Sunday, 13 Jun 2021

Prince Charles ‘will face fresh move to ditch monarchy’ after death of Queen

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Historian Professor Jenny Hocking explained how the Queen is an admired and respected monarch, so people are reluctant to push for republicanism while she is still alive as a matter of respect for her personally. However, when she dies that will likely trigger some people to rethink and reassess where they stand on the monarchy. She also argued that gender plays into it to a certain extent, with King Charles III having a different effect to Queen Elizabeth II.

Australia held a referendum in 1999 in which 54.87 percent of people voted to keep the British monarch as their head of state.

However, a recent YouGov poll exposed that 62 percent of Australians today favour having an Australian head of state.

Prof Hocking, who is a National Committee Member of the Australian Republic Movement, claimed there is “always a majority support” for republicanism in Australia, but that they need to hash out what exactly the alternative would be.

She told “What I think will have a big impact here is the inevitable fact of the Queen’s death and coming under a new monarch of King Charles.

“We’ve all grown up with the Queen seen as a very benign and proper and much respected monarch.

“But I think that when we shift to a more ‒ and gender has a certain amount to do with it ‒ when we shift to having a King Charles over the Australian people, King Charles of Australia, I do think people will think again.

“It’s an opportunity for people to think again about whether that might be the right time to start to move to a republic.

“I also think there is a strong view in the community that some people feel we shouldn’t move in that direction while the Queen is still alive, more as a respect thing than a substantive aspect.

“But I think all of those things play into the suggestion that a valid timeline might be one that comes about as King Charles of Australia comes out as the next ruling head of state.”

As of 2020, there are 16 countries for whom the Queen is head of state, including the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and several Caribbean and Oceanic islands.

Barbados was the latest country to cut ties with the monarchy, revealing earlier this year that it plans to remove the Queen as head of state before it celebrates 55 years of independence next year.

Prof Hocking claimed republicanism in Australia is “inevitable” but that they had to work out what the alternative to the monarchy would look like.

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She added: “We do need to grapple with it.

“It’s almost like everybody accepts it’s an inevitability, but we haven’t quite figured out how we are going to get there.”

She added that some people also have reservations about Prince Charles’ history in terms of getting too political.

For example, the black spider memos were letters which the prince sent to Tony Blair and his ministers in 2004 and 2005 in which he wrote about issues close to his heart.

After they were released in 2015, they were described in the press as “underwhelming” and “harmless”, but Prof Hocking could not disagree more.

She said: “The black spider letters make direct policy advocacy into an art form in the letters to Tony Blair and his ministers.

“How they can be seen as anything other than outrageous intervention in the political domain that we know constitutional monarchs cannot do, cannot ever do.

“I mean, those letters are quite shocking and you would know that Buckingham Palace fought and appealed at every point against The Guardian newspaper’s 10-year struggle to get those letters – and for good reason, because they show Charles intervening in the political process quite overtly.

“And, of course, the Freedom of Information Act was changed to make sure that could never happen again the moment The Guardian got those letters.”

Prof Hocking recently won a court case to have a series of letters from 1975 between the Queen, her then-private secretary Sir Martin Charteris and then-Governor-General of Australia Sir John Kerr.

The Palace Letters were a key mystery in what happened in the lead-up to The Dismissal, when Sir John Kerr dismissed Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam and had the Opposition Leader take control.

Prof Hocking compared these letters to the black spider memos, saying: “I think they’re very similar in the sense that they do reveal intensely political discussions.

“You know, I’ve been staggered by reading even scholars who should know better saying that both the spider letters and these letters are a bit of a damp squib, they don’t actually say anything, they show they were not involved.

“That is just the most extraordinary interpretation.”

The Palace Letters: The Queen, the Governor-General, and the plot to dismiss Gough Whitlam’ by Jenny Hocking will be released on December 10. It is available here.

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