Royal poll shows there may not be a King’s Birthday holiday in the future

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The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall will open the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Queensland next year (screen shot via YouTube).

A poll of the British has found almost two in three do not want Prince Charles to replace the Queen on the throne. History editor Dr Glenn Davies asks why, then, is Prince Charles coming to Queensland to open the 2018 Commonwealth Games as a stand-in for the Queen? 

IN A BLOW TO THE MONARCHY on the Queen’s Birthday public holiday in Queensland, a poll of the British by the Australian Republic Movement has found almost two in three do not want Prince Charles to replace the Queen on the throne.

Only 39% of those Britons polled said they trusted the man who is set to be their next king — and 80% of respondents agreed that a country’s head of state 'should only be a citizen of that country'.

As I wrote last year, Queensland became a little less "Queenie" with the State Government's move of the Queen’s Birthday holiday from the second Monday in June to the first Monday in October in 2016.

Around Australia, the Queen's Birthday public holiday is held on the second Monday in June — except in WA and Queensland. WA had their Queen’s Birthday holiday on Monday, 25 September 2017 and reflected on how the latest royal poll is bad for Prince Charles. However, in Queensland, no one seems to have noticed the move.

With Queen Elizabeth now in her 90s, Australians can expect to hear two words with repeated frequency: “King Charles”. The perceived unpopularity of the Queen’s son is a fact backed up by polling conducted between 25 and 28 August 2017 — days before the 20th anniversary of Princess Diana’s death.

Michael Cooney, ARM national director stated:

“You get one Queen Elizabeth every 400 years, that’s the truth. It’s a big thing for Australians to understand – that if we don’t want King Charles, we have to have a republic. If we don’t have a republic it’s not up to us.”

Cooney said the message was clear — King Charles was “unpopular and untrusted, even at home”.

He said:

“What this really shows is that the question for Australia is not whether we have change, it is what kind of change we have. And the choice is between either King Charles or an Australian, chosen by Australians, to be the head of state.”

Michael Cooney said the decision by the Australian Republic Movement to poll UK citizens was made because “they have more influence over the result than we [Australians] did”.

Despite the popularity of the new generation of royals, with William, Catherine and Harry helping to reinvigorate interest in the monarchy, Australia would have King Charles as its head of state.

Mr Cooney added:

"The one thing we know is it is highly predictable the next king of England and king of Australia is Charles. We are not going to have William as our next king. Becoming a republic will not stop them from visiting for things like the Invictus Games, or the Commonwealth Games, or things like that. But it will mean we have a chance to have our own head of state."

Prince Charles will open the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April 2018 and read the message contained in the Queen’s Baton. The message is currently on a 388-day trek across the nations and territories of the Commonwealth after the launch of the Queen’s Baton relay at Buckingham Palace, in March 2017.

The 11-day Gold Coast Commonwealth Games will be the 21st instalment of the Commonwealth Games. First held in 1930 as the British Empire Games, the event has been staged four times in Australia — most recently in Melbourne in 2006. When the Commonwealth Games comes to the Gold Coast, Queensland in 2018, there will be more than 30 republics competing — from India and South Africa to Singapore and Samoa.

The Commonwealth of Nations is a voluntary association which consists of 52 independent nations that span Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe and the Pacific, and are diverse — they are amongst the world’s largest, smallest, richest and poorest countries.

This association of states evolved from the British Empire. The Commonwealth, unlike most international organisations, does not rest on a written constitution, does not have a central government, nor impose any rigid contractual obligations. With the London Declaration on India in 1949, many member states have employed the Indian precedent of continuing as a Commonwealth member after they have revoked their allegiance to the Crown and become a republic.

Since 1949, the Commonwealth has evolved into an association of states where many recognise the Crown only as the head of the Commonwealth, not of their individual state. As the Commonwealth has developed it has become increasingly subject to the will of the member countries as a whole and not simply that of Britain as its most powerful member. Queen Elizabeth II is Head of the Commonwealth, although the choice of the next head will be made collectively by Commonwealth leaders.

In the lead-up to the 1999 referendum on the Australian Republic, monarchists firmly established a particular myth in many Australians minds. This is the one that pretends that as a republic we won’t be able to continue to participate in the Commonwealth Games. It needs to be made clear that Australia will still be a Commonwealth country if Australians vote to become a republic at some future date — whether during the Queen’s reign or after it.

In 2011, IA managing editor David Donovan wrote that during the Commonwealth Games in India, there were 32 republics competing out of 53 member nations as a whole. Upon becoming republics, all these countries applied for and were immediately readmitted to the Commonwealth. At the 2007 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, the issue of membership was considered in response to an application by Rwanda – a country that had never even been a British colony – to join the Commonwealth.

The committee issued a statement on 25 November 2007 that was to be called the Kampala Communiqué, that stated:

'88. Heads of Government also agreed that, where an existing member changes its formal constitutional status, it should not have to reapply for Commonwealth membership provided that it continues to meet all the criteria for membership.'

If Australia had become a republic before 2007, exactly the same process would have occurred — Australia would have reapplied and been immediately readmitted. Since the 2007 Kampala Declaration, of course, Australia wouldn't even need to reapply — it would simply continue as a Commonwealth nation even after becoming a republic.

It appears the next King of Australia is very unpopular in Britain: 63% of those surveyed do not want Charles to be King and only 39% said they trust the Prince. But because Britain is a monarchy, they don't get to decide — and neither do we.

So, the Queen’s Birthday public holiday is connected to a complete lack of community activity or acknowledgement and a poll now tells us the British people have no faith in their next monarch.

This is all absurd.

A new head of state is inevitable within a few years — but an Australian head of state is not inevitable.

Perhaps the value of the Queen’s Birthday public holiday is to have time to quietly reflect the future of our nation. If we don't do anything, we get King Charles III.

History editor Dr Glenn Davies is an Australian Republican Movement Queensland branch councillor and former convenor. You can follow Dr Davies on Twitter @DrGlennDavies.

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