No matter where you live, the legal system is… weird. Some laws created decades ago, in a less enlightened world, still stand strong in the present day no matter how ridiculous they may be. Like, it’s quite silly that practicing “occult arts” such as fortune telling and astrology are technically still illegal in Oregon. It’s just strange.
Though that is bizarre, there’s one active parliamentary code that is laughably causing a stir in Australia. The long-buried law was dug up, went viral, and is now being used to annoy the hell out of Australian politicians.
Considering Australia, the former UK colony, is still ruled under the British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, in all of her corgi-loving glory, is highly honored and glorified by the Aussies.
Queen Elizabeth II has been ruling since 1952, and apparently parliament encouraged Australians beneath her to bask in the pleasure of her regime, as proven via the creation of a 1990 act, which it’s probably regretting now.
See, under this parliamentary code, Australian federal lawmakers are obliged to hand out certain items of “taxpayer-funded nationhood material” to the “constituents’ request program.” Though it sounds like a bunch of fancy words mushed together, it’s really simple…
The Sydney Morning Herald
Freebies. In a sense, Australians are entitled to freebies of Australia-themed merch whenever they please, which includes portraits of Queen Elizabeth II herself. An article published by Vice Australia made news of the brushed-under-the-rug law go viral in 2018.
Aside from portraits of the sherbet-hued-suit-donning Queen Elizabeth, the law gives Aussies the capacity to request pictures of the queen’s husband, Prince Philip, flags, and recordings of the national anthem.
Loads of Australian citizens are having fun with this exciting discovery of rights. All Aussies have to do is write to their local MP about nabbing their own complimentary Australian nationhood items, and boy are they doing it.
MP for the opposition Labor party Tim Watts spoke to Australia’s ABC News’ radio about the obnoxious aftereffect of the viral Vice article. Within approximately 24 hours of the article being published, he received four-dozen requests for portraits of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth.
“I think 99 percent were made with tongue firmly in cheek,” Watts said. He also snidely clarified that before the Vice article made its debut, he had received exactly zero calls for Queen Elizabeth portraits. Those were the days.
But of course, Watts was not the only member of Parliament to be hounded by inquiries for Queen Lizzie portraits. A Centre Alliance MP, Rebekha Sharkie, tweeted that she received 25 requests for portraits within 12 hours.
A clearly bitter Watts used the newsworthy opportunity to gift the amused Aussie citizens with “a bit nationhood material of my own,” he cryptically said. To clarify, Watts isn’t too fond of being under British monarchical rule.
Willy and Hobby
While MP Watts followed the law, he sneaked some materials into the envelopes containing the requested Queen Elizabeth portraits; these included pro-republic documents, portraits of former Labor prime minister Julia Gillard alongside Australian rules footballer Robert Murphy, and invites to a provincial barbecue.
Though Watts was a tad bit sour over the whole Vice ordeal, he obviously had fun with it, and he’s not the only one! The flabbergasted MPs’ reactions to the odd portrait requests only added to the viral sensation of the article, and the 1990 code itself.
Australian legislator and lawyer Terri Butler also thought the bounty of portrait requests were a hoot and a half, having taken her hilarity to Twitter. All in good fun, Butler admitted she almost replaced them with portraits of a different familiar face…
Butler joked that she had to be “talked out of providing a photo of Beyoncé” in lieu of portraits of Her Majesty in the envelopes. Hey, she is Queen Bey! Not everyone thought the ordeal was that funny, however.
Tim Wilson, who belongs to the conservative Liberal party, spit back at a Twitter user, Australian news writer Matt Bevan, who raided Wilson’s notifications. Bevan jokingly questioned if his “free” portrait of Queen Lizzie would come with a frame.
A peeved Wilson couldn’t help but respond, having tweeted “it isn’t free, someone’s taxes paid for it.” Matt Bevan, who presumably didn’t expect an answer, replied “One could argue that MY taxes paid for it.”
Thankfully, the little internet spat soon fizzled out, as well as the overwhelming buzz surrounding the matter. Though this whole episode regarding the 1990 “constituents’ request program” was annoying to the MPs, Watts says the law did originate with “some merit.”
Tweed Daily News
“Usually people request flags when they’re representing Australia overseas for sport or school or community groups,” Tim Watts told Australia’s ABC News in an honest attempt to defend the now parodied law.
