monarch of the gen

In another long list of ill-informed ‘facts’ about Millennials, today’s edition of The Weekend Australian leads the front page with an article declaring that Gen Y would rather bow to the queen than a republic, or something like that (I would link to the article but it’s beyond their paywall because, you know, their rock-hard research is so valuable).

Putting aside the reality that the rest of the world has been calling Gen Y Millennials for about, oh, ten years now, the article only further cements the increasing irrelevance of Australian broadsheet fact-spinning with each new revelation.

Their research pool, which miraculously excluded myself, my educated peers and the many people I know who have clear opinions about such things, was obviously taken from those ‘Gen Y’ readers who have little better to do than answer web quizzes about whether or not they like the queen.

Unfortunately, these ‘Gen Y-ers’ embody the small percentage of my generation who have transformed into an even more domestic version of their baby-boomer parents, skipping over the forming-your-own-identity thing and settling straight down to a steady diet of conservatism in the forms of New Idea, A Current Affair, and ubiquitous national broadsheets.

Some of these actually left work early to watch the whole Royal Wedding when it was broadcast live, and oohed and aahed over Pippa’s scandalous slinky dress, and were desperately concerned about Kate’s post-baby health and starry-eyed by the fact that the ‘royal couple’ visited the very same continent as them.

Of course they don’t want a republic! That would mean giving up their right to associate themselves with the glamorous aura of royalty — a kind of complacent, hero-worship narcissism which reeks somewhat of those who claim that the Kardashians, beneath all the scandal, are really such a down-to-earth family.

I’ll admit, I have more than a passing admiration for Queen Elizabeth II, who has reigned with grace and dignity and a longevity that puts all other Brit monarchs to shame. She is one woman to whom I willingly submit the imprint on my coins.

Yet, as the article quite redeemably points out, if we were talking about shafting King Charles III instead it would be a different story altogether. This of course says a lot about good ol’ Charles, but even more, I’m afraid, about our own laughably deficient sense of self-esteem.

If our commitment to monarchy is based solely on a popularity contest (and, despite what Woman’s Day tells you, the queen won’t actually live forever) and vicarious wedding/baby fever, instead of, say, the right to call ourselves a self-governing nation and maybe discover some kind of national identity along the way, then I’m afraid, people, that we’ve got our priorities wrong.

And when we get beyond all the gossip-mongering fluff, we can finally get a grip on the real point of all this republic talk. Because it’s not so much about who sits at the top of our hierarchical flowchart as it is about how we see ourselves. And until we see ourselves as a nation more interested in our own cultural value than in that of a celebrity baby, I’m afraid our future looks as featureless as our past.

Surely we’re better than that.

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