As political gestures go, it was undeniably eloquent – if not particularly subtle. A barman has been fined after admitting he sprinted alongside a motorcade carrying the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh during a visit to Brisbane while holding an Australian flag between his bared buttocks. Liam Warriner, from Sydney, said he would happily repeat the gesture for "any self-propagating elitist", naming Barack Obama and the Australian prime minister, Julia Gillard, as suitable targets. The unusual protest took place on 24 October as the royal couple drove through the Queensland capital during their 11-day tour of the country.
On hearing that the royal motorcade was near his place of work, 22-year-old Warriner ran out and lowered his trousers and underwear before raising his shirt to reveal the flag held between his buttocks, Brisbane magistrates court was told. He then sprinted alongside the 14-vehicle procession as it travelled down a major road just outside the city centre in front of a sizable watching crowd. The police prosecutor, Sergeant Troy Newman, argued for a strong penalty given "the defendant's disregard for the importance of the occasion and the number of families and young children in the area at the time".
Warriner's lawyer argued that the motivation for the protest was political, even if his client now accepted that his method "may have crossed the line" into being offensive. Such behaviour would be seen as an unremarkable way for Queenslanders to greet the rival New South Wales rugby league team, John-Paul Mould suggested. The chance of Warriner reoffending in the same way was "extremely unlikely as the Queen was unlikely to visit Australia again", he added. The barman was fined $750 (£510) for making a public nuisance, but was spared a criminal conviction.
He left the court to give reporters a slightly confused explanation for his motives, saying he was a "proud monarchist" but nonetheless viewed the Queen as an "elitist". He said: "People are likening the Queen to their own grandmother. Now the Queen does not get cute granny status, she is a very powerful woman and she is at the head of a very powerful family." He denied that any children witnessed the protest and rejected the notion that it was offensive, saying: "What's uncivilised about it? We come into the world naked." Mr Warriner reportedly plans to move to the UK later this year.