“Very frequently I give out indigenous and Torres Strait Island flags, and I think that is a worthwhile thing to do for our community,” Watts continued. He does this to help represent and recognize Australia’s Aboriginal community.
Watts put effort into advocating for the 1990 code, even if it meant poking fun at Queen Lizzie in the process. Well, this goes to show that it’s important to stay informed on our country’s laws; we may be entitled to more than previously thought.
See, this law, which weirdly involves an Aussie’s right to claim a free staged photo of Queen Elizabeth II, may not be the weirdest on the books. The offbeat rules that Her Majesty herself is required to follow are far stranger.
The Cheat Sheet
1. No voting: This may not be an actual written law, but members of royal family will not vote in United Kingdom government elections. It’s their duty to keep family life and political life completely separate.
2. Secret handshake: It may not necessarily be a secret handshake, but the royal family is taught a very specific way to shake hands. They’re supposed to grasp the hand of the person they’re meeting, lock eyes with them, and give one or two firm pumps.
3. Teacup etiquette: Teatime is a big deal in England, especially with the royals. When grasping the cup, it must be held with the thumb and index finger looped through the handle, and the middle finger is used to support the handle underneath the loop.
4. Mealtime etiquette: When you are invited to eat a meal in the same hall as the Queen, you’re expected to put your fork down once the Queen has finished her meal. Eating after a monarch is considered exceptionally rude.
5. Monopoly is a no-go: In 2008, Prince Andrew was given the board game as a gift, but he had to decline the offering. Apparently, the famous game is not allowed to be played among the royal family because it gets too intense.
6. Mourning wear: Royal family members are always instructed to pack a set of all-black clothing when they travel. If someone important passes away while they’re gone, they can return wearing the proper attire to pay their respects.
7. No shared plane rides: Although taken with a grain of salt, there is a rule that states no two heirs can ride in the same plane at the same time in case of a fatal crash. However, William and Kate tend to fly with their children frequently.
8. The Queen must approve all marriage proposals: This law was formed way back in 1772. The Royal Marriages Act states any member of the royal family looking to get married must seek permission from the current monarch before proceeding.
9. Bridal bouquets must contain myrtle: Myrtle is a delicate white flower from Germany, and every bridal bouquet must contain it. This custom began when Prince Albert gave Queen Victoria a sprig of the flowers in the 19th century.
10. Royal formalities must be taken: Once married, royal couples must embrace the new titles handed to them. Will and Kate quickly became the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, just as Charles and Diana became the Prince and Princess of Wales before them.
11. Keep public interaction hands-free: The royal family is supposed to keep their hands to themselves when meeting the public. They’re not supposed to interact with commoners, technically, but William and Kate do make exceptions to this rule; they’re often seen embracing fans in pictures.
12. Wear fancy hats: At every formal event they’re invited to, female members of the royal family are required to sport a fancy hat. The custom milliners in London certainly make a killing every time a royal event occurs!
13. Evening tiaras are required: If the women of the royal family are invited to an event that takes place in the evening (after 6 p.m.), ladies must switch from fancy hats to their diamond encrusted tiaras. Not a bad switch when you think about it.
14. Shellfish is not supposed to be on the royal menu: Ancient tradition states that members of the royal family are to abstain from any shellfish so they avoid a potentially fatal food poisoning ordeal. Although the Queen still adheres to this rule, many other family members do not.
15. No garlic, either: According to reports from inside Buckingham Palace, the Queen absolutely detests garlic, and she refuses even one clove be allowed on royal grounds. At least no one ever suffers from garlic breath!
16. Maintain high fashion: Royal women must dress fashionably, and they need to keep abreast of the latest trends. There is only one rule all the ladies must abide by: absolutely no cleavage can be shown when they attend events.
17. Uphold formalities inside the palace’s walls: Even though newspapers and tabloids often refer to the royal family by informal names, like Will and Kate, all members are expected to address each other by full names only, including title.
18. Do not turn your back to the Queen: When conversing with the Queen, it is up to her to decide when the conversation is over. Even if the chatter has come to a lull, never turn away as though the conversation is over; wait for the Queen to do so.
19. Accept all gifts: People everywhere want to give gifts to the royal family, and when they do, the members must show gratitude and accept them. Well, maybe all of them except Monopoly. Too much trouble there.
20. The Queen can only sit on her own throne: This rule extends back to ancient times, when one wrong seat on a throne could start a war. The Queen even refused to sit in the Iron Throne when she visited the set of Game of Thrones.