School of Historical and Philosophical Studies
Date: Wednesday, 4 April 2012 6.30pm
Location: Theatre D Ground Floor, Old Arts Building University of Melbourne
Information: The Lost Option: Australia and the British Monarchy
Speaker: Associate Professor Jim Davidson Honorary (Principal Fellow) School of Historical and Philosophical Studies
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Further information: For further information please contact June McBeth or T: 8344 5142
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Underlying this lecture is the question posed by Brazil, which in the nineteenth century slid out of the Portuguese orbit with an Emperor of its own. Why was there no similar royal devolution in the British Empire? Instead, there have been deliberate attempts to strengthen the monarchy in Australia, not least by Labor governments. The present-day situation is considered, with its revival of royal popularity.
Basically, the republicans (promoting an Australian head of state) and the monarchists (who cherish our existing forms of government) are talking past each other. An Australian constitutional monarchy would reconcile the two positions – but it has become a lost option. Meanwhile the British royal family goes through its paces, more as visiting celebrities than anything else.
Principal Research Fellow (Honorary) at the Australian Centre in the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, Associate Professor Jim Davidson, is primarily a biographer. His recent biography of Sir Keith Hancock, A Three-Cornered Life, was described by Geoffrey Blainey as “one of the very best Australian biographies about a mind at work.” Between them his two biographies have won six prizes, including the Prime Minister’s History Prize for 2011.