While Australia goes into media overdrive for Harry and pregnant Meghan’s visit, some ordinary locals are not rushing to join in with Meghan-mania.
Almost all major Australian newspapers have the couple on their front pages for both days of their visit, along with triumphant congratulations for their baby news.
At first glance, the hysteria may suggest that Australia’s strong republican movement is losing traction as this younger, ‘more relevant’ crop of royals take centre stage.
The reality, however, is much more nuanced. Prominent republicans in Australia have welcomed Harry and Meghan and do not see the apparent outpouring of support as a threat – and opinion is mixed among average Australians on the street.
The Australian media has gone in to overdrive with a fresh wave of royal fever as Harry and Meghan (pictured) start their tour
Pictured is the banana bread Meghan made for the lunch that the couple shared with local farmers from NSW
Speaking to Guardian Australia in Dubbo one local motel operator called the influx of visitors to the regional town the ‘Markle debacle,’ while others in the 30,000 strong crowd said the event was just a chance to catch up with old friends.
‘It’s just the mob getting together,’ said one attendee who admitted to not being fussed about the Royal arrival.
‘It’s a break for us. It’s good to have a day where you go into town and catch up with people,’ said another local.
While the people of drought-stricken Dubbo took the well-deserved opportunity to relax with friends, the Australia media went into overdrive.
‘Megmania,’ ‘A New Royal Wave,’ ‘Royal baby joy,’ were just some of the headlines rolled out for the Royals on their second day of tour. Over social media Australians questioned if the newlyweds were receiving too much attention.
‘If only there was as much news coverage about all the women slaughtered in their homes in the last month as there is about Meghan’s jeans,’ one woman wrote.
‘I find it hard to be supportive of a royal visit to drought affected areas of Australian when the tax payer of their trip could make a tangible difference to the lives of so many people.’
‘Why should Australia pay for royals to visit. Too much hype. They cost the British government millions. And they are extremely wealthy,’ said another.
While many Australians were gripped by a new wave of royal mania, for most of the year the countries citizens are largely apathetic towards the royal family.
Global company Ipsos polled 27 countries to gauge royal interest during the wedding and found that only 30 per cent of Australians were interested in watching the young royals tie the knot.
Overall support for the monarchy is at an all-time low, with only 22% of Australians supporting the current system and 52% saying they would prefer a republic.
The front cover of Australian papers the Sydney Morning Herald (left) and The Australian (right)
The front cover of Australian papers The Daily Telegraph (left) and The Herald Sun (right)
Dhanya Mani, of the Australian republican movement says that part of the dip in polls is that Australians aren’t buying the progressive image of the younger royals.
‘People like to wax lyrical about how Kate, William, Meghan and Harry are young, and therefore ‘progressive’. These people do not live ‘progressive’ lifestyles,’ she said to SBS The Feed.
‘Meghan Markle had to quit acting. She is not permitted to have her own, independent career. She had to shut down her social media accounts and her lifestyle website The Tig.’
Ms Mani argues that not only is this the antithesis of progressive but that the countries future heads of state had limited understanding of Australian culture.
Dhanya Mani, of the Australian republican movement says that not everyone is buying the couples ‘progressive’ image
The couple visited drought-stricken Dubbo in regional NSW on day two of the tour (pictured)
‘Aside from maybe a couple of terms at one of Australia’s most exclusive private schools, our future heads of state have scant exposure to our culture, our rich multicultural story, or our traditions.’
While the royals may not be charming everyone, the republican movement is also dogged by the same issue – apathy.
A failed 1999 referendum put the issue on the back burner and republican supporting Prime Ministers have since been hesitant to peruse it.
The official movement has been largely silent about the royal couple visiting down under.
While shock jocks and talk show hosts chattered about the baby bump and banana cake, crowds have lined the streets everywhere the Sussex’s have visited.
For many, though not all, the couple are welcome guests.