The former PM of Australia says it is time for the country to be a republic after Queen Elizabeth's reign ends

By Simon Perry
March 10, 2021 02:14 PM
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Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's revealing interview with Oprah Winfrey is having ramifications across the world.

The Duke and Duchess's sit-down is spurring debate about ditching the monarchy in countries that have Queen Elizabeth as their head of state.

In Australia, former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull — a well-known skeptic of the monarchy — said the time was looming for a change.

"Our head of state should be an Australian citizen, should be one of us, not the Queen or King of the United Kingdom," Turnbull told ABC TV on Tuesday, The Guardian reports.

"We should be so proud of our country and our fellow countrymen and women that we should say only an Australian should be eligible to be our head of state. Only an Australian is eligible to be our prime minister, so why should it be any different?" he continued.

Oprah With Meghan And Harry
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle during their interview with Oprah Winfrey on CBS.
| Credit: CBS/Youtube

Turnbull added that the Queen was still immensely popular, and that there are "frankly . . . more Elizabethans than there are monarchists," in his country. But when Prince Charles takes the throne, it will be time for a change.

"After the end of the Queen's reign, that is the time for us to say – OK, we've passed that watershed and do we really want to have whoever happens to be head of state, the King or Queen of the U.K., automatically our head of state?" Turnbull told ABC TV.

Australia is a leading country of the Commonwealth, which is made up of 54 nations that either have the Queen, 94, as head of state or are closely linked to the U.K. The last time there was a referendum on the issue was in 1999 – and it was rejected, with the "no vote" getting around 54 percent. In January, only a third of Australians favored a republic.

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Queen Elizabeth ll, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on the balcony of Buckingham Palace
| Credit: Anwar Hussein/WireImage

Apart from the U.K., the Queen is head of state of 15 countries, including Canada, New Zealand and Australia.

One of the others, Barbados, will become a republic in November this year.

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In New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacina Ardern said that she doesn't detect "an appetite from New Zealanders for significant change to our constitutional arrangements," The Times reported on Wednesday.

Australia's current Prime Minister Scott Morrison – who replaced Turnbull in 2018 – has not commented on the Oprah interview.