Monarchy of Australia
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|Queen of Australia|
|Heir apparent||Charles, Prince of Wales|
|Formation||1 January 1901|
|This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
The monarchy of Australia is a form of government in which a hereditary monarch is the sovereign. Australia is a constitutional monarchy, largely modelled on the Westminster system of parliamentary government, while incorporating features unique to the Constitution of Australia.
The present monarch is Elizabeth II, styled Queen of Australia, who has reigned since 6 February 1952. She is represented in Australia by the governor-general, in accordance with the Australian constitution and Letters Patent from the Queen. In each of the states, the monarch is represented by a governor, appointed directly by the Queen on the advice of each of her respective state governments.
The Australian monarch, besides reigning in Australia, separately serves as monarch for each of 15 other Commonwealth countries known as Commonwealth realms. This developed from the former colonial relationship of these countries to Britain, but they are now independent of each other and are legally distinct.
- 1 International and domestic aspects
- 2 Personification of the state
- 3 Constitutional role and royal prerogative
- 4 Cultural role
- 5 Religious role
- 6 Vice-regal residences
- 7 Australian Defence Force
- 8 History
- 9 List of Australian monarchs
- 10 See also
- 11 Bibliography
- 12 Notes
- 13 References
- 14 External links
International and domestic aspects
- Further information: Commonwealth realm: The Crown in the Commonwealth realms
The monarch of Australia is the same person as the monarch of the 15 other Commonwealth realms within the 53-member Commonwealth of Nations; however, each country is sovereign and independent of the others. On all matters of the Australian Commonwealth, the monarch is advised by Australian federal Ministers of the Crown and, effective with the Australia Act 1986, no British government can advise the monarch on any matters pertinent to Australia. Likewise, on all matters relating to any Australian state, the monarch is advised by the ministers of the Crown of that state. The British government is thus considered a foreign power in regard to Australia's domestic and foreign affairs. Still, the High Court of Australia found that those natural-born citizens of other Commonwealth realms who migrated to Australia could not be classified as aliens (as referred to in the constitution) within Australia, given that they owed allegiance to the same monarch and thus are subjects of the Queen of Australia. However, in Sue v Hill, the High Court of Australia found that the United Kingdom was a foreign power for the purposes of Section 44 of the Australian Constitution, which determines eligibility for parliamentary office.
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The sovereign's Australian title is currently Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God Queen of Australia and Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth. The shared and domestic aspects of the Crown are therein highlighted by way of mentioning the sovereign's role specifically as the Australian monarch separately from, but along with, the his or her other lands. Typically, the monarch is styled King or Queen of Australia and is addressed as such when in Australia or performing duties on behalf of Australia abroad. The sovereign is the only member of the Royal Family to have a title established through Australian law; other members are accorded a courtesy title, which is the title they have been granted via Letters Patent in the United Kingdom.
Prior to 1953, the title had simply been the same as that in the United Kingdom. The current form of the title is the result of occasional discussion and an eventual meeting of Commonwealth representatives in London in December 1952, at which Canada's preferred format for the monarch's title was Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of [Realm] and of Her other realms and territories, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith. Australia, however, wished to have the United Kingdom mentioned as well. Thus, the resolution was a title that included the United Kingdom but, for the first time, also separately mentioned Australia and the other Commonwealth realms. The passage of a new Royal Style and Titles Act by the Parliament of Australia put these recommendations into law.
It was proposed by the Cabinet headed by Gough Whitlam that the title be amended to "denote the precedence of Australia, the equality of the United Kingdom and each other sovereign nation under the Crown, and the separation of Church and State." A new Royal Titles and Styles Bill that removed specific reference to the monarch's role as Queen of the United Kingdom was passed by the federal parliament, but the Governor-General, Sir Paul Hasluck, reserved Royal Assent "for Her Majesty's pleasure" (similarly to Governor-General Sir William McKell's actions with the 1953 Royal Titles and Styles Bill). Queen Elizabeth II signed her assent at Government House, Canberra, on 19 October 1973.
