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The Search for the Palace Letters

The Search for the Palace Letters: Jenny Hocking v Fuckingham Palace

By guest columnist Tess Lawrence

Warrior Australian historian and colonial upstart Jenny Hocking notoriously took on Queen Elizabeth 11, Fuckingham Palace, Australia’s anal-retentive fortress of ‘forbidden history’, the National Archives, the Attorney-General and the Office of the Governor General – and won!

For years the diminutive, pixie faced Hocking and her formidable team of lawyers stormed the continuum of legal barricades put up by this obsequious group of forelock-tugging monarchical subjugates, dismantling spurious legal argument that basically strove to deny fellow Australians the truth about the role of the/our British monarch and her man in Oz, Governor General Sir John Kerr in the 1975 dismissal of the Whitlam Government.

The ruptures caused by ‘The Dismissal‘ still loom large upon the nation’s political and societal psyche.

The legal stoush was one thing. The years leading up to the Courts quite another. All up a decade or more, and even to this day, Hocking is fighting facile restrictions on her access to our national archives.

What is going on?

The NAA is behaving more like Lubyanka than the guardian of our past and thus a guide to our future. It is our library. It doesn’t belong to our Monarch, and it certainly doesn’t belong to censorial bureaucrats.

The archives belong to us. Our history belongs to us. Shameful or otherwise.



You would think that our Attorneys General and the National Archives of Australia would both be in Hocking’s and thus our corner, leading the charge to champion the release of correspondence between the late Queen and her hapless self aggrandising and needy lapdog, Sir John. It’s embarrassing to even reflect upon the entire scenario.

The Search for the Palace Letters and The Search for Jenny Hocking

At 8pm tomorrow night in a world premiere, ABC television will broadcast the much-awaited film ‘The Search for the Palace Letters‘ based on Hocking’s own non-fictional historical thriller, The Palace Letters.

The documentary might well have been sub-titled ‘The Search for Jenny Hocking’.

Despite Hocking’s prolific writings and public appearances, like her opponents in the courtroom and public fora, we do not have her measure. She is a natural and generous teacher and communicator and her passion for history is matched by her determination to share it. In her writings she has that precious ability to combine academic prowess with literary flourish. In a gumnut shell, she is a compelling storyteller, who breathes life into history. Question and answer sessions are an audience favourite because she has a well-earned reputation for calling it as she sees it, invariably drenching her answers with her wry wit and sense of humour. I know, because I’ve seen her in action.

Last year, whilst appearing on the wonderful podcast series, The Scandal Mongers, Hocking caused spluttering and outrage in the British and international media when she called for our King to apologise for his personal interference (when he was Prince) and support for Sir John Kerr’s role in the Whitlam government’s dismissal.

The Scandal Mongers is presented by the dynamic duo of Andrew Lownie and Phil Craig. You can read about it in full in this article The AIM Network published in March.

Lownie himself has been fighting his own battles in the UK that in many aspects mirror Hocking’s experiences here. He wrote an exclusive article for The AIMN last year on his own struggles with the Palace and the British Government.


Below: Hocking’s appearance on The Scandal Mongers remains a popular episode. Lifelong cobbers Andrew Lownie and Phil Craig are wonderfully jovial, irreverent intellects and co-hosts. They are two sharp dudes.


The Search for the Palace Letters will give us greater access to Hocking’s personality and what drives her. It’s fascinating that her life and professional partner, Daryl Dellora is the director and again, has teamed up with producer Sue Maslin. Both are festooned with awards and accolades under the Film Art Doco banner.

Of course, this brings an inevitable professional voyeurism and curiosity as to how Dellora treats his subject, with whom he is intimately involved. Then again, as a family, the Hockings underwent so much to take on The Firm and The Establishment. And the third eye of the camera will reveal secrets and provide insight.

Such battles are not always won in the courtroom, but rather around the kitchen table, in the dead of night, in bed. Endless hours of research, fact checking, cross checking, briefings, emails, phone conversations. It’s daunting. At times, frightening. You have to nurture morale. Try not to be dissuaded by the negativity and indifference of others. It’s sometimes scary. One inevitably bites off more than one can chew.

Hocking also whistleblower – exposing corruption within collusive system

Let us not forget Jenny Hocking is also a whistleblower.

Make no mistake, the dismal affair in my book, that led up to The Dismissal constituted corruption and arguably, corruption of constitutional propriety, insofar as royal and direct interference in our political affairs and government leadership are concerned.

These arduous campaigns for justice are all pervasive, as well I know. Subtext and back stories form arterial alleyways to the brain. One has to stay alert. Legal opponents throw everything at you. Vigilance and strategy become endemic bedfellows. You sleep almost with your eyes open. It is not an obsession. It is not even a compulsion. It is a requirement, part of the job, in order to try to stay one step ahead.


