I gave a speech at the Citizen’s Parliament in 2009. In that speech I spoke about Australia’s unavoidable course towards a Republic. My reflections on recent events and since 2009 have changed my thinking about whether the Republic is imminent or part of Australia’s distant future.
We have seen the elevation of Prince William in recent years and along with the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, it would seem that the Royal Family are back in our lives. I used to think this represented Australia’s stubborn fixation with the British imperial and colonial ideal. I used to think it was a signal that Australians were not prepared to sever their ties to their ‘motherland’. I used to think that the Royals were a reminder of what was taken away from us (Indigenous Australians). Now I think differently.
I see the Royal Family as a living cultural institution that links white Australia to its ancestral memory. The Royal Family, and their story of conquest and aristocracy, is a living cultural link to white (British and maybe other United Kingdom peoples) Australia’s ancient story. They represent the elevation of the British Empire that has caused the English language domination of the globe.
We, as Australians are part of the British Empire impact on the history of the world. We are part of the Commonwealth. We are under Her Crown.
When I think of the Royal Family as cultural memory for white Australia I am liberated. I understand the motivation to keep the Royal Family in our lives. I understand this because I know why keeping ancestors and their stories alive is important to culture and identity. I understand that if you have a living line of connection to an ancient story, then they are worth protecting and promoting.
So I find myself in a peculiar position. I am quite uncomfortable and a little vulnerable, but I think it is worth the risk for the spirit of finding common language, values and a common narrative. I am now an Indigenous Australian who is prepared to declare, “Long Live the Queen!” “Long Live the Royal Family!” I can hardly believe what I am writing. But I must declare my support to maintain the cultural link to the Royal Family. I must take a steps into new shared cultural territory. I need to so I can join in the journey of Australia’s future together.
I need to take the steps because that is what I am asking other Australians to do to embrace the Indigenous story into their narrative of Australia.
Maybe Prince William can lend me a hand…