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Friday, October 21, 2011

Oz PM couldn't stoop to a Royal curtsey: Gillard under fire for ignoring protocol (and not bothering to wear a hat)

-Julia Gillard, a self-confessed republican, chose to bow instead
-She was greeting the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh on their 11-day tour
-Monarchist describes Gillard's actions as 'churlish' and lacking respect

By Richard Shears

Scroll down to see a video of the Queen's arrival

Look, no hat: Julia Gillard fails to curtsey and shakes the Queen's hand as the monarch arrives in Canberra at the start of her 11-day tour

The British-born prime minister of Australia has been accused of disrespect over her failure to curtsey to the Queen.

Julia Gillard, who is in favour of Australia becoming a republic, said curtseying is ‘just not me’.

Instead she shook the Queen’s hand when the monarch arrived in Canberra at the start of a demanding ten-day tour. She also drew criticism for not wearing a hat.

Welcome: Miss Gillard, left, a staunch republican, greets the Queen and Prince Philip. Australian Governor General Quentin Bryce, in pink, who was also there to greet the monarch, did curtsey

Show of respect: Governor General Bryce curtseyed to both the Queen and Prince Philip at a later meeting

By contrast Australia’s governor general, Quentin Bryce – who was born in Brisbane – curtseyed to both the Queen and Prince Philip.

Miss Gillard, 50, was born in Wales and moved to Australia with her parents when she was four.
Asked on Melbourne radio whether she believed curtseying was demeaning, she said: ‘Some things are you, some things aren’t. I made a choice and I thought I would feel most comfortable with bowing my head. The advice was to do what comes most comfortably and naturally.’


Miss Gillard is far from being the first public figure to have breached protocol with respect to the Queen.

A rule concerning the sovereign has been set in stone for generations. 'Whatever you do, don't touch the Queen,' courtiers are apt to warn.

But during a G20 reception at Buckingham Palace in 2009, Michelle Obama put her hand around the Queen for about 10 seconds

Finding herself next to Mrs Obama, the Queen had remarked on their height difference. As she did so, her hand edged towards the small of Mrs Obama's back. Mrs Obama responded - and even rubbed the Queen's shoulder - before both women moved gently apart.

The Queen and Michelle Obama put their arms around one another during a G20 meeting at Buckingham Palace

In May, during the Queen's first official visit to the Republic of Ireland, Irish president Mary McAleese, like Miss Gillard, greeted the Queen with a simple handshake.

Miss Gillard, however, is not even the first Australian prime minister to have breached royal protocol.

In 1992 Paul Keating was given the nickname of 'Lizard of Oz' after he touched the Queen's lower back with his arm as he guided her through a crowd of people.

In 2000 another Australian premier, John Howard, denied touching the monarch as he introduced her to MPs at a VIP reception.

Last year, while visiting Canada, racehorse owner Don Romeo put his hand on her back as she handed a trophy to the owner of the winning horse at the Queen's Plate Stakes in Toronto.

His breach of protocol was swiftly corrected, however, when his Jockey, Eurico Da Silva, executed two bows so low that his head was level with the Queen's waist.

So how should one behave?

There are no obligatory codes of behaviour when meeting the Queen or members of the Royal Family, but many people wish to observe tradition.

For men this is a neck bow (from the head only) whilst women execute a small curtsey.

For those who prefer, it is in fact perfectly acceptable simply to shake hands.

On presentation to the Queen, the correct formal address is 'Your Majesty' and subsequently 'Ma'am'. For male royals the same rules apply, with the title used in the first instance being 'Your Royal Highness' and subsequently 'Sir'.

For other female members of the Royal Family the first address is conventionally 'Your Royal Highness' followed by 'Ma'am'.

Source: www.royal.gov.uk

Mr Romeo's actions were swiftly forgotten about when his jockey performed an elaborate bow

In the pink: The Queen smiles in the sunshine with Floriade head gardener Andrew Forster at the flower festival in Canberra today, the second day of the royal visit to Australia

Flower girl: The Queen meets six-year-old Lilly Haskins, whose elder sister saved her life. Right, the Queen radiant in the sunshine with the Duke of Edinburgh

Royal voyage: The crew of the royal barge salute as the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh disembark for their visit to the Floriade Festival

On the water: The Queen and Prince Philip are ferried across Lake Burley Griffin to the Floriade festival

The royal couple were ferried across the laike aboard the Admiral's Barge, built in Brisbane in 1993 to the design of the official royal barge

The royal website, which gives official advice on how to behave when meeting the Queen, states that there are ‘no obligatory codes of behaviour – just courtesy’.

It does say that many people wish to observe the traditional forms of greeting and suggests curtseying for women and bowing for men as appropriate.

Republicans have pointed out that other prominent women have also decided that a handshake is more appropriate. Cherie Blair declined to curtsey to the Queen and wore trousers on a visit to Balmoral in 1997.

William Hanson, a British etiquette and protocol expert, told Sydney’s 3AW radio that Miss Gillard should have curtseyed and worn a hat.

‘She is your prime minister, she is representing the people, but the Queen tops her, so as a sign of respect, whatever her opinion on the monarchy is, she should have curtseyed.

‘Whatever you believe about the monarchy, if you don’t curtsey, you don’t bow, it’s not going to bring down the monarchy. You’re not making some grand gesture that’s going to shake it to its core. It’s just a bit churlish not to do it.’

Matthew Archer, deputy chairman of the Victoria branch of the Australian Monarchist League, described Miss Gillard’s choice of a handshake as ‘rude and impolite’.

As the controversy took over social websites, prominent Australian TV host Lisa Wilkinson tweeted: ‘Small thing: saw GG [governor general] curtsey to Queen but not the PM. Anyone know background to that?’

Crowds of well wishers wait for the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh at Floriade wharf for the flower show

But Miss Gillard insisted she had done nothing wrong, pointing out that she was an admirer of the Queen and believed many Australians held her with a great deal of affection and respect – ‘and so do I’.

She added: ‘I mean, what a life, what an incredible life she’s lived over so many generations of change and to see someone play such a steadfast role over so much change, I think, is remarkable.’



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