The decision to award the Queen's husband, Prince Philip, an Australian knighthood must seem almost as bemusing to the British royal family as it does to many Australians.
Less than 24 hours after announcing the inspired decision to name domestic violence campaigner Rosie Batty as Australian of the year, Tony Abbott followed up with one of the strangest, most unexpected captain's calls that will have many Australians questioning his judgment at a time when he desperately needs to win their confidence.
Most Australians are wary of class and elitism, which may go some way to explaining why the decision to reintroduce an order of Australian knights and dames drew so much derision when it was announced last March. But to use that system, which sits above the Australian of the Year Awards, to honour a foreigner over all the inspiring and impressive Australians named just hours earlier seems wrong on many levels.
That governors-general, a royal and military figures are the only ones to have been knighted so far under the reintroduced system again places our nation's elite above the everyday Australians acknowledged in the Australia Day honours for their outstanding contributions.
On a day when the nation should have been celebrating Rosie Batty, the woman whose courage inspired a nation, when she took her own unimaginable and very public tragedy as an opportunity to raise awareness of the suffering of thousands of other domestic violence victims, the Prime Minister has shifted the focus to a member of the British royal family with a chequered history.
A royal who famously asked Aboriginal leader Ivan Brim in Cairns in 2002: "Do you still throw spears at each other?" A royal who asked a British student who had been trekking on the Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea in 1998: "You managed not to get eaten then?"
In announcing Prince Philip's knighthood, Mr Abbott highlighted the Duke of Edinburgh's years of commitment to Australia, including the positive impact of the Duke of Edinburgh awards have had in developing young Australians and his long service to the Crown and the wider Commonwealth. Watching the unfolding controversy from afar, Buckingham Palace will be wondering how best to acknowledge the honour without wading into the public debate.
While it is true that Prince Philip has supported many good causes in Australia, as the spouse of the monarch, that's also his job.
Sadly, the announcement will also take oxygen from the elevation of former Defence Force Chief Angus Houston. Sir Angus is one of the most highly regarded military figures in Australia, a man who not only led Australia's defence forces with dignity and professionalism during times of conflict, but also proved his strength of character by standing up to the Howard government - under enormous political pressure - at the height of the Children Overboard affair in 2002.
With the Prime Minister already fighting off leadership speculation part way through his first term, and a series of embarrassing policy backdowns in recent weeks over higher education funding and GP co-payments, the last thing Tony Abbott needs right now is another controversy to blow up in his face.
That the decision has created a heated backlash should come as no surprise, and shows that either the Prime Minister or those advising him are either not in tune with much of the electorate, or simply don't care.
Public opinion is a powerful force, and politicians study polling religiously, despite their claims to the contrary. Leaderships have turned on lesser public gaffes.
The annoyance of those Australians ridiculing Mr Abbott's knighthood of Prince Philip will fade, and Ms Batty will have many more opportunities to use her newfound status over the next 12 months to extend her already significant awareness-raising on domestic violence.
But as the storm blows over, already worried coalition powerbrokers will be wondering if this has been one gaffe too many for the struggling Prime Minister.