While Australia is a long way away from England, thanks to them being a member of the Commonwealth, they have close ties with the country. And, as has been recently rediscovered, being an Australian citizen entitles you to collect — free of charge — a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. Apparently, all you have to do to claim your prize is ask your local MP for it.
But how is this so? And does it cover all members of the Commonwealth, not just Australians?
According to the Daily Mail, only verified Australians citizens can claim this prize. Which means most other countries have to pay for their royal portraits of the Queen. Even in the UK, royalists have to purchase their portraits of the Queen. However, Canadians are able to download a free image of the Queen if they want one. New Zealand is also thinking of adopting this idea for their royal fans.
However, if you live in Australia, thanks to the “Constituents’ Request Program,” you are eligible to collect your portrait — free of charge — of Queen Elizabeth. But that’s not all. According to the Daily Mail, this program “entitles Australian voters to receive nationalistic memorabilia including flags, the National Anthem and portraits of the Royal Family.”
So, how does one obtain their royal memorabilia?
All you have to do is email your local MP representative and request your items. Vice tested this out recently and, while the local office was out of stock at the time of the request, they received their items — a portrait and some complimentary Australian flags — three weeks later.
While this seems like a great idea for royalists to get free royal merchandise, the cost of supplying the entire voting population of Australia is something that should be considered. After all, this initiative appears to be subsidized by the Australian government and not the royal family. So, in essence, Australian tax dollars are likely paying for this.
In Australia, there is a population of 24.13 million people. Of those, 15.7 million are eligible to vote according to the Sydney Morning Herald. It is unclear how much the portraits of the Queen costs but, along with shipping fees, this initiative has the potential to rack up millions of dollars.
As the Daily Mail points out, this initiative has been questioned in the past, especially when a referendum was considered in relation to Australia breaking away from the Commonwealth and becoming a Republic.
In 2012, Bob Brown, a former leader of the Greens Party, suggested the money could be better allocated to serve Australian citizens. However, the initiative has never been officially closed down, meaning, Australian royalists are likely now sending off emails to their local representatives.