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Aussie PM: Let’s drop the monarchy after the Queen goes

With close-fought elections coming up on Saturday, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has proposed that the country do away with it’s recognition of the British monarchy, but only after the reign of Queen Elizabeth ends:  "What I would like to see as the prime minister is that we work our way through to an agreement ...

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With close-fought elections coming up on Saturday, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has proposed that the country do away with it’s recognition of the British monarchy, but only after the reign of Queen Elizabeth ends: 

"What I would like to see as the prime minister is that we work our way through to an agreement on a republic. But I think the appropriate time for this nation to be a republic will be when we see the monarch change."

Ms Gillard added that she obviously wanted to see Queen Elizabeth live a long and happy life.

"Having watched her mother, there’s every chance that she will," she said.

Gillard’s opponent Tony Abbot is a staunch monarchist. Australians voted against a referendum to replace the monarchy with a president in 1999. Obviously Gillard meant her comments as a gesture of respect to the Queen, but I’m not sure if referring to her eventual demise was the right way to go about it. 

Gillard’s suggestion does raise an interesting question about the future of European monarchy though. The current generation of Western European monarchs, while excercising no political power, are accorded a certain amount of public respect largely because they’ve been around for decades. (Juan Carlos I of Spain: 34 years, Beatrix of the Netherlands: 30 years, Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden: 36 years, Elizabeth II of Britain: 58 years) It seems likely that their offsping may have a much harder time convincing their subjects of their continued relevance in today’s Europe. That case might be even harder for Prince Charles and Prince William after him, who will technically and anachronistically be the heads of state for 16 independent countries.

 Twitter: @joshuakeating

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