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Young Australians Just Love the Monarchy

If it wasn't clear before that Australians have English overlords, it is now.
Photo by Carly Learson

If it weren't enough that Australia has knights and dames again, we've now had a royal visit. Prince William, Princess Kate and baby Prince George have been touring Australia for the past few days, to the delight of, well, hundreds of Australian monarchists and thousands of women's magazine columnists. If we weren't clear before that we have English overlords, now we are.

The British monarchy is unique in that it reigns over not just the United Kingdom but 16 other countries as well.


While there are still a fair few monarchs around the world, all the others only look after their own people. The Queen is head of state to pretty much the furthest flung countries from Buckingham Palace — from Australia and New Zealand, to Canada, to half the Caribbean.

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In the past a visit from the Queen or Charles and Di has been a big deal, with the streets completely blocked with people dressed in hats and gloves waving flowers and flags.

The visit of Kate and Will was slightly more subdued. In fact it was kind of embarrassing. Of the couple of hundred people who were waiting to welcome the royals, about half were foreign tourists and of those, about half had no idea there was something going on and were just there to see the Opera House.

Thousands of spectators filled the Sydney Opera House forecourt to welcome the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to Australia.

The Queen doesn't have a practical impact on the lives of Australians, has never vetoed a government decision, and probably never will (you never know how future King George will turn out).

We don't pay any money to the royal family like taxpayers in the UK do, we just pay for a governor-general who has a nice house and clothing and butlers.

If we had a president they'd probably cost the same amount. In the end, the difference between being a republic and being a monarchy is, and for most of us, nothing but a symbol.


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The Australian Republican Movement says its just common sense that we become a republic — why should we have a foreign head of state? The Queen is pretty busy being head of state to another country — shouldn't we elect our own, who is actually one of us?

In both Sydney and Melbourne around a quarter of all people are from non-English speaking backgrounds.

In some parts of these cities such as Auburn and Dandenong, more than half of residents are from non-English speaking backgrounds. Overall, the proportion of Australians with a family connection to the UK continues to drop. Yet in a recent Fairfax poll more than half of all Australians said they support the monarchy, with only 42 percent favoring a republic — the lowest number in 35 years. The age group with the highest proportion of monarchists — 60 percent — was 18 to 24-year-olds. But they don't necessarily support a monarchical system of government — they're just not aware that there is an alternative.

The last time the monarchy changed things in Australia was in 1975, when the governor-general sacked our elected prime minister — but the youngest people to remember that are in their 40s now.

Thousands of spectators filled the Sydney Opera House forecourt to welcome the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to Australia.

Sisters Lisa and Kia from Quakers Hill weren't sure what a republic was, but they were pretty happy with keeping things the way they are. 'We just came to see the royals because it's free and we were bored,” Lisa said. Others weren't really sure why we need a monarchy or what they do — they just wanted to see the celebrities.

Vince from the Northern Beaches was critical. “They're basically just born into it,” he said. “They don't have any real life experience. They've got it easy.” Yet, he was there because his mum was a fan of Charles and Di, and even has a plate with Diana's face on it. “It's fun,” said Vince. “It keeps generations going, knowing the royals.”

Other young people are more considered in their approach. Gabrielle Hendry and David Taylor are from the Youth Monarchist movement (as well as the Young Liberals), and were handing out Australian flags. “It's about stability,” said David. “The Republicans haven't outlined the sort of republic they want to be.” Gabrielle said the royals were about more than their names. “Kate and William have been brilliant, they're role models for all young people,” she said. “Sure Kate's a princess but even if she wasn't, she's a strong, kind, beautiful woman — you don't need a title to set an example for others.”

Follow Carly Learson on Twitter: @carlylearson