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Australians do not pay any money to the Queen, either for personal income or to support the royal residences outside Australia. Only when the Queen is in Australia, or acting abroad as Queen of Australia, does the Australian government support her in the performance of her duties. This rule applies equally to other members of the Royal Family. Usually the Queen's Australian governments pay only for the costs associated with the governor-general and governors in their exercising of the powers of the Crown on behalf of the Queen, including travel, security, residences, offices and ceremonial occasions.
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Succession is according to British laws that have been incorporated into Australian law, both federal and state: namely, the Bill of Rights 1689 and the Act of Settlement 1701. These acts limit the succession to the natural (non-adopted), legitimate descendants of Sophia, Electress of Hanover, and stipulate that the monarch must be in communion with the Church of England upon ascending the throne. By adhering to the Statute of Westminster 1931 in 1942, Australia agreed to change its rules of succession only in agreement with the UK and the other then Dominions. In that spirit, the Perth Agreement of 2011 among the Commonwealth realms committed all of them to amending the line of succession to follow absolute primogeniture for those in the Royal family born in and after 2011. As part of the Agreement, Australia, along with the other realms, repealed the Royal Marriages Act 1772, which gave precedence to male heirs and excluded from succession a person married to a Roman Catholic.In Australia, federal legislation to do this required request and concurrence from all of the states, so that the necessary federal legislation was not passed until 24 March 2015, and took effect on 26 March 2015.
Upon a demise of the Crown (the death or abdication of a sovereign), it is customary for the accession of the new monarch to be publicly proclaimed by the governor-general on behalf of the Federal Executive Council, which meets at Government House, Canberra, after the accession. Parallel proclamations are made by the governors in each state. Regardless of any proclamations, the late sovereign's heir immediately and automatically succeeds, without any need for confirmation or further ceremony; hence arises the phrase "The King is dead. Long live the King!". Following an appropriate period of mourning, the monarch is also crowned in the United Kingdom, though this ritual is not necessary for a sovereign to reign; for example, Edward VIII was never crowned, yet was undoubtedly king during his short time on the throne. After an individual ascends the throne, he or she typically continues to reign until death. There is no provision in the law for a monarch to unilaterally abdicate; the only Australian monarch to abdicate, Edward VIII, did so as a consequence of abdicating as monarch of the United Kingdom, with which the Australian government had agreed.
Personification of the state
The legal personality of a component of the Australian state is sometimes expressed by reference to the sovereign. In criminal prosecutions, the state as a party is ordinarily named as "The Queen"—for instance, "The Queen v Crook". However, the prosecutors themselves are referred to as representing "the Crown". In the same sense, all state lands are called Crown land, state-owned buildings and equipment are called Crown-held property, and the copyright for all government publications is called Crown copyright. Where it is not obvious whether the legal personality concerned is the Commonwealth, one of the Australian States or some other state entity, the reference is specified as "The Queen (or the Crown) in right of" the entity concerned. More commonly and conveniently, however, the entity is referred to directly—for example, as "The Commonwealth" or "The State of New South Wales" or simply "New South Wales". But actions against a government are often brought against the responsible officer ex officio—for example, "Smith v Minister for Town and Country Planning" or, more specifically, "Jones v Director of Public Prosecutions (NSW)".
The monarch is also the locus of oaths of allegiance; many employees of the Crown are required by law to recite this oath before taking their posts, such as all members of the Commonwealth parliament, all members of the state and territorial parliaments, as well as all magistrates, judges, police officers and justices of the peace. This is in reciprocation to the sovereign's Coronation Oath, wherein he or she promises "to govern the Peoples of... Australia... according to their respective laws and customs". New appointees to the Federal Cabinet currently also swear an oath that includes allegiance to the monarch before taking their post. However, as this oath is not written in law, it has not always been observed and depends on the form chosen by the prime minister of the time, suggested to the governor-general. In December 2007, Kevin Rudd did not swear allegiance to the sovereign when sworn in by the Governor-General, making him the first prime minister not to do so; however, he (like all other members of parliament) did swear allegiance to the Queen, as required by law, when sworn-in by the governor-general as newly elected parliamentarians. Similarly, the Oath of Citizenship contained a statement of allegiance to the reigning monarch until 1994, when a pledge of allegiance to "Australia" and its values was introduced. The High Court found, in 2002, though, that allegiance to the Queen of Australia was the "fundamental criterion of membership" in the Australian body politic, from a constitutional, rather than statutory, point of view.
