Happily tugging my forelock: the Queen at 90

Earlier posts on Elizabeth R include Random Friday memory 28: seeing the Coronation from Sutherland (2015), The young princess and her 1933 wave (2015), Fairy Sparkle and the Old Queen (2014), Diamond Queen (2012), Oz Republic? (2008). In 1999 I voted in the referendum for the republic. In 2008 I wrote:

It will happen, no doubt about it, by 2050 if not by 2020. I honestly cannot imagine the current constitutional arrangements carrying on for all that much longer, but by 2050 I will of course be long dead. I guess though that at that time Australian Monarchists will seem rather like the Jacobites in McCall Smith’s 44 Scotland Street series, and like those Jacobites they will probably still be having meetings. (The irony for the Jacobites is that they resent the displacement of the true monarchs of Scotland by the German Princeling George I, and instead look to another German Princeling, that of Bavaria, as the True Monarch. It’s true that the nearest descendant of James II is a Prince of Bavaria, but that line long since relinquished any claim themselves.)

Meanwhile, reading as I am the wonderful and sometimes cantankerous Norman Davies, this time Europe East & West, I should like to point out, as he does, that the last Queen of England was Anne. Since 1707 there have been no English monarchs as such; Elizabeth II (or perhaps to be quite accurate Elizabeth I) is Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, but not, technically, of England. All of which no longer has any direct relevance to Australia, but she ALSO happens to be Queen of Australia, and in that role is her connection with us. (See for the current position The Australia Act 1986.) Then there is of course the somewhat vaguer, but still I believe useful, Commonwealth, of which she is the head duly recognised by quite a few republics….

By 2012 I was saying:

I am not normally disturbed one way or the other by the fact Australia is a constitutional monarchy whose Head of State may or may not be an old lady who lives in England. (It is either her or the Governor-General, depending on who you ask or where you look.) As far as I am concerned the whole odd thing has a certain charm, and it works. Every time I see the ongoing saga of a US Presidential Election I am rather glad we are at least spared that – and spared the spectacle of turning the judiciary into yet another gaggle of elected politicians.

So roll on the Diamond Jubilee, as far as I am concerned. And I like the Queen…

And today with the Queen just turned 90 I may have moved even further, to the point where I am not sure big men in red bandanas really excite me into voting for a republic any time soon.


Yesterday I watched the 2002 telemovie Bertie and Elizabeth. First, it isn’t nearly as good as the 2010 The King’s Speech. But it isn’t all that bad either. There are some splendid performances: Robert Hardy as Roosevelt, for one, and David Ryall as Churchill. On the other hand Wallis Simpson is rendered rather as the Wicked Witch from the West – cartoonish. And there are some notable goofs.

A British Movietone Newsreel, complete with commentary, shows the Duke of York attending the Empire Exhibition at Wembley. This visit took place in October 1925 – not only is this four years before Movietone News began in Britain, but it is two years before sound film was invented. The Exhibition was covered by British Pathe News but the film is of course silent.

But I enjoyed revisiting the story nonetheless. See Review of Bertie And Elizabeth and a very thorough backgrounder on the Canadian blog Enchanted Serenity of Period Films:  King George VI and Queen Elizabeth – a peek into the past.


Still from Bertie and Elzabeth: death of George VI  in 1952

young kids

George VI, Queen Elizabeth and the present Queen in 1926 (left) and with the two princesses (right).


Conversation at City Diggers with a retired wharf labourer —  proud to be a leftie. “What do you think of the monarchy?” he asked. Turns out he is all in favour of it these days! You never know, do you?