Eagerly awaiting next week's dinner at the Windsor are (from left) Eamonn Kelly, Helen Walford, Jason Ronald, Julie Sattler, Peter Hammond, and Patricia McKendrick. Photo: Rebecca Hallas
ON MONDAY it will be 60 years since Queen Elizabeth II acceded to the throne, but do Australians care?
Republicans and academics say we have lost much of the reverence we felt when Her Majesty visited Melbourne during her silver jubilee in 1977. That March, crowds trailed her to Royal Park, the zoo, the MCG, and on a walk through city streets.
But John Warhurst, deputy chairman of the Australian Republican Movement, says that in 2012 we do not have the same ardour for a jubilee. ''I don't think Australians care,'' he said. ''I think they care less and less as years go by. There's increasing republicanism, the world has changed so much, and the royal family and the Queen play such a lesser role in Australian life than they did when the Queen came on to the throne.''
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The Age, June 1953 record the big day at Westminster Abbey.
Dr Michelle Smith, a Melbourne University post-doctoral researcher of colonial Australia and the British Empire, said we had slowly moved away from the idea of being part of an empire and of owing allegiance, partly due to multiculturalism.
The City of Melbourne, the state government and Governor have no official plans to mark Monday's diamond jubilee. But true believers are holding several private do's. Bryan Stertern-Gill, chairman of the Monarchist League in Australia's Victorian chapter, will attend a friend's private dinner in Melbourne for 40 people. The league is planning a bigger function for the 60th anniversary of the Queen's coronation in June 2013.
Mr Stertern-Gill said a ''great many'' Australians cared about the jubilee. ''She's performed 60 years of sensational service,'' he said. ''I think she's a wonderful woman. She's dedicated her life to her job, and I have nothing but admiration for her as a person and the manner in which she's carried out her duties.''
An education worker and keen monarchist called Stephen will hold an afternoon tea at work on Monday.
Staff will bring a ''show and tell'' of royal memorabilia and he has ordered a cake inscribed with ''ER II, 60 years, Diamond Jubilee, 1952-2012''.
At the Hotel Windsor ballroom on Monday, 150 people, mostly from 12 local ''loyal societies'', and former governors-general Michael Jeffery and Peter Hollingworth will enjoy a $145-a-head, three course dinner. The societies include the Company of Armigers (coat of arms enthusiasts), the Australia-Britain Society and the English Speaking Union.
The dinner organiser, Royal Overseas League president Jason Ronald, a Tallarook farmer, says we should toast the Queen.
''It's hard to think of anyone else who's been in the same job for 60 years and carried it out so well and with such grace and dignity,'' he said.
''The system of government we have has served us very well, due in no small part to the person who is our monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, and I think people want to pay tribute to her.''