Strange Politics: Turnbull's encounter with “adulterer”

GRABBING a pole on public transport and feeling something warm, fleshy and hand-like in your grip. Looking up and noticing an unshaven, swarthy gentleman staring back at you. That's awkward.

Calling your Year 9 teacher "mum" in a momentary lapse of judgment and forever earning the moniker Oedipus the Mother Lover for your innocent mistake.

That elicits a fair cringe.

But even worse than accidentally liking someone's swimsuit photo from 2009 during a secret Facebook stalk?

Coming face-to-face with Prince Charles when you have publicly called him an "unashamed adulterer" would have to take the cake.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's discomfort glands must have been bursting when our future king touched down on the tarmac in Melbourne this week. He played gracious host and presumably made no mention of his former post as head of the Australian Republican Movement.

Turnbull said in a book 25 years ago that Charles was unlikely to ever be king because of his "apparently unashamed adultery with the wife of another man".

But he avoided any tough-talking about an Australian republic during the Prince's visit this time around.

"If Charles becomes the King of the United Kingdom, as I've got no doubt he will be, unless our constitution has been changed, he will become the King of Australia," he told reporters.

"The opportunities for the country are enormous.

"The opportunities for constitutional change are somewhat more challenging than the opportunities for strong economic growth," Turnbull added.

I stood in a huddled crowd of staunch monarchists outside the Sydney Commonwealth Bank headquarters in Martin Place on Thursday, waiting for Charles and Camilla to shake a few adoring hands. These waist-high Sydney ladies pack a serious elbow when trying to negotiate (unashamedly shove) their way to the front of the throng.

There were thousands of them. I got chatting to a few members of the Australian Monarchists League, one of whom refused to comment about Malcolm Turnbull.

"We do not want a republic," she assured me.

"We want to keep what we treasure in this country."

Another suggested Turnbull was "very charming" and doing a good job so far, but said any move towards a republic would severely damage her opinion of him.

Politicians shouldn't underestimate just how many people still support a constitutional monarchy under the Queen, even if a Australian Republican Movement poll found 51% of voters would prefer an Australian head of state to a King Charles.

So Turnbull's reluctant agreement to wait until after Queen Elizabeth has died might be wise in the end.

Strange Politics is a satirical column. Follow Chris Calcino on Twitter: @ChrisCalcino

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