King Charles –the real issues
(An anonymous contribution for career protection reasons…)

Barry Everingham and the eternally forelock-tugging David Flint both seem to
have got it wrong over the real implications of recent “royal” visits. What
really matters are the constitutional implications for Australia of Charles
Windsor’s aspiration to be our monarch – indeed, “sovereign” as Flint so nicely
puts it.. Most believe that he would be our Head of State, notwithstanding
misleading monarchical obfuscation on that point.

Charles recently made a rare visit to Australia – a country he probably
believes to be one of his future “realms”. Its citizens his “subjects”. It
could be his last before becoming our king -his mum is getting no younger. The
visit was an opportunity for a serious dialogue about how Charles might act as
monarch – if we still misguidedly continue to tolerate such an undemocratic,
unpatriotic and anachronistic office. But our media, as usual, mainly pandered
to the bloke by engaging in sycophancy and superficiality rather than any
insightful probing of substance. Where was the Denton/Windsor interview?

This is a man who is reported still to resent being rejected as Governor
General over 20 years ago. It seems his mum was sensible enough to have acted
on the Government’s advice. The question is, would Charles have acted on that
advice in her place? Or will King Charles believe he can appoint his own
representative? Could we see Governor General William Windsor appointed, with
training wheels on his inherited divine right to rule? Or Harry, as a
consolation prize after flunking Sandhurst?

This is a man who is reported to believe that, at least in Britain, there is a
higher accountability of Ministers – to the monarch. An accountability that he
believes is ordained by his version of a god whose authority does not prevail
among most modern Australians. Would King Charles nurse the view that the
Government is accountable to him or his representative, rather than to the
people?

This is a man who appears to have strong, eccentric, views on issues of public
policy. He uses his wealth and unmerited status to promote those views. Would
King Charles believe that he was free to continue to promote these personal
views, rather than acting quiescently and compliantly as Australia generally
requires of any hereditary Head of State that we may tolerate?

This is a man who is clearly out of touch with community standards,
experience, and expectations – in Britain, never mind here in a more
egalitarian Australia. The fuss over the degree of pretentiousness in the title
of his new wife is indicative. Will King Charles “require” the curtseying,
shallow deference, and forelock-tugging that he already appears to expect
routinely?

The more thoughtful of our monarchists fear change would lead to unforeseen
constitutional consequences. A reasonable concern, although overstated.

These monarchists claim that, if it isn’t broken it doesn’t need fixing (a
blatant fallacy because timely maintenance, adjustment and replacement can
always best head off damaging breakdown). But they blindly ignore the looming
risk of unforeseen and damaging change following a royalist succession.

A King Charles seems unlikely to “reign over us” in quite the same relaxed and
comfortable way that his mum has done for the past 50-odd years. He certainly
seems set to “reign over” rather than serve under us. His pretensions,
arrogance, archaic attitudes, limited life experience, denial of merit, and
presumption of inherited status and rights could carry their own risk for
constitutional stability. Especially in the face of the literal reading of the
monarch’s constitutional authority that we might expect him to embrace. There
is no sign of the commitment to service that his mother voiced on her
accession. There is every sign of a commitment to status. There is no sign of
acceptance of the supremacy of the people. There is every sign of delusion
about his own supremacy.

Since we could soon be stuck with this man of minimal merit, we should have
subjected him to a collective job interview during his visit so we could
prepare for what we might get. Preferably by arranging an orderly
constitutional transition to preclude his accession. We let him off the hook.
But let us still not just blindly blunder into another reign of another
monarch. We have time, but it is running out.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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