Whenever I think of Australia's David Flint and his valiant band of monarchists, I am reminded of Lieutenant Chard at Rorke's Drift, of intrepid action and intelligent leadership with a tactical instinct for self-preservation, the kind that is able to stare futility in the face and laugh.
The Battle of Rorke's Drift, January 22/23, 1879.
The Battle of Rorke's Drift is one of those irresistible stories that will amaze for generations to come. In what became known as one of history's finest defences, 139 British redcoats miraculously defended a small garrison in January 1879 against an intense and sustained assault by more than 4,000 Zulu warriors. Eleven of those 139 soldiers went on to win the Victoria Cross, the most ever for a single action, including Lt. Chard for his role in commanding the defence of the mission outpost, and for his courageous leadership, intelligence and tenacity against overwhelming odds.
Rorke's Drift is analagous here because but for the unheralded work of A.C.M. and others, Australia's intelligentsia is almost uniformly republican, from its political class to its media, academic and social elite, and its other self-appointed guardians of the national interest. It's as if the brave monarchists Down Under, who are the true custodians of Australia's history, culture and institutions, are alone in their redoubt, ably protecting the nation's precious constitutional order against the chattering onslaught of republican inevitability.
The innovative political genius of Professor Flint - that Australia has a choice between a "crowned republic" (i.e., the status quo) or a "politician's republic" (a dangerous leap of faith) - calls to mind the survival instincts of Lt. Chard, who implicitly recognized the need to shorten his defensive perimeter against the approaching hordes, and facilitated a tactical retreat behind a bisected position.
In similar fashion, Dr. Flint is shortening the parameters of public debate by arguing that we are effectively already a republic, thereby avoiding the abstract (monarchy versus republic) and pseudo-nationalist (Queen versus Mate for Head of State) distractions that prevent us from focussing on the substantive issue (Crown versus politician) that confronts us, such as the vital role the Crown plays in providing a level of leadership above politics, and in safeguarding us from our own hubris on the virtues of popular democracy.
Retreating behind the walls of a "crowned republic" may be grating to the royalist, but there are circumstances when strategic retreats and partial evacuations are necessary, and when obstinancy no longer serves the public interest. The staunch royalist may shout from the rooftops that Australia is not a crowned republic, that it is an independent kingdom, a commonwealth realm and a constitutional monarchy, as evidenced by it having a Queen, but what good are semantic plumes when the country was long ago sapped of its royalist spirit?
Loyalty to our country, our Queen and our cherished system of government requires that we fight to defend these things in the political arena where the battle will be won or lost. It is vital that we preseve the constitutional arrangement whereby power rests with the people and authority rests with the Crown, so that ultimately the rights and liberties of the individual can be protected if those two things - power and authority - remain properly segregated.
Unfortunately the encroaching politician has done much to consolidate them, and the fate of the individual is becoming as vulnerable as the hapless patients in the garrison hospital at Rorke's Drift.