A more generous man would refrain from saying I told you so; but: I told you so. We have a new royalty; a new royal family.
We didn’t have to wait for Australia to become a republic; we only had to wait for our brains to fall out.
I’ve just bought a book of stamps; the Queen’s head on a stamp was one of the familiar assurances that we recognised the Royal Family and its role in our lives. Now, I’m no royalist. When the republic comes I have no doubt it’s impact on me will be infinitesimal; probably the rates will go up and the value of the dollar will go down, but other than that it’ll just be a lot of pontificating in the newspapers and the chance for a party.
And I have no problem with the fact that the Queen’s head has now disappeared from our stamps. It used to dominate the whole space inside the perforations; then it became a little silhouette up in the corner.
But now it’s gone; replaced by the new royal family: Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett and Geoffrey Rush.
Related, of course, by profession. They’re all actors. That is, they’re male actors and female actors (or, as we used to say when words took up less space, actors and actresses).
And if you think I’m overreacting, consider the evidence: entertainers have been overtaking the royals as national figureheads for years. We’ve already had an actor as president of the USA (Ronald Reagan) and one as governor of California (Arnold Schwarzenegger).
And there was a time when “gossip” in the media involved people who wore crowns, and whose name started with King or Queen, Prince or Princess. It was generally accepted that nepotism in the aristocracy was a good thing.
We didn’t just tolerate the King’s son taking over the job â€“ we expected it! Something we’d never do in our workplaces.
But in the past 20 years there’s been a seismic shift in who’s important to us on a national scale. We no longer need a princess to be pregnant to give us something to read â€“ we merely need Jennifer Aniston to put on weight, or lose it.
We no longer need a royal lineage to honour; we have turned our entertainers into a lineage: take Kirk Douglas, father of Michael; or Jon Voight, father of Angelina Jolie.
The list goes on: Donald and Kiefer Sutherland; Martin Sheen, Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez; Goldie Hawn and Kate Hudson; Tony Curtis and Jamie Lee Curtis; Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli; Jeff and Lloyd Bridges â€¦
I grant you, our lot (Nicole, Russell, Cate and Geoffrey) don’t have famous actor children that I’m aware of â€“ but they made it onto our stamps. Next it’ll be the coins of the realm.
Archaeologists in the year 3009 will be digging up coins with profiles of these people and wondering who they were, and what they did to earn the veneration of the population.
“Oh, they acted. I see â€¦” Which will be code for: “Strewth, didn’t they have a weird set of values.” A view that will be confirmed if they stumble across the stamps from the year 2009, which show not only four Australians but also places them alongside the title: Australian legends.
According to my dictionary a legend is a myth â€“ something popularly believed, but not necessarily authenticated, like Russell Crowe’s acting ability.
Saying so, however, will one day be viewed as an act of treason, for which we are likely to get our heads cut off. Not that that’ll be much loss, given our current sense of values.