Waiting to die?
The British monarchy in Australia, New Zealand and Canada, 1991–2016
in Crowns and colonies
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Since the mid nineteenth century, prophecies of constitutional monarchy’s impending demise have far outnumbered the political initiatives taken to remove it. In the sixteen Commonwealth countries that currently retain the Queen as their Head of State, the end of the monarchical connection has repeatedly been pronounced as inevitable, yet the institution’s long-demonstrated capacity for adaptability and re-invention have continually defied predictions of its imminent death. Nonetheless, images of death prevail. The prospect of the death of Queen Elizabeth II has framed much of the public discussion regarding the future of constitutional monarchy, especially in Australia, where many republicans who led the ‘yes’ campaign in Australia’s 1999 referendum seem to have fallen in line with conventional wisdom: the Australian republic must wait for royal rigor mortis to occur. To date, however, there has been no systematic attempt to identify the reasons behind the survival of constitutional monarchy in the former dominions. Comparing the recent experience of New Zealand, Canada and Australia (1990–2014) this chapter explains the reasons behind constitutional monarchy’s extraordinary longevity in all three countries. While the chapter focuses predominantly on Australia, the only country to have held a referendum on the question of a republic, it also points to the increasing convergence of arguments in all three countries for the removal of constitutional monarchy. The chapter argues that the traditional arguments that once sustained constitutional monarchy no longer hold sway. The most powerful argument for its retention is its irrelevance.

Crowns and colonies

European monarchies and overseas empires


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