Head of state
Australia is a constitutional monarchy, such that its head of state is the monarch and its head of government is the prime minister, with powers limited by both law and convention for government to be carried on democratically. The constitution provides that the Queen is part of the Parliament and is empowered to appoint the governor-general as her representative, while the executive power of the Commonwealth which is vested in the Queen is exercisable by the governor-general as her representative. In practice, the Queen does not play a day-to-day role in the government, and the few functions which the Queen does perform (such as appointing the governor-general) are done on advice from the prime minister. The constitution does not directly mention the term "head of state". The constitution defines the governor-general and the state governors as the monarch's representatives.
While current official sources use the description "head of state" for the Queen, in the lead up to the republic referendum in 1999, Sir David Smith proposed an alternative explanation, that Australia already had a head of state in the person of the Governor-General, who since 1965 has invariably been an Australian citizen. This view has some support within the group Australians for Constitutional Monarchy.
Constitutional role and royal prerogative
|“||We have a very good system now in terms of political stability... one of the reasons why we have had this wonderful stability is because of the constitutional linkages from Crown to Governor-General to Prime Minister at the Federal level, and Crown to Governor to Premiers at the State level. There are checks and balances in the system, and that is why we never had civil wars, that is why we never had huge political upheavals except in '32 and '75. So the system as it is has worked very well.||”|
|— Governor-General Michael Jeffery, 2003|
Australia has a written constitution based on the Westminster model of government, with some federal elements modelled on the United States Constitution and a distinct separation of powers. It gives Australia a parliamentary system similar to the other Commonwealth realms, wherein the role of the Queen and governor-general is both legal and practical. The sovereign of Australia is represented in the federal sphere by the governor-general—appointed by the monarch on the advice of the Prime Minister of Australia—and in each state by a governor—appointed by the monarch upon the advice of the relevant state premier.
In Australia's constitutional system, one of the main duties of the Governor-General is to appoint a Prime Minister, who thereafter heads the Cabinet and advises the Governor-General on how to execute his or her executive powers over all aspects of government operations and foreign affairs. This means that the monarch's and the viceroy's roles are primarily symbolic and cultural, acting as a symbol of the legal authority under which all governments and agencies operate. In practice, ministers direct the use of the royal prerogative that resides in the monarch, which includes the privilege to declare war, maintain peace, and direct the actions of the Australian Defence Force. The Governor-General is empowered by the constitution to summon and prorogue parliament, and call elections; however the powers are almost never exercised without advice from the Prime Minister. Still, the royal prerogative belongs to the Crown, and not to any of the ministers and the Governor-General may unilaterally use these powers in exceptional constitutional crisis situations, such as when, during the 1975 Australian constitutional crisis, Sir John Kerr dismissed Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, on the occasion of a stalemate over government funding between the House of Representatives and the Senate. There are also a few duties which must be specifically performed by the Queen. These include signing the appointment papers of Governors-General, the confirmation of the creation of awards of Australian honours, and the approval of any change in her Australian title.
In accordance with convention, the governor-general, to maintain the stability of government, must appoint as prime minister the individual most likely to maintain the support of the House of Representatives: usually the leader of the political party with a majority in that house, but also when no party or coalition holds a majority (referred to as a minority government situation), or other scenarios in which the governor-general's judgement about the most suitable candidate for prime minister has to be brought into play. The governor-general also appoints to Cabinet the other ministers of the Crown, who are, in turn, accountable to the Parliament, and through it, to the people. The Queen is informed by her viceroy of the acceptance of the resignation of a prime minister and the swearing-in of a new prime minister and other members of the ministry, and she holds audience with her Australian ministers where possible.
