Monday 21 January 2008

Royal snub upsets New Zealanders

Sir Edmund Hillary passed away just over a week ago, and his body now lies in State at Auckland's Parnell Holy Trinity Cathedral, ahead of tomorrow's State funeral.

However there is great disquiet across the country that the Royal family decided not to send a member of the Royal family, nor the Queen, to be present at the service.

The nation's Sunday Star Times has labelled the decision as a "slap in the face for all New Zealanders." Here is their editorial...

  • Republicans will rejoice that the royals have declined to come to Sir Edmund Hillary’s funeral. Buckingham Palace has, at a stroke, infuriated all of New Zealand and turned mild monarchists into red-hot anti-royalists. As PR botches go, it’s epoch-making and hilarious. But as an insult to this country and its deepest values, it is unforgivable.

    Hillary represents the best of us everyone has been saying so since he died and was loved like no other New Zealander. The palace denies that the royal refusal will be seen as a snub to Sir Ed, and demonstrates the gulf between the toffs at court and the people of these islands. It is not only an insult to Hillary, it is a slap in the face for all New Zealanders.

    It is also a breathtaking piece of hypocrisy. Britain and its rulers welcomed Hillary’s conquest of Everest as the “crowning glory” of Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953. The bewildered beekeeper found himself transmogrified into a knight. Britain regarded him as an honorary Brit and celebrated his climb as though a Brit had done it.

    The new queen was happy to accept Hillary’s colonial tribute to her glory, and later gave him the ultimate royal honour by making him a Knight of the Garter. This is the greatest of the gongs, a personal gift of the sovereign. When Hillary went to London in 2002 she greeted him like an old friend.

    This is why it is hogwash for the palace to say that the governor-general, as the queen’s personal representative, will be an adequate ambassador at the funeral. Nobody believes that when the governor-general turns up to cut a ribbon or attend a big-wigs’ tea party that he is a sort of virtual royal presence. The people who listen to him giving yet another vacuous speech of good cheer do not suppose for a minute that they are somehow in the presence of the Queen of England. Sending the governor-general to the funeral of the greatest living New Zealander is therefore not a special enough royal gesture. It certainly is not a decent response to the death of a man feted as a hero not only in New Zealand but in Britain, and whose funeral will be televised in many countries around the world. “Oh, Satyanand can do it,” is not only a lazy response, it is a shameful one.

    Edmund and Elizabeth’s twosome was for many monarchists a kind of symbol of the close bonds between their countries. The fact that she can’t be bothered even to send a minor princeling or pint-sized princess to farewell him should tell even them that these bonds are broken. Most New Zealanders know that already. They no longer crowd to see visiting royals. They know that New Zealand is in practical terms a republic. But this astonishing insult should now spur us into making the break with the palace official. What better proof could there be that we no longer have anything in common with this bizarre institution?

    Helen Clark won’t do anything, of course, because although she thinks the monarchy is absurd she is also desperately interested in hanging on to power. Till now, she has supposed that stirring up a debate over the monarchy would just cause her unnecessary trouble. But maybe this time around she is wrong. Maybe the Queen’s insult will really spark the start of a republican revolution. Maybe this time Clark will stand up for what she believes.

    The Queen offers a memorial service in England for Hillary, as though this makes up for the royal absence at his real funeral. This just makes things worse. One can’t be bothered to go all the way down there, but one will light a candle in one’s chapel.

    No, ma’am, it won’t do.

Now I’m a Republican, and the sooner NZ and Australia stand on our own two feet, the better.

However, given the past association between New Zealand and the UK, and the significant milestones etched in Hillary's achievements, this is a very stunned decision to make not to attend Hillary's service.

Hillary's recognition by the Throne with a Knight of the Garter, the highest possible British honour, outranking all Knighthoods, makes this decision all the more unpalatable.

The Garter was established 1348, limited to 24 people worldwide, and unlike most honours is given at the personal discretion of the sovereign.

The British government will have the Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconeras it's representative at tomorrow's State funeral.

The Queen has invited Hillary's window and family to the UK for a small private service.

One letter writer had this to say:

  • Sir Edmund was a Knight of the Garter - the highest Order of Chivalry in the United Kingdom. With just 24 members including the Queen herself and the Prince of Wales, it is a tight community and exists to honour the Commonwealth's finest contributors.

    It is therefore an affront to the man and his mana, to New Zealand and to the Commonwealth, that not one of the "firm" could be bothered to make the flight.

    It could be understood that HM herself may have found the flight wearisome but Andrew, Charles, Camilla, Edward or Anne (even Zara would have been accepted) could have made the effort. A D- from me for commitment. As a staunch supporter of a constitutional monarchy paid for by someone else I say. "Advance the Republic!"
    ~Peter Paterson

So I wondered what members of the Royal Family were doing that was so important they couldn't attend Sir Ed's funeral tomorrow. According to the Royal Family's Royal Diary, this is what they're up to tomorrow. Looks like ma'am is not at all busy...

  • The Prince of Wales President, Business In The Community, will meet farmers and business leaders on a Business In The Community 'Rural Action Programme Seeing Is Believing' visit to Hill Top Farm, Spaunton, Yorkshire.

    The Prince of Wales Patron, Mutton Renaissance Campaign, will meet farmers, chefs and business leaders to celebrate the success of the Mutton Renaissance Campaign at Grange Farm, Levisham, Pickering, North Yorkshire.

    The Prince of Wales The Royal Hall will officially reopen The Royal Hall, Ripon Road, Harrogate.

    The Earl of Wessex will open 'High Slopes' Community Hall, West Paulsgrove Scout and Community Association, Carlton Road, Paulsgrove, Hampshire

    The Earl of Wessex will visit De La Rue Currency, Overton, Basingstoke, Hampshire.

    The Earl of Wessex will open the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research Building at the University of Southampton, Highfield, Southampton, Hampshire.

    The Princess Royal Patron, the London Youth Trust, will attend a Dinner to Launch the Centenary Year Activities at the White Tower, Her Majesty's Tower of London, London EC3.

    The Duke of Kent will visit York Hall, Old Ford Road, Bethnall Green, London E2.


Anonymous said...

I'm no monarchist, but this is a right royal media beatup.

Hillary, an enlightened and environmentally aware man, would probably not have wished a regal figurehead plus staff plus security guards plus hangers on to all stamp an enormous greenhouse footprint halfway round the world just to be photographed looking suitably glum at his funeral.

I hope Rupert Murdoch will not take offense, but should I outlive the old fox, I will decline an invitation to his funeral even in the infinitesimally small chance I ever receive one. I may, however, leave uncharacteristically tasteful comments on his (News Corp) My Space page.

In this era of climate change crisis, an e-message should suffice on such occasions - except for close family and friends who understandably wish to grieve together when someone passes away.

Anonymous said...

people like hillary are narcisitic, vain and ego maniacs. Real heroes are people who help other people. Hillary was only obsessed with himself. Imagine if he had put his mountain climbing efforts into helping others instead? Royals would have sent someone if it were someone who had helped the people NZ rather than someone who was just fulfilling their own personal motiavations. Like the anti-whalers in the southern ocean, how many homeless people did they pass by and not help on their way to the boat?
Also the Hillary thing is really only somehting NZ cares about.
Ps, Where is NZ anyhow, is it a country or something?

Anonymous said...

"Gary Numan" you aren't Factman are you?

Anonymous said...

Michael, you missed the piece where the Queen has invited the Hillary Family to a Service at St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle.
Perhaps Her Majesty deemed it appropriate that the people of NZ farewell Sir Ed in their own way.

Michael P Moore said...

No I didn't Jude. Read my story.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Michael, missed the one liner

Anonymous said...

The Queen loves New Zealand and has great respect for all the New Zealand people. It is a little bit of a shame that the UK is now linked into the EU. I think she and many people within the UK would wish New Zealand & Australia were more closely linked to the UK. So hope for the future with our countries working together more. Please remember she is your Queen too and does care greatly. I am sure she prays for the people of NZ and Aus.