Monarchy of Papua New Guinea

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Queen of Papua New Guinea
National emblem of Papua New Guinea.svg
Elizabeth II (1).jpg
Elizabeth II
since 16 September 1975
StyleHer Majesty
Heir apparentCharles, Prince of Wales
First monarchElizabeth II
Formation16 September 1975
ResidenceGovernment House, Port Moresby[1]

The monarchy of Papua New Guinea is a system of government in which a hereditary monarch is the sovereign and head of state of Papua New Guinea. The current monarch, since 16 September 1975, is Queen Elizabeth II.[2] Although the person of the sovereign is equally shared with 14 other independent countries within the Commonwealth of Nations, each country's monarchy is separate and legally distinct. As a result, the current monarch is officially titled the Queen of Papua New Guinea and, in this capacity, she and other members of the Royal Family undertake public and private functions domestically and abroad as representatives of the Papua New Guinean state. However, the Queen is the only member of the Royal Family with any constitutional role. The Queen lives predominantly in the United Kingdom and, while several powers are the sovereign's alone, most of the royal governmental and ceremonial duties in Papua New Guinea are carried out by the Queen's representative, the governor-general.

The responsibilities of the sovereign, and of the governor-general, under the Papua New Guinean constitution, include summoning and dismissing parliament, calling elections, and appointing governments. Further, Royal Assent or the royal sign-manual are required to enact laws, letters patent, and orders in council. But the authority for these acts stems from the country's populace, in which sovereignty is vested, and the monarch's direct participation in any of these areas of governance is limited, with most related powers entrusted for exercise by the elected and appointed parliamentarians, the ministers of the Crown drawn from amongst them, and judges.


The British protectorate of the Territory of Papua along the south coast of New Guinea and adjacent islands was proclaimed in 1884. After being fully annexed into the British Empire in 1888, the territory was placed in 1902 under the authority of the Crown in its Australian parliament and council.[3] The northern area of New Guinea was a territory of the imperial German Crown until Australia seized the area during the First World War.[4] After the Second World War, the Territory of Papua and New Guinea was established as a United Nations trust territory administered by Australia. Independence from Australia was granted in 1975.

Road to independent monarchy[edit]

Queen Elizabeth II did not become the monarch of Papua New Guinea because its people decided to retain her. Elizabeth II is their sovereign because they actually invited her to become their head of state.[5][6]

Papua New Guinea became independent on 16 September 1975, having been under Australian administration for the previous 60 years, but decided that it still wanted a monarch as its head of state. Papua New Guinean ministers noted the affection the people had for Elizabeth II when she last visited in 1974. They wanted a politically-neutral head of state who could provide unity and continuity, and the Government wanted to retain all the traditional knighthoods and decorations.[5][6]

On 15 August 1975, the Assembly of Papua New Guinea formally adopted the Constitution, invited the Queen to be head of state and asked her to accept Parliament's nomination of John Guise as Governor-General of Papua New Guinea.[7] According to Martin Charteris, the Queen was “both tickled and touched” and that she accepted the role straight away.[5]

According to historian Robert Hardman, Papua New Guinea is "the one part of the world where The Queen is, effectively, an elected monarch".[5]

The Constitution of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea also states that The Queen had been requested by the people of Papua New Guinea, through their Constituent Assembly, to become the Queen and Head of State of Papua New Guinea; and she "graciously consented" so to become.[8]

The Papua New Guinean Crown and its aspects[edit]

Papua New Guinean version of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal, 2012

The sovereign's role as monarch of Papua New Guinea is distinct to his or her position as monarch of any other realm,[2] including the United Kingdom.

This division is illustrated in a number of ways: The monarch, for example, holds a unique Papua New Guinean title. Further, when she and other members of the Royal Family are acting in public specifically as representatives of Papua New Guinea, they will use, where possible, Papua New Guinean symbols, including the country's national flag. The sovereign similarly only draws from Papua New Guinean coffers for support in the performance of her duties as Queen of Papua New Guinea; citizens do not pay any money to the Queen or any other member of the Royal Family, either towards personal income or to support royal residences outside of Papua New Guinea. Normally, tax dollars pay only for the costs associated with the governor-general as an instrument of the Queen's authority, including travel, security, residences, offices, ceremonies, and the like.

