Over two billion[i] people are expected to have watched the televised Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations marking the Queen’s 60 year reign, and with the Queen’s birthday weekend quickly approaching in most states, we are honouring the occasion by making 236 million UK records free to access for the whole weekend, starting 12.01AM on Friday 8 June until 11.59PM AEST on Monday 11 June, 2012.
While geographically Australia and England are thousands of kilometres apart, as part of the Commonwealth and with over a third of Australians claiming British ancestry[iii], the ties of the Empire remain strong.
We recent carried out a survey of Australians’ attitudes towards England and the Royal Family which included more than 1000 Aussies[iv] and found that Australia appears to be evenly divided when it comes to whether the country should remain a constitutional monarchy. Just over half (52%) want to stay under Britannia’s rule and 48% wish to become a Republic. Not surprisingly, the residents of the Australian Capital Territory were the strongest supporters of becoming a republic with 63% wanting to move on from the monarchy.
Prince William is the clear favourite to ascend to the throne with 81% preferring him over Prince Charles. Tasmania (90%) and South Australia (89%) are Wills’ biggest supporters, while Charles’ main cheerleaders are in the ACT (25% followed by Victoria (21%).
For British descendants in Australia, family history looks to run deep. Over 75% of Australians surveyed who claimed British ancestry were able to trace their history back at least 100 years. Many families immigrated to Australia with the promise of a better life and cheap passage, with 18% indicating they or their family moved to Australia as part of the ‘ten pound pom’ scheme following the Second World War. The incentive program was designed to substantially increase the population of Australia and to supply workers for the country’s booming industries and attracted over one million migrants.[v]
Additional highlights from the national survey include:
– Senior jubilee: Almost 40% of Australians surveyed planned on watching or celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. For those over 65 years of age, the number jumped to almost 60 %.
– Party time: Of the respondents who are planning on celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, most (94%) intended to watch the event on television, 5% planned on celebrating in ‘traditional British fashion’ by drinking warm beer and eating fish and chips, and 3% proposed to mark the event by having high tea.
– Doggone it: Over 60% of Australians strongly associate Corgis (dog breed) or the Union Jack with the Queen and England.
Brad Argent, Ancestry.com.au Content Director for Australia and New Zealand, comments: “The 236 million records from the UK freely accessible this weekend represent an unprecedented opportunity to find out just how British you really are.
It’s an excellent starting point for new family historians to learn about their past and should provide a wealth of information for more experienced researchers to build on their discoveries.”
To access the free collections, please visit www.ancestry.com.au.
[iii] 2006 Australian Census, Australian Bureau of Statistics
[iv] ‘The Australians’ attitudes towards England and the Royal Family’ survey was commissioned by Ancestry.com.au in May 2012 and was conducted by Pure Profile, who polled a nationally representative sample of 1002 people across Australia aged 18 and over
[v] Ten Pound Poms. The University of Sussex at Brighton. Retrieved 16 March 2006