Leaders of the Australian push to ditch the monarchy want the prime minister to remain silent when guests at King Charles’ coronation are invited to pledge allegiance to the new monarch.
For the first time, Australians and citizens of other Commonwealth nations will be invited to swear allegiance to the King and raise “a chorus of millions of voices” supporting “their undoubted King, defender of all”.
Albanese, who is travelling to London this weekend to attend the coronation with other dignitaries, is being urged by the Australian Republic Movement to opt out of the oath and instead commit himself to a separate oath that rejects the monarchy.
The group’s co-chair, activist and former Socceroo Craig Foster, said: “Australians don’t bow to any King. We don’t take a knee for anyone. We’re a society of equals.”
“We shouldn’t be expected to grovel before a King, or pledge obedience and neither should our members of parliament.”
Foster, who sees the coronation as an opportunity to grow support for an Australian head of state, has proposed a different pledge that the republic body is encouraging Australians to recite.
“I swear that my loyalty is to the Australian people and Australian values of equality, democracy and meritocracy,” it says. “I look forward to the day when Australia’s head of state is also bound to swear loyalty to us, rather than the other way around.”
King Charles introduced a “Homage of the People” as an attempt to make the coronation less elitist. It replaces the act of hereditary peers kneeling to “pay homage” before touching the crown and kissing the monarch’s right cheek.
Asked on Monday whether he would encourage Australians to pledge allegiance to the new King, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese – a republican – did not directly answer the question. Instead, he said he would like to see Charles visit Australia, and noted MPs swear allegiance to the crown when first elected. He was not asked whether he would pledge allegiance himself.
“I look forward, later tonight after I visit Darwin, I’ll be travelling to London to represent Australia at the Coronation. That’s an important event. And it’s important that Australia be represented,” Albanese said.
Australian Monarchist League chairman Eric Abetz, a former Liberal senator, said the pledge was similar to occasions when people turned lights off for earth hour, or when neighbours gathered around their driveways when ANZAC Day ceremonies could not be held during the pandemic.
“It’s a wonderful thing to do,” he said. “It’s a way of expressing our inclusion in what is a very historic moment when literally billions will be watching.”
Greens leader Adam Bandt disagreed, arguing the verbal pledge was a “strained attempt to get people to connect with a head of state they didn’t get to choose” that would remind Australians of the need for a republic and a treaty with Indigenous Australians.
Liberal MP Russel Broadbent, a republican, said the oath was anachronistic and he would not be taking part. “It’s just not what Australians do, we don’t do that sort of stuff. There may be some that do that, and that’s up to them, but it’s not what we do,” he said.
Labor MP Julian Hill said of the swearing of allegiance: “Well I’m sure there will be a lot of swearing.”
A January poll conducted by Resolve Strategic showed 39 per cent of respondents supported Australia becoming a republic while 31 per cent opposed it, with the remainder undecided.
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