On Australia Day 2015, Uk's Prince Philip was given knighthood by Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
On Australia Day 2015, Uk's Prince Philip was given knighthood by Prime Minister Tony Abbott.Reuters

Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced a knighthood for Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh on the occasion of Australia Day 2015, the country's national day, although the announcement was quickly followed by a series of criticisms.

Adding that the Prince had lived a "long life of service and dedication", Abbott said the UK Prince must be handed over the award, which was reintroduced last year.

The leader of the opposition Labour party Bill Shorten immediately condemned the announcement and said it was "anachronistic" to give the top award to a member of the British royal family on Australia Day.

"Why would we give him our top Australian honour? He's already got a lot of them," he told Fairfax radio as reported by BBC.

The 93-year-old prince will now be able to add 'Knight of the Order of Australia' to his list of titles, a statement from the office of Prime Minister said early on Australia Day – an announcement that came as a surprise to many people who took to Twitter and other social media outlets to express outrage – a situation that has been wittily described by CNN as 'Knightmare' in Australia, citing tweets online.

"A Knightmare that makes fun of achieving Australians; if only it were satire I could still say je suis australien," said an individual named 'Peter Garcia-Webb' on Twitter. 

Abbott however dismissed criticism of his decision, describing the negative reaction on social media as "electronic graffiti".

"I'll leave social media to its own devices. Social media is kind of like electronic graffiti and I think that in the media you make a big mistake to pay too much attention to social media," Abbott said as reported by the Sydney Morning Herald.

"You wouldn't report what's sprayed up on the walls of buildings."

He said that Prince Philip was being acknowledged by Australia for being a "great servant" of the country and for his long life of duty and service.

"He's the patron of hundreds of organisations. He's the inspiration and wellspring of the Duke of Edinburgh's Awards, which have provided leadership training for tens if not hundreds of thousands of Australians over the years," he said.