Monday, 24 October 2011

Curtsy controversy or hatless brouhaha?

Photo: Alex Coppel
Try as one might, it is hard to ignore the royal visit in progress here in Australia. Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip flew into Canberra last Wednesday night, to be greeted by our Prime Minister, Julia Gillard and our Governor-General, Quentin Bryce. The sight of this triumvirate of our nation’s government –for the first time in our history entirely feminine in form – was one to warm the cockles of any feminist’s heart. The picture was not to everyone’s liking, however. The hatless Prime Minister Gillard managed to raise the ire of several unnamed monarchists (and the odd morning TV host and radio shock jock) who interpreted her bare head as a sign of disrespect to her head of state. The controversy was soon overtaken by the perceived bigger shame of her (perfectly in line with stated protocol) choice of a nod and a handshake over a curtsy.

And what did this trio of women of power wear for the memorable moment? The G-G wore a ladylike skirt suit with a peplum jacket and a hat covered in fabric rosettes; all in vibrant Barbie pink. Her Majesty wore a pale aqua coat-and-dress ensemble with matching hat adorned tastefully with feather and flowers. The PM retained her individual preference for a bold, statement jacket - this time in broad horizontal stripes of navy and black- teamed with a conservative black skirt. Was it telling that the Age described the three as “a symphony in pink”, wearing “quieter aqua” and in a “sensible navy suit” respectively? Or is just me that reads a tone of disapproval for Ms Gillard’s outfit in that comparison?


  1. Yeah...see what you mean. No matter what your opinion of what Julia's wearing, that isn't what I picture if someone says "a sensible navy suit". That is a bit of a put down.

  2. The things the press occupy themselves with hey?
    Wasn't there some sort of earthquake in Turkey that's killed 1000 or so fellow human beings, think I read something about that recently...

  3. I'm no fashion expert but our PM does look a little colourless in the company of HM and the GG. But then there are those who would say that Julia is rather colourless. As for her bare head, again, she is the odd one out.

    Meanwhile he whole curtsy thing was a non-controversy - just a media beat-up - given that protocol allows for a handshake.