The
Australian Monarchist League’s president, Philip Benwell, is billed as
our leading monarchist – which must rankle with Professor David Flint
and his offsider Kerry Jones, the couple responsible for Australians
for a Constitutional Monarchy (ACM). How they feel after yesterday’s revelation in the Sun Herald
that Benwell once faced a string of fraud charges and fought a 10-year
legal battle to avoid being extradited from Sri Lanka is not known.

The
local Monarchist League is an offshoot of the British body of the same
name which organises dinners, luncheons and afternoon teas where homage
is paid to the British royal family for its largely octogenarian
membership. Benwell, a stalwart of the Liberal Party, is not above
making outrageously ridiculous statements in defence of the outdated
hereditary system of monarchy. In 2001, he described Steve Bracks as
being “reprehensible” for failing to celebrate the centenary of the
death of Queen Victoria, and in 1999 he told his membership that
“ladies and gentlemen are no more, having been transmogrified into
brawny females and sissified males.”

It can only be imagined how
that went down with some local monarchists who obviously fall into both
categories. But Benwell’s brush with notoriety was not exclusive – a
former chancellor of the British body served a prison sentence for
theft before he was elevated to the peerage as the Marquis of Bristol
and was at the time of his incarceration – ironically as a guest of His
Majesty – plain old Victor Hervey who succeeded his father as the 10th
marquis. The League’s patrons include such luminaries as Lady (Mary)
Fairfax, Pro Hart, Bruce Ruxton and Malcolm Murray, who labours in
Tasmania under the hereditary tile of the Earl of Dunmore.