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Harry plays dress ups

By Allison Henry - posted Tuesday, 18 January 2005

Prince Harry's recent behaviour in attending a party dressed in a Nazi outfit should worry Australians.

For the past few years we’ve been hearing regular reports of Prince Harry’s high-spirited antics. Most of these incidents have not been so different from those of other kids his age, but this latest episode is both offensive and indefensible. Reports that his brother Prince William was aware of the party costume and failed to recognise its impropriety are equally concerning, as are revelations that they were attending a “colonial or native” themed party. To say that they should have known better is an understatement.

Suggestions that this sort of faux pas can be dismissed as simple thoughtlessness or naiveté, a harmless prank that can in part be attributed to the unfortunate circumstances of their mother’s death, are absurd and fail to acknowledge that he grew up in one of the most privileged, elite households on earth. Surely a history lesson or two for these aspiring international leaders is not out of the question? And one must wonder, in a household full of servants and advisors, how someone could not have spotted and avoided the PR calamity about to occur.


Prince Harry is third in line to the British throne, and therefore third in line to the top position in Australia’s constitutional framework. His brother will almost certainly one day be King.

While Queen Elizabeth II is widely admired and respected by Australians, her heirs are held in somewhat less esteem. Price Harry's irresponsible behaviour demonstrates once more why Australia should move towards becoming a republic with our own Head of State, before these same heirs are imposed on us.

The monarchy, in which these princes hold office entirely by virtue of being born into the right family, is outdated in a modern democracy like Australia. The young Princes’ attendance at a party themed "colonial or native" with a group of rich and privileged kids is totally alien to what we expect from a future Aussie Head of State and emphasises just how out of touch this family are.

Every public position in Australia, but the top job at the apex of our constitutional system, is determined on merit. The office of Australia’s Head of State should similarly be chosen on merit, not on birthright.

Australia’s Head of State should be Australian. We need someone to identify with, someone who lives here amongst us and understands what it means to be Australian. The Queen and her family are not Australian and do not live here. Of course they visit every now and then, at considerable expense to Australian taxpayers, but the Queen is seen around the world as the Queen of England. When she visits other countries she, quite reasonably, does so as the British Head of State and promotes British interests, including British industry and business. So too her family.

The move to an Australian Head of State is about giving our children and their descendants a truly independent nation that is seen to be standing on its own two feet. Britain and the British monarchy are no longer relevant to our lives in Australia. We are proud of our heritage but its time for Australia to move on.


The Australian Republican Movement welcomes reports that Prince Charles will be visiting Australia in March, his first visit to these shores in 11 years. It will be a timely reminder to Australians that he will be our future King Charles III, and that his wayward sons are edging ever closer to that title.

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Allison Henry is National Director of the Australian Republican Movement.

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