Prince Charles speaks during CHOGM opening ceremony (Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty)
Prince Charles speaks during CHOGM opening ceremony (Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty)

The BulletinJune 27, 2022

The Prince and the future of constitutional monarchies

Prince Charles speaks during CHOGM opening ceremony (Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty)
Prince Charles speaks during CHOGM opening ceremony (Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty)

Prince Charles’s recent comments suggest he knows many countries may wish to become a republic, so should New Zealand start planning for it, asks Anna Rawhiti-Connell in The Bulletin.


“It’s fine to ditch the monarchy”

At the opening address at the Commonwealth heads of government meeting (CHOGM) in Rwanda on Friday, Prince Charles told the assembled Commonwealth leaders that keeping the Queen as head of state or becoming a republic is “a matter for each member country to decide” and that such fundamental changes could be made “calmly and without rancour”. Britain’s ITV interpreted that as “Charles tells Commonwealth it’s fine to ditch monarchy”. The comments come after Barbados became a republic last November and other Caribbean countries like Jamaica signalling they are headed the same way.

Australia already making a start

Today on the Spinoff, Toby Manhire argues that the prince’s reputation for “meddling in political territories his mother studiously avoids” should “jolt us onto the republican path”. He does give credit to the prince, referencing his comments at CHOGM, for knowing which way the wind is blowing. Australia has recently installed an assistant minister for the republic, who will lay the groundwork over the next three years to make sure the country is “ready to go in a second term of an Albanese government”. Peter Dunne has recently argued we should quickly follow Australia’s path. Like prime minister Jacinda Ardern, Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese is not at CHOGM this year. Both will be at the NATO summit.

The contrast between Matariki and the Jubilee

The republic debate comes around like Christmas, except maybe twice a year now. In March last year, after a flurry of media coverage around the Sussexs, Danyl Mclauchlan wrote that what we have isn’t broken and that a republic isn’t the answer to our problems. I thought this reflection from Stuff’s Laura Walters on the contrast between our recognition of the Jubilee and Matariki was thoughtful. I watched the excellent Matariki coverage on TVNZ on Friday and was surprised at how stirring I found the talk of nationhood. I also tuned into the Jubilee concert a few weeks ago and, yes, I loved the Paddington bear thing, but it really felt like a fun, slightly bonkers celebration of Great Britain more than anything else.

The election platform maths

As Manhire writes, there does seem to be some consensus that a republic will happen but we are consistently told “not now”, “not a priority” or “not an appetite from the public”. As Stuff’s Glenn McConnell writes, enthusiasm for the Jubilee seemed muted from all our political leaders. Ardern has said that New Zealand becoming a republic is likely to happen in her lifetime. Based on the PM’s (and my own) life expectancy, it would then need to happen in the next 40 years, or sometime in the next 13 election cycles before 2082 (based on a three-year term). If we assume a government gets two to three terms, one of the next four to six governments is going to need to make it part of an election platform. Given everything else that’s going on right now, kicking the can down the road might be a fair call, but if Prince Charles is anticipating a different future, we may need to do a bit more than that soon.

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Mad Chapman, Editor
Aotearoa continues to adapt to a new reality and The Spinoff is right there, sorting fact from fiction to bring you the latest updates and biggest stories. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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