By Ian Leslie Macdonald via Getty Images.
Australians may not pledge allegiance to the Union Jack or tune in to the BBC, but they—like Canadians and Samoans and Ghanaians—are still technically subjects of her majesty the Queen, residents of one of the 53 British Commonwealth countries. And, as such, they are entitled to one portrait of the Queen, provided by the Australian government, and available by written request.
This quirk of Australian patriotism, established by the Parliamentary Entitlements Act in 1990, was highlighted by Vice in a piece published Wednesday, and since then members of Australian Parliament have been “bombarded” with portrait requests from their constituents, according to The Guardian. Vice’s Nicholas Lord wrote in his piece that he had written his M.P. to ask for the portrait and was told that they were out of stock. But three weeks later, he had his official Elizabeth image and a few complimentary official Australian flags.
Kate Bingham, a 27-year-old Canberra, Australia, native and advertising creative currently based in New York City, was instantly intrigued when she read the Vice story this week. At first, she posted the story as a joke on Facebook, asking her girlfriend if she should get a portrait of the Queen for their living room. Then, just to see if, like Lord, she could get this to work, Bingham e-mailed her local MP Gai Brodtmann, to ask for the image. She received a reply two hours later, informing her that the office was out of stock, but they could, indeed, provide her with a copy.
Bingham said that she did initially think of requesting the portrait as a joke, but is excited to have the Queen represented in her home.
“As a colonial country, we’ve been ruled by another country since our inception,” she told Vanity Fair on a phone call. “I just think the Queen especially embodies this kind of graceful, cold, British element that kind of acts like an authority figure to Australians. The idea of power today is so ugly; it’s all white angry men who are loud and they’re riddled with corruption and ego. Someone like the Queen offers a completely traditional, soft, gentle, and bizarrely, really approachable, calm manner that we can lean on.”
Bingham added that a lot of young people, even if they’re averse to the monarchy, remain fans of Queen Elizabeth, who most likely reminds them of their grandmothers. She added that she’s not sure how her fellow citizens will feel when the Queen dies and Prince Charles presumably takes the throne.
“There’s a bit of pride in having the Queen be our ruler and a bit of love for her,” Bingham said. “I don’t know if it’s about the grand/maternal thing. It will be kind of fun to have it up in our living room. I think it’s something that will also be a funny family heirloom one day.”
If Bingham wants, she could get an official portrait of Prince Philip. Unfortunately, the corgis are not available.
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