Gillard criticized for shaking hands with the Queen

Sydney (dpa) – Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Thursday defended greeting Queen Elizabeth II with a handshake rather than a curtsy.
Monarchists criticised Australia’s first female prime minister for not bending the knee to the head of state of the former British colony.
“The advice to me was very clear: that you can make a choice with what you feel most comfortable with,” Gillard told reporters. “That’s what I felt most comfortable with. The queen extended her hand, and I shook her hand.”
The Welsh-born Gillard, an ardent republican, offended royalists last year by suggesting the death of the 85-year-old monarch would be an opportune time to break the last constitutional tie with Britain.
June Dally-Watkins, a writer and broadcaster on etiquette issues, said Gillard had failed to show appropriate respect.
“I saw the prime minister kind of wobble and I didn’t know. Did she try to curtsy? I didn’t know what she was doing. I just laughed,” Dally-Watkins told national broadcaster ABC.
The queen is at the start of a 10-day tour that will take her to Brisbane and Melbourne and then on to Perth to open a meeting of Commonwealth leaders. She did not seem to take offence.
With royalists again in the ascendancy – the latest opinion poll showed 55 per cent of Australians in favour of the monarchy against 34 per cent wanting a republic – the queen seems to have a spring in her step on her 16th visit.
Author: Sid Astbury