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Dear Uncle Norm,

Last week’s swearing-in of our new Parliament degenerated into self-centred farce.

MPs are meant to take a solemn oath of allegiance to our sovereign. This was once administered on the Bible, which I accept is now not appropriate for all. However, the ODT reports that many of our parliamentary dearies swore on “pieces of writing that mattered to them”.

I presume they could have solemnly placed their right hand on Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and it would have been just fine and dandy?

There is also the matter of language. Te reo is now our second official language — good! — but no fewer than 44 of the 120 MPs chose this for their oath. How many were European New Zealanders using their oath for PC posturing?

Other MPs ignored both English and te reo, and used the languages of their foreign countries of origin. (One MP even appeared to accept the oath while at the same time denying it on Waitangi grounds.)

The swearing-in should be a solemn declaration of unified loyalty. It is now a random, rag-tag comedy of ego — and even men in cowboy hats. Thank you, Mr Woke Speaker Mallard.

Norah Elphinstone

You make a fair point. If these are the new rules, then I swear by Annabel Langbein’s recipe for Mexican Shrimp Cocktail ...

Dear Uncle Norm,

I don’t (in my dicky heart) want New Zealand to become a republic. Seeing a creature like Donald Trump let out of his cage and into a presidency shows that system’s failings.

But I’ve just spent a fortnight watching the pusillanimous Prince Charles in Series Four of The Crown. I don’t believe people will accept this “man” as our next monarch.

I understand The Crown is fiction but I believe its creator, Peter Morgan, when he says it reveals reality. I was prepared to accept the Prince’s oddities, like debating Homer with his geraniums, but not the petulance, entitlement, cruelty and selfish adultery we see in The Crown. He gave Princess Diana no chance.

Elizabeth was joyfully heralded to her throne. I imagine her son and his Queen Camilla will be greeted by a surly, sullen, silence. He’s a monarch we neither want nor need.

Once a Royalist

There was always a moral dodginess to The Crown’s “faction” portrayal of living Royalty.

Ordinary people could — and would — sue a Morgan, but practically, the Royal Family can’t. Morgan and Netflix have exploited this situation to make fortunes. And yes, compelling drama.

The Charles and Diana tragedy is recent history. Netflix says 73million sets are tuned to a character assassination the Prince is powerless to respond to. Unquestionably, it has further diminished him.

It can only be a short time until Charles ascends the Throne, and the Netflix series could mean his increased unpopularity loses him parts of the Commonwealth.

His Commonwealth situation has always been even more precarious than generally understood. Way back in 1981, when the pre-Diana Charles was young and immensely popular, the conservative government of Australian PM Malcolm Fraser toyed with installing him as governor-general. Who better than the Queen’s son and heir, to act as the Queen’s Representative? The scheme would help “blood” Charles as her successor and seemed a brilliant idea that couldn’t fail.

My Sydney market research firm put this apparent “no-brainer” to Australians. Surely a waste of time and money? But no, the research discovered that while Charles was much liked, Australians wouldn’t wear him in a Head of State position. The findings made the front pages, and the bright idea of Charles for GG silently vanished.

That research is now ancient. But it showed the fragility of Elizabeth’s succession in the late 20th century Commonwealth. If a popular prince was unacceptable as the Queen’s Representative, what chance of a deeply unpopular one (thank you Netflix for your help) taking the Throne and keeping the British diaspora intact?

Netflix’s dubious liberties may well play a part in destroying a system of Constitutional Monarchy that actually works well for New Zealand.

(Despite all this, Prince Harry Doogood, and the delightful Meghan Moneypenny, have accepted $US130million of Netflix silver for a TV series. Is there no shame?)

Dear Uncle Norm,

You must read the recently released biography of Sir Bob Charles by Geoffrey Saunders. We all know Sir Bob won the British Open in 1963, but what’s not so well appreciated is he was ranked No 5 in the world during the Palmer, Nicklaus, Player era. He was at the very centre of what is rightly considered golf’s Golden Age.

He tells an absolutely fascinating story, so it’s a better golfer’s Christmas present than a box of Callaways.

Bob Charles Fan

OK, OK, a blatant plug. But this is an important golf bio that is well overdue.

 - John Lapsley


Norah is the kind of whinger that dislikes 'Opoho' being pronounced correctly. New MPs don't use te Reo for 'PC' reasons. They have chosen New Zealand's indigenous language. Norah doesn't like choice, she wants hegemony. It behoves Norah and her ilk to realise the nation is pluralist, not binary.

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