In case you are unaware, Channel 7 has recently declared itself ‘Australia’s Royal Network’. Whether it’s received an official blessing from Buckingham Palace is open to question, but one thing’s for sure – the station is milking the current resurgence of interest in the British Royal Family for every rating point it can score. It recently claimed a ratings bonanza for the live telecast of the wedding of Princess Eugenie with supposedly well over a million Australians tuning in. That does of course mean than approximately twenty three million more discerning viewers chose not to watch!
On Saturday night when the ABC had announced the winner of the Wentworth by-election and was screening live pictures of a jubilant Kerryn Phelps dancing with her supporters, Channel 7’s news bulletins were still forecasting a close result – an hour or two after the result was a fait accompli. It was a small oversight but indicated that when the Royals are in town, there is no other news to report.
The saturation coverage of the recent tour of Harry and Meghan demonstrated that the young aristocrats have never been more marketable in the age of the internet, click bait and the celebrity obsession. If you are an old school royalist or just a teenager with a pop star mentality, every excessive centimetre of newspaper coverage and TV time is a delight. On the other hand if you subscribe to good old egalitarianism and the hope that one day we will become a Republic, the tabloid overkill is nauseating.
For many Australians of a non-Anglo background, the amount of media space, unbridled reverence and sheer sycophancy directed at the Royals must be bewildering, given that they have no ethnic or emotional ties to this family of regal parasites. Whilst allegiance to the British Royal Family is not widely regarded as a prerequisite for becoming a good citizen, learning the words to Advance Australia Fair certainly is – with one qualification.
You only need to learn the first verse and it’s best advised you go nowhere near the third:
“Britannia then shall surely know,
Beyond wide oceans roll,
Her sons in fair Australia’s land
Still keep a British soul”
As far as I know, and I will be corrected, this third verse is still officially part of the national anthem, although it is almost never performed. It lingers however, like some kind of festering sore, almost subliminally implanted, reminding us all of the umbilical cord to Old Blighty that shall never be severed.
I totally agree with Tony Mundine when he labels the current national anthem as racist and refuses to stand for it. It’s not only racist and an insult to indigenous Australians but it’s a crappy, uninspiring song written by a crusty old Scotsman Peter Dodds McCormick way back in 1878. The words are archaic, as is the prevailing sentiment and it pales into insignificance when sung alongside the anthems of countries such as New Zealand with its passionate and moving bi-lingual verses. Hey, blame those citizens who voted for it back in 1984 to replace God Save The Queen, although admittedly the only other choices were Waltzing Matilda and Song Of Australia. The latter contained the lines “On hill and plain the clust’ring vine, Is gushing out with purple wine, and cups are quaffed to thee and thine — Australia!” – clearly an inducement for teenage Australians to take up the grog.
This might sound rather strange but I strongly suggest that we dump both the Royals and Advance Australia Fair and return to singing God Save The Queen – the Sex Pistols version that is!