Hocking on the set of The Search for the Palace Letters. Photo by Hilary Wardaugh.


Whistleblower often one person against many

Onlookers sometimes forget that invariably the whistleblower is simply one person fighting a phalanx of opponents to expose injustice for the greater good.

And so often when all is finally revealed and the calumny exposed, we learn that many others knew of the wrong doings. That in itself can be dispiriting, disheartening.

Why did Jenny Hocking’s opponents spend millions of taxpayers’ monies to try and block access to the Queen/Kerr letters? Because they knew what was in the files. They knew that the Queen and Kerr would be exposed as the main key and culpable players in an end game that ultimately was to bring down the Whitlam Government.

It’s all there in the Palace Letters. And to read the bilge written by those who wrote that the palace letters didn’t reveal any such thing, is simply another attempt at fake news and revisionism of history, indeed journalism itself and is an indictment of a lack of knowledge and understanding of the machinations of the Queen, Fuckingham Palace and ‘The Firm’.

Impediment to accessing our own history comes from enemies within

Besides, since the High Court decided in Hocking’s favour and blowout after the publishing of The Palace Letters, container loads of evidence of Palace interference in political affairs have been published, as recently as this week and this day, as the Epstein files attest.

The impediments to accessing our own history comes not so much from ‘foreign’ entities but rather from the enemies within. And they are legion.

The next time someone tells you, one person can’t make a difference, you might consider citing Jenny Hocking as someone who did. As someone who does.

The Search for the Palace Letters. ABC TV, Monday, January 8.24. 8pm AEDT


Tess Lawrence is Contributing editor-at-large for Independent Australia and her most recent article is The night Porter and allegation of rape.




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  1. uncletimrob

    My Mum always said “they are nothing special, they eat, sleep and go to the toilet just like the rest of us”.

    As for the disgrace of the dismissal, I’m sure there are many like me for whom this shameful episode cemented their opinion of the royals and their place in daily life and the future of Australia.

    Good riddance to the lot of them and bring on a republic – just don’t let it be one anything like the complete farce of US politics.

  2. Roswell

    If and when we do become a republic, I’ll be shouting “Jenny for President”.

  3. Ken Robinson

    Well done again Tess, this appeals to me as a REPUBLIC supporter ( please note I do not use the term Republican because of the termoil going on in the AMERICAS) and a REBEL against our current political system which serves us poorly and is based on ineptness and corruption on a large scale and its going to take a concerted effort to change it, hopefully without the bloodshedding as is going on around the world at the moment.

  4. tess lawrence

    Everwise Dearest Ken. and I look forward to any comment you have to make after you watch the doco – also it is on iview. I just don’t understand why the ABC hasn’t publicized this.It’s so good to see docos about us. I’m still in shock about the wasted millions of dollars spent by the National Archives, admittedly under the leadership of someone who is no longer there. It’s outrageous that the government of the day signed off on it and frankly, there should be an investigation into this debacle.

  5. Canguro

    Never underestimate the determination of the so-called ‘elite’ to subvert transparency and openness in the context of public affairs; it’s of course unsurprising that the self-determined protectors of the ‘system of proper governance’ conspired to overthrow the Whitlam government… Gough was a step too far in their books and had to be castrated, he was way too radical and forward thinking whatever his missteps may have been.

    I can imagine the old guard frothing over their whiskys & soda in their men’s only clubs, tut-tutting about the outrageousness of this upstart barrister with his revolutionary ideas for dragging Australia into the 20th century and doing away with the decades-old moribund ideals that wedded this country to the Old Dart and Lizzy the Second.

    A pox on all of them, from the palace down to the dipsomaniacal Kerr along with the ever-present spooks for hire of the CIA.

  6. New England Cocky

    Tess, I sense that this passage suggests that you have been reading Grumpy Geezer or Phil Pryor again for style.

    ”For years the diminutive, pixie faced Hocking and her formidable team of lawyers stormed the continuum of legal barricades put up by this obsequious group of forelock-tugging monarchical subjugates, dismantling spurious legal argument that basically strove to deny fellow Australians the truth about the role of the/our British monarch and her man in Oz, Governor General Sir John Kerr in the 1975 dismissal of the Whitlam Government.”

    The sooner Australia has an Australian borne Head of State and is freed from the apron-strings of the most dysfunctional family in Europe the better off Australian voters will be. Why even the so-called ”family name” was a construction in 1916 to appease Pommies who complained that ”it did not look right” for the English to have a King with his correct German title.