Members of various executive agencies and other officials are appointed by the governor-general, including High Court justices. Ministers and parliamentary secretaries are also appointed to the Federal Executive Council. Public inquiries are also commissioned by the Crown through a Royal Warrant, and are called Royal Commissions. A casual vacancy in the Senate is filled by an appointee from the same political party by a state parliament or state governor.
The royal prerogative also extends to foreign affairs: the Governor-General-in-Council negotiates and ratifies treaties, alliances, and international agreements. As with other uses of the royal prerogative, no parliamentary approval is required; however, a treaty cannot alter the domestic laws of Australia; an Act of Parliament is necessary in such cases. The governor-general, on behalf of the Queen, also accredits Australian High Commissioners and ambassadors, and receives diplomats from foreign states. In addition, the issuance of passports falls under the royal prerogative, and, as such, all Australian passports are issued in the name of the governor-general as the monarch's representative.
The sovereign, along with the Senate and the House of Representatives, being one of the three components of parliament, is called the Queen-in-Parliament. The authority of the Crown therein is embodied in the mace (House of Representatives) and Black Rod (Senate), which both bear a crown at their apex. The monarch and viceroy do not, however, participate in the legislative process save for the granting of Royal Assent by the governor-general. Further, the constitution outlines that the governor-general alone is responsible for summoning, proroguing, and dissolving parliament, after which the writs for a general election are usually dropped by the Prime Minister at Government House. The new parliamentary session is marked by the State Opening of Parliament, during which either the monarch or the governor-general reads the Speech from the Throne. As the monarch and viceroy, by convention, cannot enter the House of Representatives, this, as well as the bestowing of Royal Assent, takes place in the Senate chamber; Members of Parliament are summoned to these ceremonies from the House of Representatives by the Crown's messenger, the Usher of the Black Rod, after he knocks on the doors of the lower house that have been slammed closed on him to symbolise the barring of the monarch from the House of Representatives.
All laws in Australia, except in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Legislative Assembly, are enacted only with the viceroy's granting of Royal Assent, done by the governor-general or relevant governor, with the Great Seal of Australia or the appropriate state seal, while territorial legislatures, unlike their state counterparts, are subject to the oversight of the government of Australia. The governor-general may reserve a bill "for the Queen's pleasure"; that is withhold his consent to the bill and present it to the sovereign for her personal decision. Under the constitution, the sovereign also has the power to disallow a bill within one year of the Governor-General having granted Royal Assent. This power, however, has never been used.
In the United Kingdom, the sovereign is deemed the fount of justice. However, he or she does not personally rule in judicial cases, meaning that judicial functions are normally performed only in the monarch's name. Criminal offences are legally deemed to be offences against the sovereign and proceedings for indictable offences are brought in the sovereign's name in the form of The Queen [or King] against [Name] (sometimes also referred to as the Crown against [Name]). Hence, the common law holds that the sovereign "can do no wrong"; the monarch cannot be prosecuted in his or her own courts for criminal offences. Civil lawsuits against the Crown in its public capacity (that is, lawsuits against the government) are permitted; however, lawsuits against the monarch personally are not cognisable. In international cases, as a sovereign and under established principles of international law, the Queen of Australia is not subject to suit in foreign courts without her express consent. The prerogative of mercy lies with the monarch, and is exercised in the state jurisdictions by the governors, who may pardon offences against the Crown, either before, during, or after a trial.
In addition, the monarch also serves as a symbol of the legitimacy of courts of justice, and of their judicial authority; sessions of the High Court, for example, are opened with the words "the High Court of Australia is now in session; God Save the Queen." In a practice dating back to colonial times, state courts traditionally display the arms of the sovereign in right of the United Kingdom, except in New South Wales and Queensland where some of these have been replaced with the state arms.
