Support for the Queen, who remains the head of state in Australia, has not been higher in 20 years.
Note: This article is from the Guardian.
With nostalgia and a renewed investment in imperial-sounding titleage, the Australian public will welcome the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their eight-month-old Prince George of Cambridge to Sydney on Wednesday.
In March 1983, aged just nine months, William made his first overseas appearances during Charles and Diana’s tour of Australia and New Zealand. They were often brief. Just a few minutes on the Tarmac at Alice Springs airport when they touched down in Australia, for example. William was carried off the plane by a nanny, Charles complained about the flies, and the 21-year-old Diana pecked the baby on the cheek before he was whisked back up and flown off to a nursery in Melbourne.
Australia will be hoping for more time with the royal child on this occasion.
Support for the Queen, who remains the head of state in Australia, has not been higher in 20 years. Polling in February revealed that only 39% of Australians supported the establishment of an Australian republic, with 41.6% opposing it.
Riding the wave of aristocratic fervour, Tony Abbott announced in March he had taken an executive decision to introduce a new tier of honours, bringing back the titles of knights and dames. Critics saw the prime minister’s move as a return to the dark ages but it had the backing of many in Australia’s rightwing press. “God Save the Queen,” said the Murdoch Brisbane tabloid the Courier-Mail, on a retro front page.
Back in 1983 New Zealand was the second point of call. No doubt a sore point for the vocal pro-monarchist lobby in Australia, who have had to wait their turn this time around as the royals complete nine days on the other side of the Tasman Sea.
Mark Salmon, a spokesman for the Australian Monarchist League, said his group, which boasts some 15,000 members, planned to hand out Australian flags at every event the royal attends on their 10 days in Australia.
Did the league have any celebratory events planned itself? “No. We don’t want to be a distraction to the official visit,” came the duly humble response.
And what of the republicans? David Morris, national director of the Australian Republican Movement, said he did not expect any protests. “They’re very welcome,” he said, “but affection is not allegiance.”
The couple face a wide-ranging itinerary. From the formal – an engagement with the prime minister in Sydney – to the twee: a visit to the Royal Easter show. The royal couple will visit Taronga Zoo on Easter Day to visit the bilby enclosure. One of the tiny endangered marsupials is named in the baby prince’s honour, a gift from the ex-prime minister Kevin Rudd, who did not swear allegiance to the Queen on his first stab at the job back in 2007.
Back in late July, on the day of George’s birth, it took Rudd nearly a full day to announce Australia’s official gift to the newborn prince. New Zealand obviously outdid Australia, announcing its gift, an expertly knitted “fine laced” shawl, hours earlier and staging a 21-gun salute outside parliament.
After the royals visibly enjoyed their time with the Kiwis – complete with traditional buttock tattoos, baby playdates, and a sail on the Auckland harbour – Australia will be sure to pull out all the stops come Wednesday.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010