News of the royal engagement between Prince William and Miss Catherine Middleton was welcomed by most Australians except by the Republican Movement.

Prince William and Kate Middleton announce their engagement, 16 November 2011A statement from Clarence House said, “His Royal Highness Prince William of Wales and Miss Catherine Middleton are engaged to be married.”

“Prince William and Miss Middleton became engaged in October during a private holiday in Kenya. Prince William has informed The Queen and other close members of his family. Prince William has also sought the permission of Miss Middleton’s father.”

“The wedding will take place in the spring or summer of 2011 in London. Further details about the wedding will be announced in due course.”

Australian Governor-General Quentin Bryce said the royal engagement has warmed “the nation’s heart” and looks forward to welcoming them during a future visit.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott also offered their congratulations in Federal Parliament.

Meanwhile, the women’s magazines have gone into overdrive producing souvenir editions for the occasion.

Australians had also celebrated when Mary Donaldson married Crown Prince Frederik in Denmark on 14 May 2004.

The Republic Debate Again?

However, not everyone is happy about this exciting news.

Feminist writer and campaigner Beatrix Campbell expressed her disgust to Sydney Morning Herald journalist Kira Cochrane, claiming the House of Windsor mistreats its women.

Some supporters of the republican cause, especially chairman of the Australian Republican Movement, Major General Michael Keating, who claims the royal engagement is “pretty irrelevant to Australia,” but he still uses the occasion to push for another referendum.

Australian Greens leader Bob Brown adds there is nothing Australian about the royal wedding.

Royal correspondent James Whitaker told Nine Network Australia’s Alison Langdon in a television special that Kate was “too common” as her mother was a flight attendant, and her grandfather was a coal miner.

Ingrid Seward, editor-in-chief of Majesty, disagrees. “I think it’s terrific Kate’s family are ordinary because that exactly what the Windsor line needs. A bit of ordinary blood pumped into it.

Many predict the royal wedding will help boost the British economy by drawing tourists to London in 2011.

Royal Precedents

Edward IV was the first English monarch since 1066 to marry a commoner in a secret ceremony in 1464. His grandson Henry VIII continued this tradition when he secretly married his second wife, Anne Boleyn, in a secret ceremony in January 1533 after divorcing his first wife. He married his third wife, Jane Seymour, at Whitehall Palace on 30 May 1536 after his second was executed.

Charles II’s eldest illegitimate son, James Duke of Monmouth, claimed his father had actually married his mother, Lucy Walter to prove his legitimacy but he never produced the necessary evidence to support his claim.

His brother James II secretly married Anne Hyde at Breda in 1659, much to his mother’s disgust, and again in public on 3 September 1660 at Worcester House on The Strand, London. They produced two daughters: the future Mary II and Anne.

© 2010 Carolyn M Cash


Australians for Constitutional Monarchy

British Royal Wedding for 2011, ABC News (AM with Tony Eastley), 17 November 2010

His Royal Highness Prince William of Wales and Miss Catherine Middleton are engaged to be married, Clarence House, 16 November 2010

Prince William and Kate Middleton’s engagement reignites Australian republic debate, AAP, 17 November 2010

Republicans out to crash royal wedding, ABC News, 17 November 2010

Royal engagement a test for the republican cause, The Australian, 18 November 2010

Cochrane, Kira, Despite the frills, it’s no fairytale for Windsor women, The Sydney Morning Herald, 18 November 2010

Weir, Alison, Britain’s Royal Families: The Complete Genealogy, Vintage Books, London, 2008

Williamson, David, Debrett’s Kings and Queens of Britain, Webb & Bower (Publishers) Limited, London, 1986

This article was originally published by Suite 101 on 21 November 2010.

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