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Prince William wows the ex-colonials Down Under

This is what they were hoping for when the ill-fated marriage of Britain's Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer began — "they" being the members and employees of "The Firm," as the Royal Family refers to itself — handsome offspring rejuvenating and re-enthusing the world for the extraordinary anachronism that is the British Monarchy.

Prince William, who one day will be His Majesty William the Fifth, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas, King and Defender of the Faith, has over the last week been on a goodwill tour in a couple of those far away dominions: New Zealand and Australia. Press reports of his journey have made a wonderful counterpoint here to the grim photos from Haiti and the relentless chill and damp of Britain in mid-winter.

We've had photos of the sporting Prince tossing a rugby ball around in New Zealand and  padding up and going to the crease to show his form as a cricket batsman — very good form it is — in Australia. We've had TV news reports of the multi-cultural Prince being welcomed by the traditional Maori Haka in NZ and checking out Aborigine art in OZ. There is no doubt, looking at the photos, that the gene pool worked out the way the royal matchmakers wanted it to when Diana became Princess: William is as handsome as his mother was beautiful and wears his inherited charisma as lightly as an old cardigan.

Underlying the pictures is something more serious. At least some of the justification for the British taxpayers' lavish dispensation to the Royal Family — over $12.8 million is what we pay them — is the vestigial connection of the monarch to the Old Dominions. The Queen is still Australia's "Head of State." In the recent past there has been a strong political movement in Australia to change that relationship and make Australia what the U.S. is — a republic. But Prince William's visit moved the leader of the Republican movement, Malcolm Turnbull to write in the Times: "He is a young, handsome and charming prince, not a stitched-up aristocrat of the old school ..."

So,  job well done, William. Make a happier marriage than your Pa and you will secure the throne into the next century.