The Queen complained that Gough Whitlam was rude to the lesser Royals

Sep 22, 2022
Gough Whitlam delivering the 1972 election policy speech at the Blacktown Civic Centre in Sydney, 1972.
Image: Wikimedia Commons

In 1974 in Kingston, Jamaica, aboard her yacht The Britannia, the Queen told me that ‘your Prime Minister had been ‘rude’ to my family.’ I was the Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet at the time.

Forgive me for mentioning it but when you read down you will understand.

Prior to that meeting between the Queen and Gough Whitlam he had told me one of the matters he intended to raise with the Queen.

He was concerned that some state premiers, particularly Charles Court from WA and Joe Bjelke Petersen from Queensland were making a habit of inviting princes and princesses to visit their state. These ‘lesser royals’ were only too keen to have a free trip to Australia.

Gough Whitlam was embarrassed in a situation where it was difficult for him to refuse and where it would cause embarrassment both personal and political. So he suggested to the Queen that princes and princesses should be discouraged from engineering visits to Australia via state premiers.

He told the Queen that she and Prince Phillip were very welcome, but other members of the royal family should be discouraged.

That evening, the Queen said to me that ‘Your prime minister was very nice to Prince Phillip and me, but he was very rude to other members of my family’!

Some would say it is bad form to retell such stories of conversations with our Head of State. But why should we show restraint?

A succession of British monarchs presided over the violent occupation of Australia, collaborated in the century long humiliation of China and the exploitation and starvation of Ireland. That was rudeness and much worse on a grand scale.

But the Queen gets in a tiff if someone is impolite or even rude to her about her free loading family.

Give us a break!

 

A repost from May 17, 2016. Slightly edited.

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