Meghan Markle’s comment about Archie ‘has resonances’ for Australian republicanism

Meghan Markle: Archie ‘would have been protected’ says expert

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The Duchess of Sussex recalled a quote from the book ‒ “if you can see it, you can be it” ‒ which she related to the importance of representation and diversity. Meghan said: “We read these books and now he’s been ‒ there’s one line in it that goes, ‘If you can see it, you can be it’. “And he goes, ‘You can be it!’ and I think about that so often, especially in the context of these young girls, but even grown women and men who I would meet in our time in the Commonwealth, how much it meant to them to be able to see someone who looks like them in this position.”

She added: “I could never understand how it wouldn’t be seen as an added benefit and a reflection of the world today.”

Australian historian Professor Jenny Hocking said that, while Meghan relates this quote to race, it can also be applied to Australia and its relationship with the Royal Family.

She argued that while Australians can see the monarch as the head of state, they can never be it, whereas if they had an Australian head of state, it is something they could aspire to and achieve.

She told “One of the things I wanted to say that I found very important about Meghan’s comments, in particular, is when she related her favourite kids’ book that she reads to her son Archie, which was about the importance of representation.

“I mean, this is an interpretation of the comments in the book, which she reads out as being the capacity to achieve anything, to aspire to anything and if possible to achieve anything.

“‘If you can see it, you can be it’ is the term she used.

“Now, she’s relating that to issues of race and the capacity to have representation of different races and the significance of diversity, meaning if you see royal models for yourself in general then they’re notions that you can aspire to and seek to achieve.

“But I think it has resonances too here for our discussions in Australia about our head of state.

“That is a position we can never aspire to. We can see it, but we can never be it.

“Because that position is only and automatically an inherited position held by the monarch, the British monarch, and I thought that was a tremendous comment.”

Prof Hocking is a member of the National Executive for the Australian Republic Movement, an organisation that is the driving force for discussions about ditching the monarchy down u

She told that Meghan and Harry’s interview has led to an increase in membership in recent weeks, contributing to the momentum they have had over the past year, which saw an uptick of 19 percent.

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She claimed the interview has provided a window into life inside Palace walls and that the view is “not a palatable one”.

The emeritus professor added that it has sparked conversations about why an “entirely dysfunctional family” and a “totally arcane and out of touch monarchy” is still their head of state.

Prof Hocking also claimed that the Oprah interview “highlighted the contradictions at the heart of a monarchy in a modern democratic state”, in that they are “fundamentally incompatible”.

She argued that because the premise of a Royal Family is around hereditary titles, that is naturally at odds with the modern ideas of meritocracy, democratic processes and accountability.

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She branded the interview a “chink in the armour” of royal secrecy, something which she has been battling for years.

Prof Hocking spearheaded a campaign to have the National Archives of Australia release letters to and from the Queen, her private secretary and the Australian Governor General in the Seventies.

These Palace Letters were under embargo until she took the National Archives to court and it was ruled that the correspondence should be released.

The significance of the letters was that they were written in the run-up to the Dismissal, an Australian constitutional crisis that took place in 1975.

This involved the Governor-General Sir John Kerr dismissing elected Prime Minister Gough Whitlam and his government after they failed to get their budget through, and had Leader of the Opposition Malcolm Tucker take office.

Debate has raged ever since as to whether Sir John had the authority to do this and whether the Queen had any prior knowledge as to his intentions, and whether the royal household actually had any involvement in that decision.

These letters, according to Prof Hocking, revealed that the Queen indeed knew ahead of time that Sir John would take this step, meaning she knew more than the Australian elected representatives.

Details on this can be found in Prof Hocking’s new book on the subject.

‘The Palace Letters: the Queen, the Governor-General and the Plot to Dismiss Gough Whitlam’ was written by Jenny Hocking and published in 2020 by Scribe UK. Details here.

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