21 June 2003

The accession of Queen Victoria

Saturday June 24, 1837

QUEEN VICTORIA - The accession of our young queen is a circumstance full of hope and promise. Humanly speaking, it is perhaps desirable that the event should have been postponed a few years, that her character might have become more fixed, and her acquaintance with the world and with those branches of knowledge which are peculiarly appropriate to her situation and her duties, more enlarged. But it has been ordained otherwise, and, we have no doubt, ordained for the best.

From all that we have read and heard, her majesty's conduct hitherto seems to have been marked by great propriety both of feeling and demeanour. Her address to the privy council, on the day of her accession, which will be found in a subsequent column, was every thing that could be wished; and there is not a true Englishman who will not warmly respond to her prayer, that "Providence may give her strength for the performance of the work to which she has been thus early called." The declaration, beautiful in its composition, and constitutional in its spirit as it is, has been savagely criticised and misrepresented by the Times. We trust, however, and believe, that very many even of the tories recoil with unmingled disgust from the hateful spirit which that journal so perseveringly evinces.

That would all be a quaint piece of history if Australia did not have a constitution which describes a mythical Australia largely ruled by Queen Victoria. More to the point the royal prerogative remains intact, although it it is in the hands of the prime minister, and authorises more than faintly monarchical statements like:

PRIME MINISTER: I'm the person who was responsible for them going and if the outcome had been very different people would not have been reluctant in anyway to criticise me and I'd have accepted responsibility for it. I don't think it's unreasonable that I welcome people home. He says I hog the limelight. Well, I'm the Prime Minister, I'm the person who's to blame, I'm the person responsible. If I didn't turn up? Just imagine if I didn't turn up at the parade and I said nothing - people would say, for heaven's above, he's the bloke who sent us, he hasn't even come along to welcome us back.

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