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With Prince Charles visiting our shores, I thought this would be an opportune moment to make a few things clear to him.
Dear Prince Charles,
Welcome to Australia! We welcome the two of you to Australia as distinguished and friendly visitors.
You must understand however that so many of us can‘t imagine that one day, you Prince Charles, could be the King of Australia.
We are a young and independent country and home to an ancient culture. I am sure you understand that we need to have our own Head of State, not to “borrow” it from another country.
No need to tell you that times have changed. Whilst we cherish the friendship with Great Britain, the great majority of us have little or no connection to the old country.
There was a time when Australia was so close to the UK, that when Prime Minister Attlee asked Prime Minister Menzies if it was possible to use our country to test their atomic bombs, Menzies said yes straight away without even consulting Cabinet.
We had an Australian Prime Minister who would have been happier to be British rather than being an Australian.
“I did but see her passing by, and yet I love her ’til I die.”
This is what he said to your mother, Queen Elizabeth.
Dear Charles, can you envisage a modern Australian Prime Minister saying something like that these days? Well, maybe there are still exceptions like former Prime Minister Tony Abbott who, when he was sworn to his high office, chose to swear alliance to the Queen and her heirs and successors and not to Australia and its people.
A very disappointing throwback to the past. For his refusal to swear allegiance to Australia and the Australian people, in other times, he could have been charged with treason.
We do indeed consider Great Britain a friendly country with still close ties to Australia, but we are now an independent and modern nation, with nearly 200 different ethnic groups, a nation that has finally understood that our future lies in this part of the world. It lies in our region, in Asia.
I am sure that you agree that we are entitled to have our own Head of State. An Australian who lives amongst us and shares all our achievements, our worries, our sorrows.
Our present Governor, His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove, like his predecessor, the Honourable Quentin Bryce, would have made an excellent Ceremonial Head of State of an Australian Republic. They would represent us and the Australian nation anywhere they went.
Instead, if you, Prince Charles, were our Head of State, you would represent first Great Britain, anywhere you went.
Yes indeed, you would visit us occasionally and I am sure you understand that your occasional visits will always be welcomed. You have been a friend and you will always be our friend, but we need to stand up and be our own.
I am sure you also understand that the stronger Republican sentiments will grow in Australia, the greatest number of invitations will be accepted by you and other members of the Royal family.
Rather sad, don’t you think?
The change to an Australian Republic is an issue we as Australians need to resolve on our own, but I thought it was important for you to know that many of us, dare I say the majority, want to see our country become a Republic.
Will always be happy to welcome you as a friend but not as our future Head of State.
Franca Arena A.M.
Franca Arena migrated on her own to Australia nearly 60 years ago. She was 21 years old.
She loves Australia deeply and hopes that before she dies, she will see the birth of the Australian Republic.