Prince William's forthcoming wedding good for the monarchy
The British monarch is also the Australian monarch but there are some Australians who want a republic instead
By Miranda Devine, writing from Australia
The timing of Prince William's engagement is a serious setback for the republican movement. There's no doubt he'd be a better king than his father.
THE Queen announced the news of her grandson's engagement yesterday with the following tweet - yes, tweet - on social networking site Twitter: "The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh are absolutely delighted at the news of Prince William and Catherine Middleton's engagement."
It was a sign, not just that the monarchy has finally arrived in the 21st century, but that it belongs to William's generation. Twitter and Facebook, after all, are as alien to fusty 62-year-old Prince Charles as fidelity was in his first marriage.
After all his public agonies, Charles should now take the many heavy hints that have piled up over the years and sail off into the sunset with his mistress-turned-wife Camilla, leaving his far more formidable 28-year-old son to be king, and the far more appropriate Kate Middleton as queen.
Not least among the hints to Charles, first in line to the throne, is the longevity in office of his mother, the Queen, who forges valiantly on with her daily royal chores at the age of 84. Surely, if she thought her eldest son were worthy of succeeding her, she would have retired long ago to relax with her corgis.
With news of the royal engagement, the monarchy can now smoothly bypass Charles and Camilla and instead install the young, wholesome, photogenic, down-to-earth and thoroughly likeable couple as King Wills and Queen Kate.
This, of course, was the original revenge plan of William's beloved mother, Princess Diana, which she unveiled in her famous tell-all 1995 television interview with Martin Bashir on BBC's Panorama, two years before she died in a car crash in Paris.
Diana's sapphire-and-diamond engagement ring on Kate's Middleton's hand now seals the deal. "It's my mother's engagement ring," William said in a remarkably gracious television interview with his fiancee beside him, the highly recognisable ring firmly on her finger. "So I thought it was quite nice because obviously she's not going to be around to share any of the fun and excitement about all this. It's my way of keeping her sort of close to it all."
The couple appeared to be so lovely and genuinely in love, it's no wonder their news has delighted their economically troubled nation, with the Prime Minister, David Cameron, and his Cabinet reportedly pounding fists on their desks with happiness.
In Australia, meanwhile, can't you just hear the sound of republicans gnashing their teeth? "The fact that in 2010, a wedding announcement to the other side of the world between two young English people stands to impact on our own constitutional arrangements is simply absurd," the Australian Republican Movement's chairman, Mike Keating, said in a statement yesterday.
The truth is that Prince Charles was the republicans' best tool. It is hard enough in Australia to justify the existence of a foreign monarch in modern times, let alone one as kooky and flawed as Charles. It's not Charles's age that is the impossible impediment to his taking the throne. It is his track record.
Of course, many people will never forgive Camilla, whom Diana nicknamed "the rottweiler", for ruining her marriage to Charles. Even though she married her long-time lover five years ago, the opposition in the United Kingdom to Camilla becoming queen has grown, and runs as high as 90 per cent in some opinion polls.
William's engagement announcement also couldn't have come at a better time to eclipse the bad publicity that is sure to come from his father's forthcoming greenie documentary, Harmony. To be broadcast this week in the US, it is reportedly an attempt by Charles to pitch himself as a British Al Gore. It could also be seen as his last-ditch pitch for what Diana called the top job.
Charles says in the program: "I can only somehow imagine that I find myself being born into this position for a purpose - to save the planet." Billed as a call to action on climate change, the project was his idea, and comes with a book as well as a children's version.
"He felt there were a lot of urgent issues to be discussed," his co-producer, Stuart Sender, told Reuters. "He is very involved in the movie as a narrator, and on camera . . . some of the prince's projects are also featured in the film."
The timing of William's engagement announcement - made three weeks after he proposed to Kate in Kenya -- may simply be unfortunate coincidence, from Charles' point of view.
But his first response to reporters' questions yesterday was abrasive. "They've been practising for long enough," he said. Camilla said the news was "wicked". Yes, she had just come out of the musical of the same name but why would she employ a slang word used by people 40 years her junior, which has such an obvious double meaning?