Constitutional role[edit]

The Governor General of Papua New Guinea with the President of India, and other diplomats, standing under a portrait of the Queen at Government House, Port Moresby[9]

Papua New Guinea shares equally the same sovereign with fourteen other monarchies (a grouping, including Papua New Guinea, known as the Commonwealth realms) in the 54-member Commonwealth of Nations. Despite sharing the same person as their respective national monarch, each of the Commonwealth realms—including Papua New Guinea—is sovereign and independent of the others.

The Monarchy of Papua New Guinea exists in a framework of a parliamentary representative democracy. Only Papua New Guinean ministers of the Crown can advise the sovereign on matters of the Papua New Guinean state.[10]

Unlike in most other Commonwealth realms, sovereignty is constitutionally vested in the citizenry of Papua New Guinea and the preamble to the constitution states "that all power belongs to the people—acting through their duly elected representatives". The monarch has been, according to section 82 of the constitution, "requested by the people of Papua New Guinea, through their Constituent Assembly, to become [monarch] and Head of State of Papua New Guinea" and thus acts in that capacity. The document thereafter sets out the role and powers of the monarch.[8]

On all matters of the Papua New Guinean State, the monarch is advised solely by Papua New Guinean ministers. The monarch is represented by the Governor-General of Papua New Guinea, who is nominated by the National Parliament of Papua New Guinea.[2]

The Crown and Honours[edit]

The St Edward's Crown surmounting the insignia of the Grand Companion of the Order of Logohu

Within the Commonwealth realms, the monarch is deemed the fount of honour.[11] Similarly, the monarch, as Sovereign of Papua New Guinea, confers awards and honours in Papua New Guinea in her name. Most of them are often awarded on the advice of "Her Majesty's Papua New Guinea Ministers".[12][13]

Papua New Guinea's own national honours and awards system, known as "The Orders of Papua New Guinea", was formally established on 23 August 2005 by authority of Elizabeth II, the Queen and Head of State of Papua New Guinea. The Queen is the Sovereign and Head of the Orders of Papua New Guinea. Her Representative, the Governor-General of Papua New Guinea, is the Chancellor of the Orders of Papua New Guinea and Principal Grand Companion of the Order of Logohu.[14]

The Crown and Government[edit]

The flag of the Papua New Guinean Governor-General featuring the St Edward's Crown

As a constitutional monarch, The Queen acts entirely on the advice of Papua New Guinean Ministers of the Crown.

Most of the Queen's domestic duties are performed by the Governor-General, her representative in Papua New Guinea. There are also a few duties which must be specifically performed by, or bills that require assent by the Queen. These include: signing the appointment papers of governors-general, the confirmation of awards of honours, and approving any change in her title. It is also possible that if the governor-general decided to go against the prime minister's or the government's advice, the prime Minister could appeal directly to the monarch, or even recommend that the monarch dismiss the governor-general.[8] No governor-general has been dismissed from office, although in 1991, Sir Vincent Serei Eri resigned from office after Prime Minister Sir Rabbie Namaliu advised the queen to dismiss him.

All executive powers of Papua New Guinea rest with the sovereign.[8] All laws in Papua New Guinea are enacted only with the granting of Royal Assent, done by the Governor-General on behalf of the sovereign. The Governor-General is also responsible for proroguing, and dissolving Parliament. The opening of a session of Parliament is accompanied by the Speech from the Throne by the Governor-General.[15]

The Crown and the Courts[edit]

The Papua New Guinean monarch, on the advice of the National Executive Council, can also grant immunity from prosecution, exercise the royal prerogative of mercy, and pardon offences against the Crown, either before, during, or after a trial. The exercise of the 'Power of Mercy' to grant a pardon and the commutation of prison sentences is described in section 151 of the Constitution.[8]


The monarch holds a unique Papua New Guinean title, granted by the constitution—Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Papua New Guinea and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth[8]—though, the monarch is typically styled Queen of Papua New Guinea and is addressed as such when in Papua New Guinea or performing duties on behalf of Papua New Guinea abroad.

