All is not
well among Queen Elizabeth’s most loyal Australian subjects. A row has broken out between
the Australian Monarchist League, established by Philip Benwell in 1993, and the
newly founded Monarchist League in Australia Ltd,
a public company launched in February this year by devoted monarchist Peter Cavanagh, with David Flint as patron.

The controversy centres around the name the newcomers have
chosen which, according to a letter on the AML’s
, is already taken. “In September (1993) I established The Monarchist
League in Australia
with the maxim: To Defend the Honour of
The Queen and the Integrity of The Crown,” says Benwell, the League’s national chairman, in an “important warning
to members” posted last week.

“Although we adopted the name Australian Monarchist League in 1997 for
campaign purposes, we are nevertheless still known in the community and on the
internet by the original name. It is therefore a matter of great concern to us all that on
the 1st February 2006 an unlisted Public Company was incorporated with our name The Monarchist League
in Australia
Ltd… We greatly value our name and have written to
the directors of this rival League objecting to their use of it and requesting
that they desist.”

So what are Cavanagh and Flint – both members of Australians for Constitutional Monarchy
– up to? According to Cavanagh, chairman of the MLA,
nothing sinister. The new Monarchist League in Australia wasn’t formed
to rival Benwell’s MLA. Instead it was set up to house the Antipodean
members of the
London-based International Monarchist’s League who were cut off from the League when the two groups severed ties in 1993.

The name that was originally given to
the Australian branch of the international body became ineffective
after the split, Cavanagh says, so he set up a company under
the old name to make sure it was properly run and above board. And why
is Cavanagh – a former treasurer of the MLA, until he was
dumped – so concerned about this given London HQ is not a public

Perhaps it has something to do with the history of his former colleague, Philip Benwell. As the SMH‘s Alex Mitchell wrote in August last year, Benwell “has a
secret past: he once fled Sydney to avoid facing a string of fraud
charges and fought a 10-year legal battle to stop being extradited
from Sri Lanka.”

But then the IML is not without its own colourful characters. The group’s Vice Chancellor Lord Sudeley, who once described one of his hobbies as “Ancestor Worship”, recently opened his AGM report to the right wing Monday Club he chairs with the line: “True though the fact may be that some races
are superior to others…”, and closed with the comment that “Hitler did so well to get everyone back to
work.” Hmmm.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey