I wonder if even the Queen feels sorry for them. A country which sends most of its citizens away for years at a time touring the world from Bali to Bombay cannot unanimously decide to make a clean break with the past in time for the new millennium? My classification systems have some difficulty in working out which kind of Australian would want to have the British monarchy.
Appearances can be misleading, but the Aussies I've met in London certainly don't strike me as your typical royalists. I keep thinking of Lonely Planet readers in jeans and flip-flops who develop faraway looks in their eyes when you ask them how long they're spending on holiday. "Seven years," they breathe. They usually turn out to be holed up in Earls Court, saving money for next season's Asian campaign; technically they are on their way to Goa though they may not get there until spring 2004. Pardon me? These people love the Queen?
Perhaps they don't. Perhaps the point is that the royalists are the ones who stay in Australia and vote in referendums on constitutional affairs. And it does come as a bit of a shock, for one who has only ever met Australians in Earls Court pubs and Bombay dormitories, to realise that there must indeed be another kind of Australian - one who, say, wears a blazer. And shoes. And votes for the Queen.
But no, I still don't get it. We are always hearing about the funky, designer hotels and bars in Sydney and Melbourne where progressive Australian advertising executives entertain guests from Singapore and Los Angeles on seared swordfish steaks and chardonnay. These are those super-fit people who think nothing of swimming a hundred lengths of their Olympic pools before breakfast. This kind of Australian surely is about as likely to vote for Jiang Zemin as head of state as for the Queen.
So, who does that leave us with? The G'day-No-Worries-Mate kind of Australian from the outback, who fights crocodiles with his bare hands and doesn't believe in being polite to people just because they're posh? The Korean restaurateur with a swimming pool in the garden? The disaffected Brit making a new life in the sunshine? I have to say that these don't sound like a terribly promising constituency for the Queen either.
It is almost as though Australia actually contains a silent crowd of mysterious people who never go backpacking, do not drink chardonnay, do not say G'Day Mate - but do like the Queen. Does this mean that Poms are no longer entitled to make crass generalisations about Aussies? Perhaps this, after all, was the clean break that Australians had in mind for the new millennium.Reuse content