If the Australian head of state has any maternal instincts, they sure didn’t surface on Saturday at the blessing of the wedding of the next king of Australia to his long-time mistress, our future queen. Looking the Hanoverian she is, Elizabeth II by the Grace of God, gave the impression she’d rather be anywhere other than in St George’s Chapel – she couldn’t even bring herself to attend the civil wedding of the hapless couple, giving the lame excuse that as Supreme Governor of the Church of England, which frowns upon the remarriage of divorced people, her presence would not be appropriate. Hello! The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Church’s religious supremo saw fit to bless them after the civil ceremony, so just where was our head of state coming from?

Even after the royal family left the Chapel, Her Majesty prevaricated about where she should stand – so she chose Charles for a split second, and after he studiously ignored her, she returned to the side of her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, Charles’s father. Now this is the man Charles, according to his official biographer Jonathon Dimbelby, held in fear and trepidation. After a hideous childhood and equally hideous marriage, the heir to the throne took the bull by the horns, told his startled parents that his marriage to Camilla was non-negotiable and we saw the result on Saturday. The Brits may be lacking in cricketing prowess and several other attributes but give them a State occasion, and no-one but no-one can match them. Incidentally, Camilla, who has been traduced by the tabloid press in Great Britain and elsewhere looked absolutely stunning, which surely made the women of the House of Windsor cringe, just as Diana did when she eventually got her act together. On the subject of Diana, it will be years before her shadow over the new couple disappears – age will not weary the gorgeous Diana but the years will condemn Camilla.

The relevance of the nuptials to Australia was ziltch – and maybe it’s time to ask why the faux head of state was present and what it cost to get him there, accommodate him and bring him back. Like John and Janette at the Queen Mother’s funeral, the Jefferys were almost invisible and they were certainly not accorded head of state status the monarchists claim they are given when they leave our shores.

Incidentally, John Howard slipped back into weapons of mass destruction and children overboard rhetoric when he sent a message to Charles congratulating him on “the warmth of the welcome you received (on the recent Australian visit)”. The visit, of course in terms of interest, was an unmitigated disaster. Yesterday morning, Melbourne talk-back radio was overwhelmed by callers demanding the return to the republican debate. The callers, like most Australians, saw the wedding as a marvellous theatrical experience but it only underscored the irrelevance of this foreign family in the overall scheme of things Australian.

Peter Fray

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