I must say David Flint – or as the BBC called him, “David from
Queensland”- and David Horkan, stand out from their monarchist cohorts
when its comes to criticising me – they don’t do it under the cloak of
anonymity. The hate mail and obscene telephone calls which come my way
from supporters of the monarchy should be read and heard to be
believed. The language, my dears, is quite over the top. The two
David’s criticism is quite quaint and they just can’t come to terms
with the fact that in over thirty years of royal reporting, I have come
to know many members of the royal family, have been to receptions on
board Britannia here and overseas, reported many garden parties at
Buckingham Palace and – now hold on to your hats both Davids – even had
a few conversations with the Queen.

I won’t
bore the boys with details of hilarious times spent with the late Princess
Margaret – that’s all in The Australian

at the time of her death. And gosh, how they would have loved to have
been with Avril – my wife of many years – and me when we had lunch with Princess
Alexandra and her late husband, Angus. I wont spoil their fun either by
recounting the month I had on assignment interviewing members of former ruling
royal families for a three part series I was
commissioned to do for The

while working in that paper’s London bureau. I made at the
time friendships with a few of them – close relations to the British royals –
and have kept those friendships and over the years have encountered some of the
Brits and their foreign relatives
at weddings and Christenings to which I was

In 1985,
I wrote, and Bantum published, my unofficial biography of Princess Michael of
Kent. Needless to say the princess herself would have none of it, but certain of
her in-laws were more than helpful. The royals can leak like sieves when it
suits them – and their displeasure with Marie Christine of Kent was, and is,
very real.

None of
what I have relayed here is unique. When reporters follow the royals,
associations spring up along the way and some of my colleagues are still reporting
and enjoy close friendships with
them. Some of them are republicans and some are monarchists but all of them
agree that if a country has a royal family, it should consist only the monarch’s
children. The Brits should take a leaf out of their Danish cousin’s system. And I
can assure David Flint that it is true that the Duke of Edinburgh did say to one
of his cousins, who told me, that we Australians were ‘bloody mad’ to vote
against a republic.

feeling is that next time we’ll have more

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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