The Queen is the constitutional monarch of Australia, meaning she plays a ceremonial and largely symbolic role. According to the official royal.uk website, she has “developed a very personal relationship with Australia” throughout her reign which is also “unique” — and the monarch is conscious that she “speaks and acts as Queen of Australia” in all her duties. After a 1999 referendum, the nation voted to keep the British monarchy with 55 percent rejecting the prospect of a republic.
Yet, it is believed that many are waiting until the crown passes to Charles before cutting ties with Australia’s overseas sovereign, as a show of respect to the Queen’s long and stable reign.
The Newspaper The Australian revealed in 2017 that 51 percent want an Australian head of state — although this shoots up to 55 percent in the event that Charles becomes king.
However, reports have emerged over the years that claim the Prince of Wales supports the idea of Australia leaving the monarchy behind.
Former Prime Minister Paul Keating, who led the country between 1991 and 1996, told The Australian: “I have no doubt he [Charles] believes Australia should be free of the British monarchy and that it should make its own way in the world.
“Why would he or any one of his family want to visit Australia pretending to be, or representing its aspirations as its head of state?”
Mr Keating continued: “No great country ever borrows the monarch of another country.
“And Australia is otherwise entitled to be a great country. But it cannot be until it sheds the derivative notion that its roots lie somewhere else.”
Mr Keating alleged that he had raised the issue of Australia’s constitutional future with Charles before his visit down under to support the Commonwealth Games back in 2018.
These allegations first appeared in The Australian, but similar claims have been circulating for some time.
During a trip to Australia with Princess Diana and their then infant son Prince William, Charles reportedly made a pointed remark at the thought of Australia going independent.
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Australian journalist David Marr recalled the event in The Guardian and claimed: “Back then it was the iron etiquette around royalty that nothing they said could ever be reported.
“But so many archives have given up their secrets in the past 30 years that surely it can be reported now that the Prince of Wales’ attitude to an Australian republic back then was: ‘No skin off anyone’s nose’.”
Clarence House declined to comment on Charles’ views.
Interestingly, back in July, archival letters between the Queen’s private secretary, Sir Martin Chateris and the then governor general, Sir John Kerr, were uncovered and they addressed the Prince of Wales’ involvement with Australia.
Sir Martin discussed the Queen’s thoughts on making Charles Governor General of Australia and said she would not “look with favour” upon such a decision until “he has a settled married life”.
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The 1976 letter was written five years before Charles wed Princess Diana.
Sir Martin continued: “No one will know better than you how important it is for a Governor General to have a lady by his side for the performance of his duties.
“The prospect, therefore, of the Prince of Wales becoming governor general of Australia must remain in the unforeseeable future.”
The private secretary then expanded upon his thoughts in a later letter and noted that it would also be “very difficult” for the heir to the throne to become governor general “until the constitutional questions are solved”.
Australia had a constitutional crisis in 1975 triggered by the dismissal of the Prime Minister Gough Whitlam by the Governor General Sir John Kerr.
Sir John then dissolved Parliament for a double dissolution election.
While the crisis was then resolved, Charles was still not chosen to be the Governor General of Australia.
Charles also considered buying a property in Australia in 1974 because “it is a project close to the Prince of Wales’ heart”, according to Sir Martin.
However this never went ahead because there was a fear “the public in this country would misunderstand a decision by the Prince of Wales to buy a property at a time of great economic difficulty”.