Word has reached Crikey’s political desk that some cynics are
suggesting John Howard’s pilgrimage to Lord’s was a driving force
behind his international odyssey last week. As if our PM
would put a cricket match at the top of his agenda when important
global picture opportunities in London, Washington and Baghdad
beckoned. No, John Howard was in the UK to fulfil important matters of
state: meeting Her Majesty the Queen of Australia.

Here’s the proof. Yesterday, to mark the PM’s arrival back in Australia
(and maybe celebrate his 66th birthday) the government issued this
special Gazette:

Dated 20 July (the day before the start of the Lord’s test match), the
Gazette names Queensland governor Quentin Bryce and Tasmanian chief
justice Bill Cox as substitutes to the Governor-General – in case GG
Michael Jeffery does a Harold Holt and goes MIA. You can check out the
full Gazette online here

Howard’s visit to the Queen reminds us of a parlour story Paul Keating
told of his 1993 visit to the UK – the year after he was dubbed “the
Lizard of Oz” by Fleet Street for daring to drape a friendly arm around
the Queen’s shoulder during a state visit.

Paul and Annita were invited to Balmoral Castle, where Prince Philip
hosted a “typical Aussie” BBQ in their honour. The Duke of Edinburgh
duly put on his “I’m the Boss” cooking apron, while Elizabeth enjoyed a
few Pimms and whinged to Annita about the headstrong kids and the
out-of-control in-laws.

We’re sure the Royal Couple put on a similarly friendly show for John
and Janette last week – and that no-one mentioned the “R” word.

Peter Fray

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Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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