Colloquially, the Queen is referred to as "Missis Kwin" and as "Mama belong big family" in the creole language of Tok Pisin.[2]

Oath of allegiance[edit]

The oath of allegiance in Papua New Guinea is:[8]

"I, (name), do swear that I will well and truly serve and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, her heirs and successors according to law. So help me God."

Cultural role[edit]

The Queen's Official Birthday is a public holiday in Papua New Guinea. In Papua New Guinea, it is usually celebrated on the second Monday of June every year. Official celebrations occur at hotels in Port Moresby, and much of the day is filled with sports matches, fireworks displays, and other celebrations and events. Honours and medals are given for public service to Papua New Guineans, who are mentioned in the Queen's Birthday Honours List.[16]

The Crown and Tok Pisin[edit]

Mi bringim bikpela tok hamamas bilong mejesti kwin Papua Niugini na olgeta haus lain bilong mi lon dispela taim bilong Diamon Jubili misis kwin. Mi tokpisin olrite?
(Tok Pisin: I bring you greetings from Her Majesty the Queen of Papua New Guinea and from all my family members during this celebration of the Diamond Jubilee of the Queen. Was my Pisin correct?)

In Tok Pisin, the Queen is referred to as Missis Kwin and as Mama belong big family.[2]

The Queen's eldest son, Charles is known in Tok Pisin as Nambawan Pikinini Bilong Misis Kwin (first born child of Missis Kwin). The late Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh was addressed as "Oldfella Pili-Pili Him Bilong Misis Kwin".[18]

In August 1984, the Prince of Wales visited Manus island and in a lavish ceremony was crowned '10th Lapan of Manus'. A feast was organised for this occasion and all the local chiefs were invited. Charles—draped with dogs' teeth necklaces—accepted the title by saying, "Wuroh, wuroh, wuroh, all man meri bilong Manus. Mi hammamas tru" (Tok Pisin: Thank you all men and women of Manus. I am truly filled with happiness.).[19][20]

Missis Kwin by Mathias Kauage, 1996

In 1996, the people of Papua New Guinea presented the Queen with a portrait, titled Missis Kwin. Painted by artist Mathias Kauage, the Queen is shown wearing a Gerua, an important ceremonial headdress traditionally worn by Chieftains in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea. A Gerua is generally made of wood that is carved and then painted in bright colours to resemble the feathers of birds of paradise, and other species. According to the artist, the portrait represents the Queen as Head of the Commonwealth.[21][22]


Charles, Prince of Wales, the current heir apparent to the throne of Papua New Guinea

The constitution provides that the Queen's heirs shall succeed her as head of state. Like some realms, Papua New Guinea defers to United Kingdom law to determine the line of succession.[23]

Succession is by absolute primogeniture governed by the provisions of the Succession to the Crown Act 2013, as well as the Act of Settlement, 1701, and the Bill of Rights, 1689. This legislation limits the succession to the natural (i.e. non-adopted), legitimate descendants of Sophia, Electress of Hanover, and stipulates that the monarch cannot be a Roman Catholic, nor married to one, and must be in communion with the Church of England upon ascending the throne. Though these constitutional laws, as they apply to Papua New Guinea, still lie within the control of the British parliament, via adopting the Statute of Westminster both the United Kingdom and Papua New Guinea agreed not to change the rules of succession without the unanimous consent of the other realms, unless explicitly leaving the shared monarchy relationship; a situation that applies identically in all the other realms, and which has been likened to a treaty amongst these countries.[24]

Royal visits[edit]

I know how honoured Her Majesty is to be your Queen, a title borne by her with immense pride and renewed by the people of this great country upon independence in 1975.

