While Australia marked the late Queen’s life in a national day of mourning, anti-monarchy protesters — including a left-wing senator — turned out in Melbourne but inadvertently misdirected their rage with an attack against the long-defunct Portuguese monarchy.
Protests in Melbourne, Australia were in full swing Thursday and taking in a full spectrum of concerns, with placards and signs alluding to BLM, Aboriginal rights, anti-monarchy, imperialism, and police brutality, among others.
While protests were largely peaceful, there were some lively moments including attempts at burning the Australian flag, as seen in footage reported by ABC, and a national flag cut into ribbons and doused in fake blood.
While Queen Elizabeth II lived in the United Kingdom, she was also the Queen of Australia, among other countries, and the death of the long-standing head of state has been marked and mourned in Australia in a similar way to Britain. Yet for those on the left who wish to see Australia remade with a presidential system, the British can be a symbol of hatred, even if many of those protesting are of British descent.
Consequently, there was an attempt to attack the British consulate in Melbourne on Thursday, but things did not go to plan.
The British consulate building in Melbourne is relatively anonymous and is set back from a high-rent retail street, and had police officers stationed at its front door during Thursday’s protest. Unable to get inside, confused would-be revolutionaries inadvertently attacked a branch of premium jeweller Cartier’s, which happened to be next door.
Cartier typically decorates the outer walls of its stores around the world with the arms of the various Royal families it has provided jewellery for over the years, a marketing conceit continued today despite most of the monarchies involved no longer existing. Despite being clearly visually very different from the focus of their rage, the nearest coat of arms on the Melbourne store bore the full force of the protest, with the defunct monarchy of Portugal being smeared in fake blood.
While the difference between the British Royal Family and the Portuguese Royal Family, which went dormant in 1910 after a revolution, eluded the protesters, surprisingly it also went unnoticed by establishment news organisations including Getty, which misidentified the Royal arms in their own writing.
The fake blood protest may reflect badly on the quality of political discourse in Australia, given one of the fake blood attackers on Thursday was Deputy Leader of the Australian Senate Green Party, Lidia Thorpe. Photographed addressing the rally with blood-dipped hands and also smearing them over the white stone walls of the Cartier store.
In video published to social media of Senator Thorpe speaking, the Green Party politician said the Crown rules Australia through “colonial violence”, that the Crown — meaning Queen Elizabeth II formerly and Charles III now — has “blood on its hands”, and that it even has a boot on the neck of Australians.
This is not, by far, the first time Senator Thorpe has courted controversy for her views on Australia’s political system. Recently elected, she performed a black-power type closed-fist salute in the Australian Parliament when required to pledge allegiance, hitting headlines worldwide.