Social media lit up as soon as it was announced, and even some of Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s own colleagues were bewildered by the decision — but do you think Prince Philip should have been awarded an Australian knighthood?
Prince Philip and former Defence Force chief Angus Houston were named Australia’s newest knights on Australia Day.
The appointment of Prince Philip was a “captain’s call”, as the PM consulted only Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove and Order of Australia chairman Sir Angus (one of the new knights in question) before announcing the decision.
The ABC reports that senior ministers would have opposed the knighthood, if they’d been consulted. One described it as a “stupid” decision that would make the Government an object of ridicule; another said the announcement would make it harder for the Coalition to lift their electoral credibility.
“There is an old saying that when you are in a hole you should stop digging,” the minister said. “Well, we’ve just punched through the Earth’s crust.”
Adam Giles, the conservative chief minister of the Northern Territory, said he wondered if it was April Fools’ Day, not Australia Day, when he heard the news.
“It’s Australia Day,” he said. “We’re not a bunch of tossers, let’s get it right.”
Former Western Australia premier — and noted republican — Geoff Gallop called the knighthood a “sad reflection” on Australia.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten told Fairfax Radio the move represented “a time warp where we’re giving knighthoods to English royalty”.
“On Australia Day, we’re talking about Australia, Australian identity, the Government’s managed to find a British royal to give a medal to, a knighthood to.”
Even Laurie Oakes sunk the boot in, tweeting: “Libs must wonder who can help a PM apparently determined to be seen as a joke. #jokeknighthood”
The PM has stood up for his decision, however, explaining that he awarded the knighthood to the 93-year-old British royal because “the monarchy has been an important part of Australia’s life since 1788”.
“Prince Philip has been a great servant of Australia, he’s been a great servant of all the countries of the Commonwealth.
“Here in this country, he’s the patron of hundreds of organisations. He’s the inspiration and wellspring of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards which have provided leadership training for tens if not hundreds of thousands of Australians over the years.
“I’m just really pleased that in his 90s, towards the end of a life of service and duty, we in this country are able to properly acknowledge what he’s done for us.”
The head of Australians for Constitutional Monarchy, Professor David Flint, also defended the move, saying the knighthood was an appropriate recognition for Prince Philip’s “long relationship with Australia”.
“He was a sailor in the convoys that protected Australian troops being taken to the Middle East in the Second World War. He was also in the Pacific Fleet and he was actually in Tokyo Bay at the time the Japanese surrendered.
“He opened the ’56 Olympics, he’s got a very long relationship through the Duke of Edinburgh Awards scheme.”
What do you think? Does Prince Philip deserve to be awarded an Australian knighthood? Vote in our poll and have your say in the comments below!
UPDATE: This poll has closed, and it wasn’t close. 71 per cent of you think Prince Philip should be ineligible because he isn’t Australian, 23 per cent of you think he simply doesn’t deserve it, and just six per cent of you think he deserves his knighthood. What a knightmare…