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, visited during an extended Commonwealth tour which lasted from October 1956 until February 1957.[26]

The Queen visited Papua New Guinea for the first time in February 1974, and again in 1977 during her Silver Jubilee tour, when she toured the capital Port Moresby, Popondetta and Alotau. The Queen and the Duke visited again in October 1982.[26]

Charles, Prince of Wales, toured in 1966, while he was a student in Australia. For the independence celebrations in 1975, the Queen of Papua New Guinea was represented by the Prince of Wales. Charles visited again in 1984 to open the new parliament building in Port Moresby, and in 2012 on a tour on the occasion of his mother's diamond jubilee.[2][27][26]

Prince Andrew, Duke of York, visited in 2015 to open the 2015 Pacific Games and attend Port Moresby (Bomana) War Cemetery.[2]


  1. ^ Lennox, Doug (2009), Now You Know Royalty, Dundurn Press, p. 102, ISBN 9781770704060
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Papua New Guinea". The Royal Family. Royal Household. Retrieved 11 April 2021.
  3. ^ Waiko, John Dademo (1993). A Short History of Papua New Guinea. OUP Australia and New Zealand. ISBN 978-0195531640.
  4. ^ Waiko, John Dademo (2003). Papua New Guinea: A History of Our Times. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0195516623.
  5. ^ a b c d Hardman, Robert (2018), Queen of the World, Random House, p. 233, ISBN 9781473549647
  6. ^ a b Butler, David (1991), Surrogates for the Sovereign: Constitutional Heads of State in the Commonwealth, Palgrave Macmillan UK, p. 234, ISBN 9781349115655
  7. ^ Woolford, Don (2018), Papua New Guinea: Initiation and Independence, University of Queensland Press, ISBN 9781921902192
  8. ^ a b c d e f g Elizabeth II (1975), Constitution of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea (PDF), Ministry of Inter Government Relations, archived from the original (PDF) on 29 January 2013, retrieved 18 August 2013
  9. ^ For comparison, see this.
  10. ^ Scott, F. R. (January 1944). "The End of Dominion Status". The American Journal of International Law. American Society of International Law. 38 (1): 34–49. doi:10.2307/2192530. JSTOR 2192530.
  11. ^ Commonwealth Journal: The Journal of the Royal Commonwealth Society · Volumes 12-14, Royal Commonwealth Society, 1969, p. 99
  12. ^ "No. 60536". The London Gazette (Supplement). 15 June 2013. pp. 39–46.
  13. ^ "No. 50367". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 1985. pp. 43–46.
  14. ^ Establishment
  15. ^ Roles
  16. ^ "Queen's Birthday 2022, 2023 and 2024 in Papua New Guinea". Retrieved 3 November 2021.
  17. ^ "Royal visits". Retrieved 3 November 2021.
  18. ^ Prince Charles in Papua New Guinea: how to speak pidgin English like a royal
  19. ^ Prince Charles, Prince of Wales
  20. ^ Lynn Picknett (1984), The Royal Year: A Year in the Life of the Royal Family, Orbis, pp. 70, 73, ISBN 9780856138218
  21. ^ Missis Kwin
  22. ^ Missis Kwin
  23. ^ Clegg, Nick (26 March 2015), Commencement of Succession to the Crown Act 2013 :Written statement - HCWS490, London: Queen's Printer, retrieved 26 March 2015
  24. ^ Justice Rouleau in a 2003 court ruling wrote that "Union under the ... Crown together with other Commonwealth countries [is a] constitutional principle". O’Donohue v. Canada, 2003 CanLII 41404 (ON S.C.)
  25. ^ "A speech by HRH The Prince of Wales in Papua New Guinea". 5 November 2012. Retrieved 13 October 2021.
  26. ^ a b c Royal visits
  27. ^ The Telegraph (19 September 2012). "Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall to make Australian visit". The Telegraph. Retrieved 21 September 2012.

External links[edit]