Is it really so terrible to keep a link with Britain?

To borrow a phrase Antipodeans love to use to put down the British. On our small rain-swept island in the north Atlantic ( Ireland this time), where we obsess over political symbolism, I was intrigued to learn what the Australians and New Zealanders made of Prince William’s debut visit. British observer the Guardian (centre -left leaning, remember), judges that a brilliantly staged managed royal charm offensive pulled off a minor triumph. The Aussies and Kiwis are generous about giving the royals a platform, even though the drift towards republics continues (see selection) The problem for the republicans is the unspoken assumption of waiting until the Queen dies. Then it’s somehow unsporting to whip the Crown away from old Charles at the very moment he’s lost his mum. Then what about William… and so on. Lack of an Irish sense of grievance could yet save the monarchy. The Canadians join the debate too. Contrast the relaxed approach Down Under today which could yet see the monarchy defy rationalism and survive indefinitely, with Dev and co’s meticulous campaign of attrition against the monarchy in harsher times . Mary Kenny is the latest chronicler of a more complex relationship than you might think. And note the Oz schizophrenia in this threnody to the relationship with the UK.

But should a proud, independent nation such as Australia invest political capital in a “foreign” family? Britain is not just any foreign nation. Australia is enriched by people and ideas from everywhere but our history, language, law, media, government, sport and culture carry the echo of our origins. You can’t love Australia without loving the rock from which we were hewn.
On practically every measure, Australia is a better nation than Britain in 2010. Our community is more cohesive, our economy stronger, our people happier, our athletes faster, our environment cleaner, our future brighter – but we stand on giant shoulders. Those claiming to be ashamed of our British legacy are saying more about themselves than our past.

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London

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