Her Majesty the Queen has taken very calmly news of the High Court of Australia’s ruling that will see the release of letters sent to her in the 1970s by then Governor-General of Australia, Sir John Kerr.
Indeed, my royal sources tell me that the Queen is in fact very keen to see the correspondence made public.
Her Majesty has lately given a hint to her senior staff of the content of the letters and I can reveal that they contain no “ticking timebomb” and no “smoking gun” related to Sir John’s dismissal of Gough Whitlam’s government in November 1975.
One royal source said Her Majesty has hinted at the fact that people will be “very surprised” when the correspondence — 211 letters sent by Sir John to Her Majesty during his time in office from July 1974 to December 1977 — is finally released.
“Her Majesty believes the fact the letters have been locked away out of public reach by the National Archives of Australia has only added to their mystery and made people believe there is something untoward or controversial in them,” one royal source advised me.
“In reality, as she has explained to her most senior staff, the Kerr letters are quite benign — boring even. In fact the Queen herself has told close advisers that she viewed Sir John as a bit of a pest when it came to his correspondence.
“Look at the numbers yourself. The 211 letters mean Sir John was writing to Her Majesty on average five letters a month. I mean what on earth could he find to tell her in such a deluge of correspondence?
“Her Majesty has herself dropped a few hints at meetings where this subject came up with comments such as: ‘I really didn’t need Sir John to tell me how wonderful colour television was when it finally came to Australia in March 1975 or that British Leyland was stopping production of the P76, whatever that is.’
“She also said recently: ‘In 1976 Sir John wrote to tell me that the Kraft cheese company had launched Kraft Singles onto the Australian market — individually wrapped slices of cheese. He sent me a sample which was quite off by the time it arrived.’
“And another hint about the subjects canvassed in the Kerr correspondence was dropped by Her Majesty recently when she said: ‘I’d never heard of Lindeman’s Ben Ean moselle until Sir John wrote to me and sent a case of it for me to try. Apparently it was big in Australia in the 70s. Sir John told me he enjoyed a few glasses of it at breakfast.’
“You can see why Her Majesty is not worried about the release of the letters. As she herself has said: ‘I’d like the world, and certainly Australians, to know the sort of shit I have had to put up with since taking the throne more than 60 years ago.’
“So she is very comfortable about the correspondence being made public and has explained that her previous decision agreeing to an embargo on their publication was designed entirely to protect the reputation of Sir John.
“But I think she came to realise many years ago that that that’s never really been an issue,” the palace source said.