King Charles III has come under growing pressure from republicans in the Commonwealth since succeeding his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, to the throne. Charles, who oversaw Barbados severing ties with the British Crown as the then Prince of Wales last November, could even face a challenge in Australia.
Australia previously held a referendum on whether to become a republic in 1999 when voters decisively favoured maintaining its position as a constitutional monarchy.
However, footage of protesters in Melbourne chanting “abolish the monarchy” and opinion polls indicating support for the British Royal Family had reached new highs appears to suggest that Australians remain divided as to whether to alter their constitution.
Sandy Biar, CEO of the Australian Republican Movement (ARM), claimed surveys which suggested support for the Firm was teetering towards 60 percent were a “high water-mark” for monarchists.
He told Express.co.uk: “It’s quite unsurprising, that during a period of mourning and wall-to-wall coverage we would see a small increase in support for the monarchy.
“However, this is a high watermark for the monarchy in Australia.
“The real test will be in the years to come as a balanced conversation emerges.”
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Mr Biar also claimed: “Polls already show that a majority of young Australians want to see Australia become a republic, and that the majority of Australians overall disapprove of Charles as King.
“The idea of a born-to-rule Head of State has no place in our Australian democracy.
“It’s now time that as a nation, we had a serious discussion about our future and why we should be an independent nation with our own Head of State.”
However, in what could raise eyebrows for monarchists, Mr Biar suggested the ARM was “looking forward to working” with Anthony Albanese’s assistant minister for the republic, after New South Wales Senator Matt Thistlethwaite was appointed to the post in June.
Mr Albanese, himself a republican, had recently claimed now was not the time to consider holding a poll on such constitutional matters.
Albanese told ITV: “Well that’s a discussion for another time and that’s a debate for Australians to have.”
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He also indicated that his plans to hold a referendum on Australia becoming a republic had been suspended for at least three years.
But concern about Mr Albanese’s Government in Canberra appears to have reached monarchist ranks.
Philip Benwell, chairman of the Australian Monarchist League (AML), even claimed Mr Albanese had “misled” voters ahead of his victory over ex-Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in May.
He told Express.co.uk: “We ourselves have good reason not to trust the Albanese Government.
“They have already misled the people by inferring that there would be no move towards a republic in the first term of a Labor Government and yet one of the first actions of the Prime Minister was to appoint an assistant minister for the republic.
“If there was to be no move for three years, why make this appointment now?”
Mr Benwell also revealed that the AML is preparing to face whatever challenges may follow and has appointed Eric Abetz, who previously served as Employment Minister under Australia’s unrepentant royalist former premier Tony Abbott, as its campaign chairman.
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However, Mr Benwell disagreed with Mr Biar about the public mood Down Under.
He claimed: “Most people in Australia value our system of governance and particularly after the authoritarian nature in which the federal and state governments acted during the recent pandemic, would not trust politicians not to undermine our democracy with their plans for a republic.”
Echoing the findings of the recent Roy Morgan opinion poll, Mr Benwell added: “We believe that if a referendum is held, it will be an even greater defeat for a republic than in 1999.”
The next Australian test for the Royal Family looks likely to come when Prince William and Kate Middleton visit.
Mr Albanese suggested a visit by the new Prince and Princess of Wales could be on the cards as “preliminary discussions” were underway.
However, the last time the Cambridges’ headed Down Under in 2014, republicans were dealt a major blow after the couple’s eldest child Prince George was described as a “republican slayer” when subsequent opinion polls indicated support for the Firm had reached its highest levels in decades.
Express.co.uk has approached Mr Albanese’s office for comment.