Millions of Australians, whatever their views on the monarchy, are united in mourning after waking up to news of The Queen’s death, aged 96.
But some could barely wait a few hours to use Her Majesty’s death to push their own agendas, or make cheap jokes as her health failed in the last hours of her life.
The Australian Republican Movement, and its chairman Peter FitzSimons, waited just 17 minutes after her death was announced at 3.30am AEST.
After brief condolences, the organisation noted Her Majesty ‘respected the self-determination of the Australian people’ in a thinly veiled reference to the republic.
Journalist and author Peter FitzSimons (pictured with his wife Lisa Wilkinson) is the chair of the Australian Republic Movement
The Queen’s death was announced about 3.30am and Adam Bandt posted his tweet at 8.27am
‘The Queen backed the right of Australians to become a fully independent nation during the referendum on an Australian republic in 1999, saying that she has “always made it clear that the future of the Monarchy in Australia is an issue for the Australian people and them alone to decide, by democratic and constitutional means”,’ it said.
The statement was release even before Prime Minister Anthony Albanese issued his own, lengthy, one at 4.47am.
Despite his organisation alluding to the need for a republic, FitzSimons himself said now was not the time to start the conversation.
‘For the moment, what happens now is keeping respectful silence,’ he wrote on Twitter in response to a question from a republic supporter.
‘Apart from quotes provided in case of her death, our only statement was the one acknowledging Her Majesty’s contribution to Australia for over 70 years.
‘There will be much to say, but now not time to say it.’
Greens leader Adam Bandt had no such tact, waiting just five hours to call for Australia to ‘move forward’ and become a republic.
The staunch republican, who refuses to put the Australian flag with its Union Jack corner behind him at press conferences, posted a brief tweet at 8.27am.
‘Rest In Peace Queen Elizabeth II. Our thoughts are with her family and all who loved her,’ he began – his entire condolence statement.
‘Now Australia must move forward. We need Treaty with First Nations people, and we need to become a Republic.’
Greens leader Adam Bandt has waited just five hours after The Queen’s death was announced to call for Australia to ‘move forward’ and become a republic
The Queen’s death was announced about 3.30am and Australian morning TV shows announced the news an hour later, followed by a statement by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at 4.47am.
Mr Bandt frequently calls for an Australian republic, believing the country needs its own head of state and the royals are too closely tied to colonialism.
His deputy, Senator Mehreen Faruqi, was even less respectful in her own tweet, and also took the opportunity to demand reparations for indigenous people.
‘I cannot mourn the leader of a racist empire built on stolen lives, land and wealth of colonised peoples,’ she wrote.
‘We are reminded of the urgency of treaty with First Nations, justice and reparations for British colonies and becoming a republic.’
She said last year: ‘The royals preside over an empire that has enslaved millions of black and brown people around the world. Their racism and colonialism continues.
‘If we’re truly interested in the tackling racism in our country, we need to break ties with the royals.’
Mr Bandt also backed up controversial indigenous Greens senator Lidia Thorpe who called The Queen a ‘coloniser’ when swearing her oath of office.
‘I sovereign, Lidia Thorpe, do solemnly and sincerely swear that I will be faithful and I bear allegiance to the colonising Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II,’ she said.
Mr Albanese is also a republican and appointed a minister for the republic to eventually explore breaking Australia with the monarchy – but not the Commonwealth.
However, he made no mention of this aspiration in his statement or address to the nation, which had nothing but praise for The Queen.
In 1999, Australians narrowly voted against removing the queen, amid a row over whether her replacement would be chosen by members of parliament, not the public.
Polls show most Australians are in favour of being a republic, but there is little agreement on how a head of state should be chosen.
Mr Bandt also backed up controversial indigenous Greens senator Lidia Thorpe who called The Queen a ‘coloniser’ when swearing her oath of office
Abbie Chatfield used The Queen’s death as an excuse to remind her fans of Britain’s colonial history, and said the idea of Charles becoming king made her physically ill.
Without even getting out of bed on Friday morning, she began by saying The Queen’s death was ‘obviously sad’ for the Royal Family, but swiftly moved on to criticising colonialism and the monarchy.
‘[It’s] obviously sad that someone has died, sad for her family. The colonialism, not great; the monarchy, not my favourite thing in the world,’ she said.
‘He isn’t very kind or competent. I don’t really know, and I haven’t good things about Charles.’
‘Also, it isn’t [the] 1700s. “The King”? Ew! Ew! Oh, my God. I knew this day was coming, but I don’t like it. “King Charles…”‘ she added, retching as if about to vomit.
TV presenter Em Rusciano had a more nuanced take, pointing out what The Queen represented was complicated even if she as a person was beloved.
The comedian said people should be allowed to react to Her Majesty’s death in their own way, contrasting her late grandmother Denise’s love for The Queen with the pain indigenous people felt from colonialism.
