bad, in shaping their respective countries.

Where once I saw classism and the unequal distribution of wealth, I now see important national icons (and some pretty impressive clothes, castles and jewels).

While sometimes I think it would be nice to be a royal, I'm not naive to think it's all garden parties and masquerade balls.  Instead, it seems being born a royal today means, whether they wanted it or not, a life filled with hospital wing openings, shaking hands with strangers, and trying to inspire the uninspired.
The Swedish Royal Family's summer palace, Drottningholm Palace
There's also something appealing about having an apolitical national figurehead and the pomp and ceremony that comes with it.  

Someone that is a country's constant and not just warming a seat that's up for grabs every election cycle.  

While the British Queen is meant to fulfil that job description in Australia, it's fair to say she rarely turns up to her "Australian office". 

Royal Palace in Copenhagen
And given Australians' fondness for felling "tall poppies", it seems unlikely that we would ever be able to single out a replacement royal family from our own ranks.  Who would we appoint?  The Packers?  The Rineharts?  The Murdochs?

No.  Whether it is years or decades away, it seems inevitable that Australia will eventually be a republic.

In the meantime, the Queen's gift to us is this Queen's Birthday long weekend.

And I love her for it!

Buckingham Palace gates: as close as I'll probably get

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