States and territories
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In accordance with the Australia Act 1986, the Queen has the power to appoint, on the advice of the relevant state premier, a governor in each of the Australian states, who themselves appoint executive bodies, as well as people to fill casual Senate vacancies, if the relevant state parliament is not in session, under the Great Seal of the State. The state governors continue to serve as the direct representatives of the Queen, in no way subordinate to the governor-general, and they carry out on her behalf all of the Queen's constitutional and ceremonial duties in respect of their respective state. The Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory resemble states in many respects, but are administered directly by the Commonwealth of Australia; an administrator, appointed by the governor-general upon the advice of the Commonwealth government, takes the place of a state governor in the Northern Territory. The Australian Capital Territory has no equivalent position.
Royal presence and duties
Members of the Royal Family have been present in Australia since the late 1800s, on military manoeuvres, for official tours, or as the vice-regal representative of the monarch. The Queen was the first reigning monarch of Australia to set foot on Australian soil on 3 February 1954. The Queen has visited the country 16 times, usually on important milestones, anniversaries, or celebrations of Australian culture, while other royals have been asked to participate in lesser occasions. In these instances, when acting at the direction of the Australian Cabinet, they are doing so as monarch of Australia and members of the Royal Family, respectively, and will carry out two types of duties:
Official duties involve the sovereign representing the state at home or abroad, or other Royal Family members participating in a government organised ceremony either in Australia or elsewhere. The sovereign and/or his or her family have participated in events such as various centennials and bicentennials; Australia Day; the openings of Olympic and other games; award ceremonies; D-Day commemorations; anniversaries of the monarch's accession; and the like. Other royals have participated in Australian ceremonies or undertaken duties abroad, such as Prince Charles at the Anzac Day ceremonies at Gallipoli, or when the Queen, Prince Charles, and Princess Anne participated in Australian ceremonies for the anniversary of D-Day in France in 2004. On 22 February 2009, Princess Anne represented the Queen at the National Bushfires Memorial Service in Melbourne. The Queen also showed her support for the people of Australia by making a personal statement about the bushfires and by also making private donation to the Australian Red Cross Appeal. The Duke of Edinburgh was the first to sign a book of condolences at the Australian High Commission in London.
Unofficial duties are performed by Royal Family members on behalf of Australian organisations of which they may be patrons, through their attendance at charity events, visiting with members of the Australian Defence Force as Colonel-in-Chief, or marking certain key anniversaries. The invitation and expenses associated with these undertakings are usually borne by the associated organisation.
Apart from Australia, the Queen and other members of the Royal Family regularly perform public duties in the other 15 nations of the Commonwealth in which the Queen is sovereign. As the Crown within these countries is a legally separate entity from the Australian Crown, it is funded in these countries individually, through the ordinary legislative budgeting process.
The monarchy is presently symbolised through images of the sovereign on currency and in portraits in public buildings; on Australian decorations and honours, some postage stamps and on coats of arms and other government symbols. The crown is used as a heraldic symbol in the coats of arms of the Commonwealth and the states of Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia. Crowns are also visible on police and military badges. The Queen's Birthday is observed as a public holiday in all states.
"God Save the Queen" is Australia's royal anthem. The "Vice-Regal Salute", played only for the governor-general and each state governor, is the first four and last four bars of "Advance Australia Fair".
There are also hundreds of places named after Australian and British monarchs and members of the Royal Family. The states of Queensland and Victoria were named after Queen Victoria; Adelaide, the capital of South Australia is named after Queen Adelaide, the consort of William IV; numerous streets, squares, parks and buildings are also named in honour of past or present members of the Royal Family.
Neither the Queen nor the governor-general or any of the state governors have any religious role in Australia. There never has been an established church in Australia, either before or since Federation in 1901. Pursuant to the Australian Constitution the Commonwealth may not enact a law establishing any religion or prohibiting the free exercise of religion. This is one of the key differences from the Queen's role in England where she is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England.
