The national convenor of Australia's largest pro-monarchy organisation has been left red-faced after falling for The Guardian's April Fools' Day joke.
The Guardian has been a prominent advocate for debate about the future of Britain's monarchical system, having launched legal challenges in 2000 against the Act of Settlement and the Treason Felony Act.
But the paper declared in an editorial on Friday that the impending wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton had forced it to abandon its republican allegiances and instead pledge its "full-throated support" to the monarchy.
In an article posted on the Australians for Constitutional Monarchy website today, Professor David Flint triumphantly declared that The Guardian's apparent embrace of the monarchy on 1 April was a "knockout blow" for republicans in Australia. He appeared to be oblivious to the satirical nature of The Guardian's change of heart, going so far as to reject the notion that it could have been a hoax.
"Some republicans hoped this declaration by The Guardian was just an April Fool’s day joke, but there is no evidence of that," he stated.
[See update: David Flint's article has now been removed from the ACM website.]
In claiming that there was "no evidence" of the about-face being a ruse, Flint appeared to overlook the second half of the editorial. The piece told of how "the sight of Kate Middleton's sure-to-be-spectacular wedding dress" would improve public sector morale, and praised the embattled Prince Andrew for "plant[ing] the seeds of democracy in repressive regimes worldwide".
It also claimed that Guardian foreign correspondents would be recalled from "less newsworthy parts of the globe, such as north Africa and south-east Asia" in order to cover the wedding.
The article concluded by paying tribute to the philosophical contributions made by Edmund Burke, seen as one of the founders of modern conservatism, and more absurdly still, Andrew Morton: a Fleet Street journalist best known for writing a string of celebrity biographies.
The Guardian's accompanying live blog made even less of an effort to conceal the joke.
"Reuters is reporting on rumours from Westminster of an initiative to amalgamate the Royal Wedding with that of Labour leader Ed Miliband and his longtime partner Justine Thornton," the blog proclaimed at 7:39am.
The blog concluded shortly before noon with a post informing readers that an army regiment was storming The Guardian's offices.
UPDATE, 8:00PM | The article has now been removed from the Australians for Constitutional Monarchy website. The full text can be viewed here. David Flint has not responded to The Spy Report's request for comment.
Media Spy discussion: April Fools' Day