No surprise here. Prince William's visit to New Zealand and Australia was a smashing success. And, it has delivered a devastating blow to the republican movements in those countries.
Before the second in line to the throne touched down, the party-poopers..errr...republicans were nervously readying themselves for what surely even they knew would be an enormous wave of monarchist sentiment. The small republican group in New Zealand staged a protest that was easily outnumbered by well-wishers; and, instead of explaining to New Zealanders just exactly how they would be better off in some republic the group channelled their energy into unfurling a banner reading "It's time for a republic."
Republicans called it "extraordinarily ironic" to have Prince William open the Supreme Court (one of the main reasons for the visit) because it was established to replace Britain's Privy Council as New Zealand's highest court of appeal. I found this line of thinking a bit peculiar given that the Supreme Court of Canada has been our highest court since 1949. Really, there was absolutely nothing ironic at all in having Prince William open the NZ Supreme Court; rather, it was a sign of a mature country's new court being opened by a member of its shared Royal Family.
In Australia, where the national media have a strange, unhealthy obsession with all things republican, people came out in droves to support the Prince - leading to headlines reading "Prince Charming" and "Sydney's Favourite Son."
The Australian republican movement - still cranky 10 years after they were thumped in a referendum - used the occasion to unveil something big: the new reason why Australians should abolish the monarchy. Apparently, Australians need a republic because - are you ready for this? - Prince William wants England to host the World Cup of Soccer in 2018. Now, I must say that I've heard all kinds of arguments against the monarchy, but few have been as silly and desperate as this one.
In the end, the Crown is better off as a result of Prince William's visit. According to a poll released today, support for the monarchy has surged in Australia. Good news, for sure. But, what does all of this mean to us here in the Great White North?
Here in Canada, there is no republican movement. The media are much more balanced. And, none of the major political parties want to abolish the monarchy. So, at least for now the monarchy/republic debate is a non-issue - nothing more than meaningless chitchat, really.
However, the long-term strength of the Canadian Crown is obviously tied to Prince William. Ultimately, it is imperative that Prince William visit Canada in the not to distant future - as early as 2011, perhaps? - to enable him to learn more about this country and to enable its people to get to know their future King.
Until next time,
Rober / The D.C.