Bombshell Harry and Meghan interview reignites republic debate

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with their son Prince George arrive at Chapel Royal in St James's Palace, ahead of the christening of the three month-old Prince George of Cambridge by the Archbishop of Canterbury in central London.

Around 1.37 million Australians watched Oprah Winfrey’s bombshell interview with Harry and Meghan on Monday night, and the racism row that has engulfed the royals has reignited the republic debate in Australia.

Meghan told Winfrey that when she was first pregnant with her first child, there were “concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born”.

“They didn’t want him to be a prince or princess, not knowing what the gender would be, which would be different from protocol, and that he wasn’t going to receive security,” said Meghan.

“In those months when I was pregnant, all around this same time, so we have in tandem the conversation of, ‘you won’t be given security, not going to be given a title’, and also concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born.”

Buckingham Palace released a statement on Wednesday morning in response to the allegations aired during the Oprah interview.

“The whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan,” the statement read.

“The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning. Whilst some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately.

“Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved family members.”

ABC presenter Michael Rowland on Tuesday tweeted ‘Who’s up for a republic once the Queen relinquishes the throne?’ and former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull was quick to reply.

“You bet. Australia’s head of state should be an Australian. First a plebiscite on how to choose the President (direct election vs bipartisan parliamentary vote). Second the chosen model in a constitutional referendum,” he tweeted.

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Shortly after, Mr Turnbull, former head of the Australian Republican Movement, appeared on ABC News Breakfast to explain his position further.

“Our head of state should be an Australian citizen, should be one of us. Not the queen or king of the United Kingdom,” he explained.

“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?”

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Mr Turnbull admitted that putting forward a new referendum on the issue would be difficult while Queen Elizabeth II was still on the throne, but suggested that after her reign ended it could be time to revisit the issue.

“I don’t think that the mood is there today,” he said. “My view in 1999 was that if we voted no to the republic, we wouldn’t come back to the issue until after the end of the Queen’s reign.

“I think the next timing will be that huge watershed when the Queen’s reign ends, whether she dies or abdicates.

“She’s been an extraordinary head of state, and I think, frankly, in Australia, there are more Elizabethans than there are monarchists.

“After the end of Queen’s reign, that is the time for us to say – okay, 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 UK, automatically our head of state?”

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Mr Turnbull said that lesson had been learnt since the last referendum failed in 1999, explaining that it was important to ascertain how Australia wanted to replace the head of state before moving to a binding referendum.

“What went wrong in 1999 in the referendum was really that we, in the republican movement, ended up fighting on two fronts,” Mr Turnbull said.

“We had, on the one hand, the monarchists who said, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ And on the other side, we had people who wanted to elect the president by direct election, saying, utterly dishonestly, I might add, ‘Vote no to this form of a republic and you’ll have another chance in a few years’ time to vote for a directly elected president.’

“That was always a lie. It was a classic case of letting the perfect be the enemy of the good, andthat’s the real reason why we lost.

“What we’ve got to do is have the debate about how to elect the president first.

“Then once the people have made up their mind on that, then incorporate that mode of election into the constitutional amendments that you then put up in the formal referendum that will result, if it’s passed, in changing the constitution.”

Did your watch the interview with Harry and Meghan on Monday? What did you think? Should Australia become a republic when the current Queen’s reign ends?

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Written by Ben Hocking

Ben Hocking is a skilled writer and editor with interests and expertise in politics, government, Centrelink, finance, health, retirement income, superannuation, Wordle and sports.

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