Michael Jeffery’s decision to stay in Canberra following the tragic deaths of nine servicemen and women at the weekend is the correct one. In his role as the representative of the Australian head of state his place is here not at the wedding of Prince Charles. It is dubious that he should have been going in the first place. The Governor General can represent all Australians in the period of mourning leading up the funerals of those killed – John Howard, who no doubt will try to milk the unbelievably sad situation for all it’s worth – represents only a tad more than half the voting public.

In the next week or so, Australia will need to be represented at various royal and religious occasions. In the absence of any credible head of state – and let’s not forget that Michael Jeffery recently admitted that he but represents the head of state, who is Queen Elizabeth II – we have diplomats who can step in.

Elizabeth’s anomalous position underscores the pressing need for an Australian in that role – having a foreign unelected non-resident incumbent is an insulting as it is ridiculous. We have an ambassador to the Holy See – incidentally the world’s oldest monarchy – he can surely represent us in the absence of the head of state, who even if she is in Rome at the time, will represent the people of Britain, as will whoever she decides to send in her place if she is not there.

Similarly, our ambassador in Paris can represent us at the funeral of Prince Rainier of Monaco when he departs this world – although why we would need anyone there at all is a moot point. Australia’s connections to the fairytale principality are virtually non existent with the exception of a few wealthy expatriates who are there for tax reasons.

Why do we need anyone at Windsor next Friday? The son of the Queen of Australia – who will be our next king and his wife to be – who will be our next queen – will get by quite well. And before the monarchists get all twisted let them take note that the British government has decreed that following Friday’s nuptials, Camilla will be in fact the Princess of Wales as Crikey pointed out last week. In this modern day and age, she will take her husband’s various names and titles including when the time comes, Queen of Australia.

Sadly, it takes situations of unbelievable grief for this whole constitutional mess to be seen in a sensible light and the quicker the Australian public addresses it, the better.

Peter Fray

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