  7. tess lawrence

    Spot on Cocky, they are my role models! They teach me everything I know ! Re the name changing, there’s a whole volume set in that propaganda bizzo.

  8. Clakka

    Thanks Tess,

    Tonite’s schedule is now not aimless. What’s going on with the ABC? What, with the Spotlight repeat, now this, could there be hope?

    Proper unalloyed history remains so important, and Oz from its colonial beginnings has been bombarded by dupes. As I read your story, I was reminded of:

    1 The recent imbroglio of the Morrison / LNP gov’t attempted unlawful concealment of 78 cabinet papers from the craven Howard, Iraq decisions 20 years ago.
    2 Morrison’s strident attempts to defund and make impotent the NAA
    3 The massive and systematic blockade by the LNP of matters pertaining to East Timor (ongoing)
    4 The oration by Henry Reynolds regarding the systematic silence of pre-1970s historian’s and others pertaining to nearly all matters of First Nations folk in Oz


    All of the above brings home the corruption, brutality and arrogance of the British imperium and its flunkies and instruments, along with the network of thieving brutalist European royals and the perpetual pandemic of charlatan god-botherers.

    We have seen the shit-pile of ruses, alive and festering, compounded in the recent decimation of the Voice proposal. The Oz constitution is an irrelevant anachronism, as are so many others worldwide. Proper history promulgated is the only way the past filth can be revealed, and to awaken folk to the importance of severing the persistent tentacles of that malevolence. Our chosen alliances and political decisions can never be a free and properly informed choice until we have a contemporary base instrument from which to operate. Bring on the Republic (or whatever we want to call it).

  9. New Bruce

    Mum wil be spinning in her grave when this airs tonight.
    Although she absolutely hated the lying rodent, and all that he stood for, she she absolutely despised fraser, and at a single mention of him she would turn purple and spew venom at a volume one could hear from the moon.
    She always considered Gough to be one of our best, (she ignored his flaws),
    The occurrences of 1975 were just plain WRONG.
    This will be entertaining viewing.
    @NEC. What was wrong with Von Windsor? The poms whinge anbout anything…..

  10. tess lawrence

    G’day Dear Clakka, thank you so very much – and for the link to Henry Reynolds – another history hero.
    Your list is superb. We yet have so much to write about. Thank you for reminding us – and for your comment too.

  11. Michael Taylor

    Wow. Just watched the program on iView. What a terrier Jenny is.

    Thanks to her, history can now be written.

  12. tess lawrence

    G’day Dear Michael, yes, it was a real insight and gave us some understanding of what Hocking was up against – and the personal tenacity and integrity that is critical to finally overcoming serious legal setbacks and yet not give up until justice finally prevails.

  13. Terence Mills

    Good to see Gough in the doco and as he noted, the conventions of the Westminster system and responsible government, mean that the Governor General as the Monarch’s representative must maintain political neutrality, and can act only on the advice of the prime minister.

    I note that David Hurley the present GG took office in 2019 and would normally be due to leave after five years. So, hopefully he will be gone this year together with his ‘happy clapper’ wife. Those two worry me !

    Sing a song of sunshine – and beware

    What the Albanese government should foreshadow is a Constitutional Convention during their second term, aiming to redraft our ageing and largely obsolete constitution, incorporate a Bill of Rights, recognize the Aboriginal people as the first people of Australia and consign the British Crown and the GG to the garbage can of history.

    Will they have the fortitude for this after their drubbing on the Voice ?

  14. New England Cocky

    @ New Bruce: Before the 1916 re-financing of the English WWI war effort, the English Royal family name was correctly the German title ”Saxe-Coburg-Gotha”. Given the rising angst against anything German and Germany, George V & Queen Mary decided on advice to change the family name to the more English ”Windsor” on 170717.
    After young Queen Elizabeth II was installed in 1954(?), Lord Louis Mountbatten, (formerly the German family name ”Battenberg” changed for the same reasoning to ”Mountbatten”) was a much loved member of the Royal circle and Charlie Chuckles III was encouraged to add ”Mountbatten” to the ”Windsor”, with the two princes, William and Harry having the family names ”Windsor-Mountbatten”.
    Louis was a member of the Mountbatten family branch that did not benefit from the passing of the Romanov fortune to western European interests.
    1. Lynn Picknett, Clive Prince & Stephen Prior (2002) War of the Windsor, A Century of Unconstitutional Monarchy, Hardie Grant Books, PB, 347pp. @ p 11 – 19.
    The sooner that Australia has an Australian borne Head of State and no ties with Great Britain the better Australia will become as a Republic.

  15. Roswell

    It was a great show. I never appreciated how much Jenny was up against.

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