Owing to study and work commitments the Young Fogey Down Under has had little time to sit down and punch out a few lines to those who are kind enough to read my articles. But invigorated by a number of new followers, plus the reactions of the media to todays announcement of HRH the Duke of Edinburgh being appointed a Knight within the Order of Australia within the 2015 Australia Day Honours List I have decided the time was right.
His Royal Highness was initially appointed to the Military Division of the Order of Australia back in 1988 by the Labor Hawke Government. Over the years, he has also had his service recognised not only by all those major Realms such as Canada and New Zealand who have since introduced their own honours systems, since departing from the so called "Imperial System". But also from dozens of other nations both Monarchy and Republic alike. This includes around twenty one Orders that bestow the grade of Knighthood or its equivalent.
Much of the commentary today, unfortunately has been far from informed. Including such misleading statements, that HRH had received the nations highest honour. When in fact the AK sits at the position of sixth within the Order of Precedence (The Victoria Cross of course being the highest), and ignoring the fact that the Order of Australia has a long history of being bestowed upon those who do not reside within our nations shores. Some recipients such as Nelson Mandela or General David Petraeus have had far more tentative links to Australia, than His Royal Highness. Who, not only serves as patron to numerous Australian charities, but also heads the Duke of Edinburgh Awards scheme, serves as Colonel in Chief to the Royal Australian Mechanical and Electrical Engineers and Australian Army Cadets as well as holding five star rank across all three services of the Australian Defence Force. But, and what is perhaps even more poignant served as consort to our Queen for what what is almost sixty three years.
Despite this service, today the Australian political class, encouraged by an enabling media, lined up to take a baseball bat, or perhaps more appropriately a cricket bat to the announcement to of His Royal Highnesses Award. In doing so, not only have they revealed themselves as totally ungracious human beings, but shown a flaw in the Australian character. When former Prime Minister John Howard was appointed to the Order of Merit or the Presidential Medal of Freedom did we hear the citizens of the United Kingdom or America respectively going into uproar. Likewise when Labor Politicians have received Knighthoods from Thailand or Italy did those countries politicians and media display such undignified behaviour? No they did not, and so here we come to realise that todays reaction has been one, that has done not only us as a nation little credit. But in doing so, we have ignored all those who today should have been celebrated for their service, they instead have been overshadowed by a media and political storm.
Yet The Young Fogey Down Under, does not shy away from this fact, that it's possible things could have been handled differently. With such a small annual quota, the Prime Minister in the opinion of this humble blogger, could have considered appointing one other Australian resident as either a Knight or Dame within the Order. And making His Royal Highness as an Extra Royal Knight. Preferably waiting until the Queens Birthday Honours List (though due to concerns with age and health of the Duke I acknowledge this may have been a factor).
In ending this blog I wish you all a Happy Australia Day for 2015, and congratulate both our Knights of the Order of Australia and all those who today were amongst the names on this Australia Day Honours List. And of course to a friend who discovered his unit has been granted the Meritorious Unit Citation for service in the Middle East.