Much of Australia has gone royal family mad with the marriage of Wills and Kate – a madness not evident since the wedding of Diana and Charles, writes 20-year-old journalism student and Commonwealth Correspondent Steph Carter from Queensland.
In a country where many reject the lingering ties of the British monarchy and profess republican sentiments, the engagement and marriage of ‘Wills and Kate’ has perhaps unearthed feelings that have lain dormant in Australians since the era of Princess Diana.
The sustained connection to the Queen of England, who also poses as the Queen of Australia, is a hotly contested one. A stroll down any Australian street will reveal the country’s strong multicultural identity – there is no doubt that the younger generation enjoys an Australia that is vastly different to the one their British forefathers colonized.
For numerous Australians, the continued tie to the Crown may seem to be an odd relic, a no longer important feature of political organisation. While the public holiday for the Queen’s birthday is a valued bonus, there doesn’t seem to be much else in the way of necessity that the Brits can offer the Aussies.
But how do you explain Australia’s response to the announcement of the royal engagement and last month’s marriage? In centuries gone past, the state of Queensland was able to send 500 tins of pineapples to London as a royal wedding present and no one batted an eyelid. Would this be the case now?
From deep within Australia’s store of general public ‘monarchic’ apathy, a royal wedding fever began to emerge following the announcement of Wills and Kate’s’ impending nuptials. While Canberra responded with a heart-felt congratulations for the happy royal couple, Australian citizens, both young and old alike, blocked out the big day in their diaries.
Some booked direct flights to London, to ensure that they had the best seat in the house on the day. Others began sending out invitations for ‘Princess Parties’ and there was a rush to buy engagement crockery goods with portraits of Wills and Kate emblazoned on the front. Social media sites such as Facebook became alive with a distinct virtual royal wedding fever.
Said Miss Brett Louise Woods from Melbourne: “The royal wedding signifies our cultural ties, our tradition as a Commonwealth nation. Everyone loves a good fairytale, and I’m sure that even those who don’t like the royal family will be sneaking a peek at their televisions on Friday 29th.”
Anyone would think that Australia had gone absolutely royal family mad; a madness that had not been evident since the wedding of Diana and Charles. How to explain this level of attention and interest? While the non-believers and the staunch republications kept their televisions turned off on Friday 29th April, most of Australia was watching with bated breath. It seems that for many, it’s hard to shake feelings of tradition and history.
Australia’s connection to the Crown is a significant part of our political and cultural history, not the only part, but certainly a substantial one. Perhaps in a century’s time, Australia will consider taking the Republican path and loosening ties to the British monarchy and its imperial past.
But for now, it is our Commonwealth prerogative to take in the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton, and enjoy the fairytale.