Prince Charles in Australia, where half don’t want him king
CANBERRA, Australia—Britain’s Prince Charles and wife Camilla received a warm reception from hundreds of Australians who waited in the rain to see them Wednesday, even as a new poll showed 51 percent would not want him as king.
Crowds endured the wet in Canberra to greet the pair who are spending six days in Australia after a tour of New Zealand, which the country’s Prime Minister John Key described as a move to help the prince “establish a rapport” with Kiwis before he inherits the throne.
At the Australian War Memorial in the capital, the royals mingled with the crowd and laid wreaths at a solemn Remembrance Day service.
“I was so excited,” said one woman who greeted the Prince.
Charles is set to meet later Wednesday with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, an avowed republican who led the push for Australia to break ties with the British monarchy ahead of a failed referendum in 1999.
The prime minister once slammed Australia’s Governor-General, the British monarch’s representative in the country, an “unelected ribbon cutter”, and when asked is he still held that view he said he had always been a republican but at 61 expressed himself more prudently than in the past.
He acknowledged that under the current Australian constitution Charles was on track to become King of Australia once Queen Elizabeth II’s reign ended.
“The opportunities for constitutional change are somewhat more challenging than the opportunities for strong economic growth,” he said.
But a new poll conducted for the Australian Republican Movement (ARM) has suggested that support for change is growing, with 51 percent saying they would prefer an Australian head of state to a King Charles, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
The survey of 1,008 voters conducted earlier this month asked: “When Prince Charles becomes King of Australia, will you support or oppose replacing the British monarch with an Australian citizen as Australia’s head of state?”
Only 27 percent opposed replacing Charles, while 22 percent were undecided on the issue, which has not been a prominent concern in Australia in recent years where the Queen is a much-loved figure.
ARM chairman Peter FitzSimons told the paper that republicans welcomed Charles and Camilla to Australia.
But he added: “We look forward to the day when members of the royal family make the trip as our equals and not Australia’s current and future rulers.”
The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall have already visited South Australia’s world-renowned Barossa Valley vineyards and are set to visit Sydney on Thursday before travelling to Perth.