Australian PM to declare allegiance to the King – but wants president

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Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has said he will declare his allegiance to the King at the coronation – despite believing that Australia should have its own head of state.

Mr Albanese voted in a failed referendum in 1999 for an Australian citizen to replace the British monarch as the country’s head of state.

He said he accepted that a majority of Australians chose for the country to remain a constitutional monarchy instead of becoming a republic and would reflect that sentiment when he attends the King’s coronation on Saturday in London.

Coronation graphic
(PA Graphics)

“That doesn’t mean that you cannot have respect for the institution, which is the system of government that we have,” he said.

“And I believe, as the Australian prime minister, I have a particular responsibility to represent the nation in a way that respects the constitutional arrangements, which are there.”

The Australian Republic Movement, which campaigns for Australia to become a republic, has urged Mr Albanese to remain silent when the Archbishop of Canterbury invites “all who desire” among the congregation at Westminster Abbey to take the oath of allegiance to the King.

Anthony Albanese
Mr Albanese has been open about wanting an Australian to be Australia’s head of state (Australian Broadcasting Corp via AP)

“I think as the Australian prime minister, people expect me to not come to the King’s coronation in order to create a controversy,” Mr Albanese said.

Brought up as a Roman Catholic, Mr Albanese opted against swearing an oath on a Bible a year ago when he was appointed prime minister by Governor-General David Hurley, who was then Australia’s representative of the late Queen.

He took an affirmation of office, a secular alternative to the oath that does not mention God or the monarch.

Nick Cave
Nick Cave will be among the Australian guests at the ceremony (Yui Mok/PA)

The delegation will be led by Australian women’s football star Sam Kerr, who currently plays for Chelsea; post-punk pioneer musician Nick Cave; and comedian Adam Hills.

As a coronation gift, the Australian government will donate 10,000 Australian dollars (£5,300) to a charity that conserves the Western ground parrot, an endangered Australian bird.

Mr Albanese has ruled out holding a referendum to replace the British monarch with an Australian president during his first three-year term in office.

This year, he is prioritising a referendum that would recognize Indigenous Australians in the constitution and create a representative body to advise the parliament on Indigenous issues.

While Mr Albanese has appointed a minister responsible for the republic, he has not provided a time frame for when Australians will get to vote on such a constitutional change.

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