The Governor-General's official residence is Government House, commonly known as "Yarralumla", in the city of Canberra. The Australian monarch stays there when visiting the country as do visiting heads of state. Government House is the site of most state banquets, investitures, swearing-in of ministers, and other ceremonies. Another vice-regal residence is Admiralty House, in Sydney, and is used principally as a retreat for the Governor-General. The states of New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia, Queensland, Tasmania, and South Australia also maintain residences, used by the respective Governors, though the monarch or other members of the Royal Family will stay there when in the state. These residences are the property of the Crown in respect of each relevant federal or state government, and not of the monarch in his or her personal capacity.
Australian Defence Force
Section 68 of the Australian Constitution says: "The command in chief of the naval and military forces of the Commonwealth is vested in the Governor-General as the Queen's representative." In practice, however, the governor-general does not play any part in the ADF's command structure and the ADF is under the control of the Minister for Defence and several subordinate ministers. The minister advises the governor-general, who acts as advised in the normal form of executive government.
Australian naval vessels bear the prefix Her Majesty's Australian Ship (HMAS) and many regiments carry the "royal" prefix. Members of the Royal Family have presided over military ceremonies, including Trooping the Colours, inspections of the troops, and anniversaries of key battles. When the Queen is in Canberra, she lays a wreath at the Australian War Memorial. In 2003, the Queen acted in her capacity as Australian monarch when she dedicated the Australian War Memorial in Hyde Park, London.
Some members of the Royal Family are Colonels-in-Chief of Australian regiments, including: the Royal Regiment of Australian Artillery; Royal Australian Army Medical Corps; the Royal Australian Armoured Corps and the Royal Australian Corps of Signals, amongst many others. The Queen's husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, is an Admiral of the Fleet in right of the Royal Australian Navy, Marshal of the Royal Australian Air Force, and Field Marshal of the Australian Army.
The development of a distinctly Australian monarchy came about through a complex set of incremental events, beginning in 1770, when Captain James Cook, in the name of, and under instruction from, King George III, claimed the east coast of Australia. Colonies were soon after founded across the continent, all of them ruled by the monarch of the United Kingdom, upon the advice of his or her British ministers, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, in particular. After Queen Victoria's granting of Royal Assent to the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act on 9 July 1900, which brought about Federation in 1901, whereupon the six colonies became the states of Australia, the relationship between the state governments and the Crown remained as it was pre-1901: References in the constitution to "the Queen" meant the government of the United Kingdom (in the formation of which Australians had no say) and the Colonial Laws Validity Act 1865 – by which colonial laws deemed repugnant to imperial (British) law in force in the colony were rendered void and inoperative – remained in force in both the federal and state spheres; and all the governors, both of the Commonwealth and the states, remained appointees of the British monarch on the advice of the British Cabinet, a situation that continued even after Australia was recognised as a Dominion of the British Empire in 1907. As Queen-Empress, Victoria "symbolised the British Empire of which all Australians were subjects".
In response to calls from some Dominions for a re-evaluation in their status under the Crown after their sacrifice and performance in the First World War, a series of Imperial Conferences was held in London, from 1917 on, which resulted in the Balfour Declaration of 1926, which provided that the United Kingdom and the Dominions were to be considered as "autonomous communities within the British Empire, equal in status, in no way subordinate to one another in any aspect of their domestic or external affairs, though united by a common allegiance to the Crown." The Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act, 1927, an Act of the Westminster Parliament, was the first indication of a shift in the law, before the Imperial Conference of 1930 established that the Australian Cabinet could advise the sovereign directly on the choice of Governor-General, which ensured the independence of the office. The Crown was further separated amongst its dominions by the Statute of Westminster 1931, and, though it was not adopted by Australia until 1942 (retroactive to 3 September 1939), the law's validity in the United Kingdom required its government to seek Australia's consent in allowing the abdication of Edward VIII as the King of Australia and all the other Dominions in 1936.
