Ah, remember how the Left laughed and mocked Tony Abbott for
reintroducing knighthoods and dames. Remember when Tony explained how it
“There won’t be very many Knights and Dames in the Order of Australia,” Abbott said.
“There may be – I say may be – up to four a year, but they will be
people of extraordinary achievement and pre-eminence and I believe that
no one gets to be the Governor-General of this great Commonwealth
without being a person of extraordinary achievement and pre-eminence.”
So, the first two were the outgoing Governor-General, Dame Quentin
Bryce and the incoming Governor-General, Sir Peter Cosgrove. Given his
suggestion that it was pretty much an automatic thing for
Governors-General to be awarded this honour, there was hardly any
surprise with the choice.
The question of who would be our next knights or dames was the
interesting question. I’m sure many of you had sleepless nights and that
many pub conversations and barbeques were dominated by wondering
whether it’d be some ex-politician like John Howard, or someone with an
outstanding record in the area of charity such as Peter’s more likeable
brother, Tim Costello, or even, perhaps, someone who’d selflessly
devoted themselves to becoming as rich as possible like Rupert or Gina.
When the name Angus Houston popped up, I thought, of course. Apart
from his distinguished career as a military man, he did all that work on
those missing planes, and while not finding on of them cruelled his
chances for Australian of The Year, a knighthood was still an
appropriate reward for all his service to this country. A fine choice!
And as the man himself said:
“I was very comfortable with who I am and what I am,” he said.
“It’s a great honour to be recognised in this way but I’d like people to still call me Angus.”
I’m glad he cleared that up, because had I met him I’d have wondered
if I should call him Mr Houston, Chief Air Marshall or Loretta. But
Angus it is. Would ‘Gus be ok too, I wonder, or is that a bit informal
for someone like that.
Yes, the PM was correct to suggest that Angus had always put Australia first.
But now we had our woman, our soldier and our air force person,
obviously we needed a sailor to complete the pack, otherwise the navy
would feel left out. Much to everyone’s surprise, Abbott found a little
known navy person, whom he wanted to recognise for his services to
Australians – Prince Philip, a man that I’m sure has always put
Australia in his top three. He was known for his services to some
of the Australian women, according to various sources, but I have no
confirmation of that.
For those of you who don’t know much about this latest knight of Australia, here are a few facts:
- “Prince” is not his actual first name, but a title bestowed on him
at birth, when he was “Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark”. (Now that
he’s been given the knighthood, it’s possible that he’ll be known as
“Sir Philip” or “The Sailor Who Used To Prince”)
- His family was kicked out of Greece when he was a baby – not sure why.
- He joined the British Royal Navy in 1939, at the age of 18, which was a pretty bad year to join as it turned out.
- He is also known as “The Duke Of Edinburgh”, and is believed to have
been worried that if Scotland had voted for independence he may have
had to change his title to “The Duke of Hazard”.
- The “Duke Of Edinburgh” awards were actually named after him, and not the other way around.
- He married his third cousin, a woman called Elizabeth with whom he began correspending when she was 13.
- He has four children, which coincedently are three boys and one
girl. Just like the knighthoods awarded by Mr Abbott. Three of his
chlidren have been through a divorce, which suggests that it’s not a
good family to marry into.
- He commented at the 1986 “Duke of Edinburgh” Awards: “Young people are the same as they always were. Just as ignorant.”
- His sisters were married to German princes, so they didn’t get an
invite to his wedding in 1951. Something to do with sensitivities about
- He commented during the 1981 recession: “A few years ago,
everybody was saying we must have more leisure, everyone’s working too
much. Now everybody’s got more leisure time they’re complaining they’re
unemployed. People don’t seem to make up their minds what they want.”
So, I hope you can see why this man was such an outstanding choice
for our fourth knighthood (if you include the dames as part of the
knighthood, it seems awkward to be saying knightandordamehoods)! The
choice of Prince Philip (I wonder if he’ll suggest we just call him
Angus, too) shows what an excellent idea it was to reintroduce these
imperial honours and allow people who wouldn’t have access to such a
high title, the chance to be recognised. When Abbott first introduced
them, people suggested that it was a crazy idea, but I think you’ll all
agree, that this just shows how firm a grip Abbott has on reality, and
what an astute politician he really is. If we can’t honour rich men who
live overseas on Australian Day, when can we?