Royal Tea

A few days ago I tweeted that I was going write a shockingly controversial post. This is not that post. That post is still under development.  But let’s plunge on to a longwinded journey of discovery anyway…

Consider the Australian system of Government.

First sidebar:

The Head of State of The Commonwealth of Australia is Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of Australia. Isn’t that the name of the queen of Great Britain, you say? Well yes, it’s the same person. Queen of Australia is a separate title that is handed down in the same line (of course, there was never a Queen Elizabeth I of Australia, for obvious reasons). So our next head of state is likely to be the current Prince of Wales (Charles), followed by the current Duke of Cambridge (William).

So, for over 100 years, there’s been an organised Republican Movement in Australia. “Throw off the British Imperial Apron Strings” they shout, particularly after a skinful.

Sidebar Two:

I’d categorise these as three main groups. There’s the people of vaguely Irish descent, and there’s many of them, given the whole convict thing. They have no reason to appreciate the Monarchy. There’s vaguely Trade Union types, who on principle, can’t stand the “Upper Classes”. And there are academics, loonies, racists and bigots, nationalists and rugby union fans, or some combination of all of those.

I myself have been a Monarchist for my entire life. Why? Am I not a proud Australian? I am indeed. So why?

Well here’s my reason – the Monarchy is a useless institution with no power. That’s perfect. NO ability to interfere. Much better than electing someone who might try to help.

OK, their representative, the Governor-General, did once intervene to sack the Prime Minister, but the PM was an intensely charismatic dunderhead, metaphorically fiddling whilst Australia as a metaphoric Rome was metaphorically burning. So Gough Whitlam got the chop and a whole new bunch of outraged republicans was born, though the following election confirmed the decision emphatically.

So, it surprised me when at 7am last Friday I became an Australian Republican. (My US friends should note that this does not automatically make me believe that Mr Obama was born on Easter Island, is part Martian and wants to take away your guns to fashion them into splints to mend the broken legs of the homeless, who’ve probably been breaking their own legs just to get sympathy anyway.)

Sidebar Three

My reason, by the way, is the ban on The Chaser being able to comment on the Royal Wedding. I think every Australia who ever felt that Pravda was not a credible source of real news should wilt with the shame at the way our national broadcaster buckled to the bullying tactics of the Royal Family.

And it’s funny, because all I’ve heard this week, with the royal family in the news, is tea. Tea and Scones. High Tea. Mugs with Union Jacks, ghastly tea bag tags dangling over the side like a perfidious paper pictograph of Poe’s pendulum.

It got me thinking about the two ends of tea.

Why is it that tea is the drink of the poor; the masses; the underclasses; those for who tea is a small pleasure in a sea of pain? The most popular blend in the western world is English Breakfast tea, the tea for everyone.

And also the drink of the elite, the super rich, the Royals. Lady Gaga, even! Named after royalty, such as Earl Grey. I’ve even got two blends myself called Persian Princess and Lord Petersham.

But strangely, nothing in the middle. Perhaps that’s why tea remains at odds in the US, where the vast majority see themslves as “middle class”.

Anyway, after two pages and countless diversions, that the question I wish to pose: Why is tea drinking so polarised?

Why, indeed.

7 thoughts on “Royal Tea

  1. Hi,

    Please feel free to delete this once read. You have a typo at ‘the Monarchy is a useless intuition with no power.’



  2. Middle class? You can find such things as Monk tea, Traveller Tea, Chandannagar…

    I always thought that tea had more to do with exotic things than with upper vs lower classes.

  3. I don’t know how it is in Aussie land Robert but I’ve never thought of tea “undrunk” by the middle classes. In England all classes drink tea, it pours itself through all layers of the population. In the US tea is definitely not a drink of the poorer people as opposed to the middle income people. So, no worries mate about the middle class and their tea over here. At least no more worrying than for any other “class.”

    However, I’d be interested in knowing if your thoughts do indeed apply to Australia?


    1. What I was trying to say is that the perception is that tea drinking occurs at these two ends. Look through literature, newspapers, film and TV and the only tea drinkers portrayed are dirt poor or stinking rich.

      1. True and don’t forget to add that only the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth drink tea at 5 o’ clock.

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