The Curtin Labor Government appointed Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, as Governor-General during the Second World War. Curtin hoped the appointment might influence the British to despatch men and equipment to the Pacific War, and the selection of the brother of King George VI reaffirmed the important role of the Crown to the Australian nation at that time. The Queen became the first reigning monarch to visit Australia in 1954, greeted by huge crowds across the nation. Her son Prince Charles attended school in Australia in 1967. Her grandson Prince Harry undertook a portion of his gap-year living and working in Australia in 2003.
The sovereign did not possess a title unique to Australia until the Australian parliament enacted the Royal Styles and Titles Act in 1953, after the accession of Elizabeth to the throne, and giving her the title of Queen of the United Kingdom, Australia and Her other Realms and Territories. Still, Elizabeth remained both as a queen who reigned in Australia both as Queen of Australia (in the federal jurisdiction) and Queen of the United Kingdom (in each of the states), as a result of the states not wishing to have the Statute of Westminster apply to them, believing that the status quo better protected their sovereign interests against an expansionist federal government, which left the Colonial Laws Validity Act in effect. Thus, the British monarch could still – at least in theory, if not with some difficulty in practice – legislate for the Australian states, and the viceroys in the states were appointed by and represented the sovereign of the United Kingdom, not that of Australia; as late as 1976, the British ministry advised the Queen to reject Colin Hannah as the nominee of the Queensland Cabinet for Governor, and court cases from Australian states could be appealled directly to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London, thereby bypassing the Australian High Court. It was with the passage of the Australia Act in 1986, which repealed the Colonial Laws Validity Act and abolished appeals of state cases to London, that the final vestiges of the British monarchy in Australia were removed, leaving a distinct Australian monarchy for the nation. The view in the Republic Advisory Committee's report in 1993 was that if, in 1901, Victoria, as Queen-Empress, symbolised the British Empire of which all Australians were subjects, all of the powers vested in the monarch under Australia's Constitution were now exercised on the advice of the Australian government. In practice, the Queen's representative in Australia, the Governor-General, represented the British Government directly in 1901 and until 1936, when the first High Commissioner of the United Kingdom to Australia was appointed.
It was around the same time[clarification needed] that a discussion on the matter of Australia becoming a republic began to emerge, later culminating in the 1999 Australian republic referendum, which was defeated by 54.4% of the populace, despite polls showing that the majority supported becoming a republic. It is believed the proposed model of the republic (not having a directly elected president) was unsatisfactory to most Australians. The referendum followed the recommendation of a 1998 Constitutional Convention called to discuss the issue of Australia becoming a republic. Still, nearly another ten years later, Kevin Rudd was appointed as Prime Minister, whereafter he affirmed that a republic was still a part of his party's platform, and stated his belief that the debate on constitutional change should continue.
The previous Prime Minister, Julia Gillard re-affirmed her party's platform about a possible future republic. She stated that she would like to see Australia become a republic, with an appropriate time being when there is a change in monarch. A statement unaligned to this position was recorded on 21 October 2011 at a reception in the presence of the Queen at Parliament House in Canberra when Gillard stated that the monarch is "a vital constitutional part of Australian democracy and would only ever be welcomed as a beloved and respected friend." The then Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, a former head of Australians for Constitutional Monarchy stated on 21 October 2011, "Your Majesty, while 11 prime ministers and no less than 17 opposition leaders have come and gone, for 60 years you have been a presence in our national story and given the vagaries of public life, I'm confident that this will not be the final tally of the politicians that you have outlasted."
A Morgan poll taken in October 2011 found that support for constitutional change was at its lowest for 20 years. Of those surveyed 34% were pro-republic as opposed to 55% pro-monarchist, preferring to maintain the current constitutional arrangements. A peer-reviewed study published in the Australian Journal of Political Science in 2016 found that there had been a significant improvement to support for monarchy in Australia after a twenty-year rapid decline following the 1992 annus horribilis.
