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As royals visit Australia, calls for a republic return



Australia’s prime minister has said he has no plans to hold a referendum on the country becoming a republic, and that he still supports the country’s links with the British monarchy.

Scott Morrison was asked about the issue as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex attended the opening of an enhanced Anzac Memorial in Sydney’s Hyde Park, honouring Australia’s servicemen and women.

He said: “I don’t support a change as the prime minister, but all Australians have different views on this.

“Look, I think what you’ve seen with the reception for the Duke and Duchess has been just tremendous, has just been one, big warm embrace and that’s how it should be and that’s how I think it’ll always be with every visiting royal to Australia.”

Asked if he thought there will be another referendum on a republic, he added: “I’m certainly not planning one, that’s not my plan.”

As the Duke and Duchess of Sussex continue their tour of Australia, the republican movement says the demand to cut the apron strings from the British monarchy is growing.

Harry and Meghan are currently visiting the Commonwealth realm on behalf of the Queen, who has been Australia’s head of state since 1952.

The Queen was the first-ever British monarch to visit the country 65 years ago.

Michelle Clark, the vice chairwoman of the Australian Republic Movement, told Sky News she welcomes the couple’s visit and even watched their wedding on television, but she believes people in Australia deserve a choice about who should be their head of state.

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attend the Official opening of ANZAC Memorial in Hyde Park, on October 20, 2018 in Sydney, Australia


Harry and Meghan tour Anzac memorial

She said: “We’re hearing from all of our supporters which are growing in numbers and growing in voice that the time has come to cut the apron strings if you like and move away and become an independent country with an Australian in the top job.”

On Friday, Prince Harry was followed by Australian news helicopters and TV cameras as he climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

About 134m above Sydney Harbour, he was joined at the top of the bridge by Mr Morrison to raise a flag to celebrate the arrival of the Invictus Games in the city.

The event officially gets under way on Saturday night with the opening ceremony at the Sydney Opera House.

Abolishing the monarchy is a big political talking point in Australia, with politicians using it as a way to attract votes, much more than in the UK.

Polls suggest the appetite for a republic have fallen since a failed referendum in 1999.

But Bill Shorten, the leader of the main opposition party, has promised another vote if his Labor Party gets into power.

In May this year, a poll among Australians named Prince Harry as their favourite royal ahead of Prince William, the Queen and Prince Charles, who would be their future king.

There does appear to be a reluctance to hold a referendum on abolishing the monarchy while the Queen is still alive.

Earlier in the day Harry and Meghan hit Bondi beach to embrace Aussie life.

They met up with a group called One Wave who are helping to “turn the tide” in the campaign to raise awareness of mental illness.

Duke and duchess of Sussex visit Bondi Beach


Barefoot on the beach! Harry and Meghan hit Bondi

They heard about a weekly event called “Fluro Friday” where they use surfing and yoga as a way to relax and share their problems.

Charlotte Connell, who was there with her two-year-old son Finn, said Meghan had told the group she had been up at 4.30am doing yoga despite the jet lag.

Joel Pilgrim, a mental health occupational therapist who set up the Waves of Wellness Foundation, said Prince Harry told them “reaching out for help is not a weakness, it’s a strength”.

He added: “Having them as a part of today, and being able to demonstrate that the monarchy is still part of Australia, they’re playing a really special role in tapping into what we’re doing on the ground and that’s special.”

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