‘She represented so many conflicting and some unforgivable legacies. Today we must also consider our First Nations peoples and what this represents for them,’ she said.
‘Much will be debated today and moving forward around her family and what they’ve done throughout the years, and I imagine there will be some policing of people’s grief.
‘On both sides, those who mourn her and those who mourn what her institution has done. To that I say, let everyone do it their way.’
Rusciano finished on a positive note by praising The Queen’s more than 70 years of serve and the extraordinary example she set.
‘The Queen was an extraordinary example of service, stoicism and endurance that we’re not likely to see again,’ she said.
‘She held on until the UK had a new PM and even met with Liz Truss the day of her death in Balmoral. She reigned so long she attained single name, icon diva status.’
In a similar vein, indigenous professor Sandy O’Sullivan at 7.36am described The Queen as the ‘architect’ of colonialism who built her wealth on ‘pain and suffering’.
The Macquarie University professor of Indigenous Studies wrote that the late monarch failed to intervene to protect Aboriginal Australians from harm.
‘For those saying we should be magnanimous about the passing of the queen, a reminder that the queen inserted herself into the lives of Indigenous people here multiple times,’ they wrote.
‘She wasn’t a bystander to the effects of colonisation and colonialism, she was an architect of it.
‘Demanding Indigenous people be respectful about the passing of someone who intentionally made our lives worse is outrageous. It’s worth considering what she *could* have done – and didn’t – to effect change.
‘At so many times across the 20th Century, she could have intervened and reset the relationship between Indigenous people and “the crown”, because she had more than ceremonial power to do so. She did nothing.’
Professor O’Sullivan also accused The Queen of being an ‘active participant in stealing’ Aboriginal land.
‘Instead of handing back, making reparations from her enormous wealth, her agents (that she had explicit control of, see “The Dismissal”) continued to steal land and when they had it all, they stole our children,’ they wrote.
Recently unsealed documents proved John Kerr, the Governor-General at the time of The Dismissal, sacked then-prime minister Gough Whitlam unilaterally without the direction, or knowledge, of The Queen.
Indigenous professor Sandy O’Sullivan at 7.36am described The Queen as the ‘architect’ of colonialism who built her wealth on ‘pain and suffering’
Professor O’Sullivan continued: ‘She had influence over the “Commonwealth”. Her wealth is not just ceremonial, and it was not acquired passively. It was built on the pain and suffering of Indigenous people.
‘That was the plan all along and that’s the plan that she was an agent of her whole career.’
Earlier, comedy group The Chaser made a joke post The Queen’s health woes little over four hours before she died.
The funnymen uploaded a photoshopped image of the Queen about 11pm on Thursday AEST, turning Her Majesty’s fight for life into a joke about suicide prevention day, R U OK? Day.
The image was captioned: ‘R U OKAY day not going well at the palace’.
The joke did not go down well at the time, and was even less well received after news of Her Majesty’s death.
But the comedy group was undeterred and published a stream of other pieces of satire that many readers found to be in poor taste, along with a mock apology.
‘Sometimes in comedy you put a foot wrong. Last night we tweeted some things in the heat of the moment that on reflection were still very funny and you can all expect another week of this,’ it wrote.
The Chaser has been slammed for making a distasteful post of Queen Elizabeth II hours before she died at the age of 96
Another satire outfit, the Beetoota Advocate, was more restrained but did post one joke article that raised eyebrows
R U OK? Day: Explained
R U OK Day? is held in Australia on September 8 each year – the idea behind it being that Australians will ask one another whether they are OK.
The charity of the same name was founded by the Gavin Larkin, whose father Barry, took his own life, in 1995.
To honour his dad, Mr Larkin started a nationwide campaign for Australians to look out ‘for those that we care about’.
The idea behind the campaign is to raise awareness of how suicide can be prevented with open conversations about mental health.
Further jokes after her death was announced included ‘God fails to save Queen’, ‘Queen quiet quits’, and ‘JK Rowling furious to hear monarch has transitioned to a man’.
Chaser publisher Charles Firth also wrote a mock memo to staff urging them to ‘be respectful’ by not discussing a wide range of topics.
‘When talking about The Queen’s legacy, don’t focus on the… son (Prince Andrew) that she protected. And it goes without saying that Diana never existed. We don’t want the website to crash (with complaints about puns about her),’ one line read.
Another satire outfit, the Beetoota Advocate, was more restrained but did post one joke article that raised eyebrows.
‘Remembering The Queen: She Survived WWII, The IRA, The Sex Pistols… But Boris Was Too Much,’ the headline read, in reference to former PM Boris Johnson.
One line read: ‘Although she was able to live long enough to see him finally ousted as prime minister 24 hours ago, it seems his bumbling leadership and incompetent governing eventually took its toll.’