List of Australian monarchs
|Reign over the
Commonwealth of Australia
House of Hanover
|1 January 1901||22 January 1901||Alexandrina Victoria||none during Australian reign|
|Governors general: John Hope, 7th Earl of Hopetoun
Prime ministers: Edmund Barton
House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
|22 January 1901||6 May 1910||Albert Edward||Alexandra of Denmark|
|Governors general: John Hope, 7th Earl of Hopetoun, Hallam Tennyson, 2nd Baron Tennyson, Henry Northcote, 1st Baron Northcote, William Ward, 2nd Earl of Dudley
Prime ministers: Sir Edmund Barton, Alfred Deakin, Chris Watson, George Reid, Alfred Deakin, Andrew Fisher, Alfred Deakin
House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha until 1917
House of Windsor after 1917
|6 May 1910||20 January 1936||George Frederick Ernest Albert||Mary of Teck|
|Governors general: William Ward, 2nd Earl of Dudley, Thomas Denman, 3rd Baron Denman, Sir Ronald Ferguson, Henry Forster, 1st Baron Forster, John Baird, 1st Baron Stonehaven. Sir Isaac Isaacs
Prime ministers: Andrew Fisher, Joseph Cook, Andrew Fisher, Billy Hughes, Stanley Bruce, James Scullin, Joseph Lyons
House of Windsor
|20 January 1936||11 December 1936||Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David||none|
|Governors general: Sir Isaac Alfred Isaacs, Alexander Hore-Ruthven, 1st Earl of Gowrie
Prime ministers: Joseph Lyons
House of Windsor
|11 December 1936||6 February 1952||Albert Frederick Arthur George||Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon|
|Governors general: Alexander Hore-Ruthven, 1st Earl of Gowrie, Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, Sir William McKell
Prime ministers: Joseph Lyons, Sir Earle Page, Robert Menzies, Arthur Fadden, John Curtin, Frank Forde, Ben Chifley, Sir Robert Menzies
House of Windsor
|6 February 1952||Incumbent||Elizabeth Alexandra Mary||Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh|
|Governors general: Sir William McKell, Sir William Slim, William Morrison, 1st Viscount Dunrossil, William Sidney, 1st Viscount De L'Isle, Richard Casey, Baron Casey, Sir Paul Hasluck, Sir John Kerr, Sir Zelman Cowen, Sir Ninian Stephen, William Hayden, Sir William Deane, Peter Hollingworth, Michael Jeffery, Dame Quentin Bryce, Sir Peter Cosgrove
Prime ministers: Sir Robert Menzies, Harold Holt, John McEwen, John Gorton, William McMahon, Gough Whitlam, Malcolm Fraser, Bob Hawke, Paul Keating, John Howard, Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard, Kevin Rudd, Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull
Timeline of monarchs
- States headed by Elizabeth II
- Prime Ministers of Queen Elizabeth II
- List of Commonwealth visits made by Queen Elizabeth II
- List of Australian organisations with royal patronage
- Peerage of the Commonwealth of Australia
- Smith, David (2005). Head of State: the Governor-General, the Monarchy, the Republic and the Dismissal. Paddington, NSW: Macleay Press. ISBN 1876492155.
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- Letters Patent Relating to the Office of Governor‑General of the Commonwealth of Australia, 21 August 1984 
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- ^ National Archives of Australia: King George VI (1936–52)
- ^ National Museum of Australia: Royal Romance
- ^ National Archives of Australia: Royal Visit 1954
- ^ National Archives of Australia: Royal Visit 1963
- ^ National Archives of Australia: Prince Charles
- ^ Australian Government: Royal Visits to Australia
- ^ National Archives of Australia: Royalty and Australian Society
- ^ Yahoo News: Prince Edward to visit Vic fire victims
- ^ ABC News: Royal couple set for busy Aust schedule
- ^ Queen, Howard honour war dead
- ^ World leaders hail D-Day veterans
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