It was hardly earth shattering news, especially during a pandemic and with border closures right around the country. Nevertheless we learnt last week that the renegade Principality of Hutt River in WA was renouncing its independence and after 50 years of political isolation rejoining the Commonwealth.
Following a long time tussle with the ATO the Province has finally agreed to settle a massive tax bill and sell off most of their 75 square kilometres as farmland. During its heyday under the rulership of the self anointed Prince Leonard, Hutt River survived as an offbeat tourist attraction, selling its own stamps and currency, stamping travellers passports and handing out knighthoods like parking tickets in the Sydney CBD.
Its extended ‘royal’ family were either a mockery of established royalty around the world or a clever gimmick designed to lure tourists to their remote HQ – perhaps a combination of both. A self declared republic with a President Leonard would never have had the same cache especially within a country that still held a strong allegiance to the British royal family. It did continue a tradition of course of common folk adopting a royal persona, one that has had numerous manifestations throughout history.
When jazz became popular in the US, many of its leading artists adopted or were christened with regal names like King Oliver, Count Basie and Duke Ellington, not to forget Miles Davis who at one stage in his life was known as the Prince Of Darkness. The titles were always slightly tongue in cheek but a lot more deserving than the hereditary royals of Europe and elsewhere, whose lineage is invariably tainted with murder, plunder and appalling cruelty.
Unlike some countries like Thailand, there is of course no legal impediment to anybody in Australia giving themselves or receiving some kind of regal title. The late Graeme Kennedy was often referred to as “The King Of Television” and King Wally Lewis is one of the great NRL immortals. And who could forget the beautiful Princess Panda from the 1950s Happy Show on HSV-7. These crownings are often widely endorsed by the general public unlike the gongs that were handed out in bygone years to any crook or captain of industry prepared to pass a paper bag full of cash under the desk.
We no longer have knighthoods although Tony Abbott did exercise his infamous captain’s call in rewarding one of England’s most dangerous nonagerian drivers with the title. You have to think that many on the staunchly monarchist side of the conservative forces in Australia are smarting that they will never be known as sir or dame.
The concept of royalty, especially the increasingly dysfunctional and scandal plagued British royals is an anathema to many Australians. One way of devaluing the celebrity style media currency that they still hold here would be to encourage anybody to don some kind of majestic plumage.
I would love to see a registered charity, with full government approval, given the right to flog off royal titles. For $20 you could become a count or a viscount, $50 a lord and $100 a prince or princess. King or Queen would set you back $150 (EasyPay available) and a package deal at $200 could be done for all the family – making everybody of instant royal heritage.
Surely there are millions of Australians, more deserving of the designation ‘prince’ than the buffoonish adulterer and future king, Prince Charles or the vile, sweat free, Epstein confidant Prince Andrew. Then again there are many who hold the belief that there was really only ever one true ‘Prince’ – his remains sadly held in a customised urn in the foyer of Paisley Park!