Charles takes message Down Under: Prince of Wales visit emphasises benefits of monarchy as Keating insists republic is inevitable

THE Prince of Wales arrived in Australia last night as the Prime Minister, Paul Keating, insisted that Australia remained firmly on the path to a republic.

'I think as sure as I stand here Australia will become a republic,' Mr Keating told reporters. 'It's not a matter of if but when and I think that the royal family probably comprehends that.'

Over the next 12 days, Prince Charles will come under pressure to enter the republican debate from the ordinary Australians he meets on his travels through New South Wales, Tasmania, Western Australia and Queensland. He is due to make a speech in Sydney tomorrow to mark Australia Day, the anniversary of British colonisation 206 years ago.

Mr Keating has nominated Australia Day in 2001 as the target date for a republican referendum. But Prince Charles's mission is apparently designed to steer attention away from republicanism and to restore the standing of the monarchy, undermined in Australia by a vigorous republican debate which Mr Keating launched two years ago, and by scandals in the royal family.

Prince Charles will be followed by a British media contingent of 42 on his first Australian tour since his separation from the Princess of Wales. The Australian media, and Buckingham Palace, will be watching the visit closely for signs of the Prince's impact on the republican movement.

The Prince's itinerary complies with his wishes that it embrace Australian youth, Aborigines, disadvantaged people, environmental restoration, health and ethnic groups. The formal receptions of previous visits, attended by establishment figures, have gone.

Prince Charles may take heart from the latest opinion poll on republicanism, published last month in Time, that showed support for the monarchy had increased 10 points to 48 per cent. Australians for Constitutional Monarchy, a group of prominent figures defending the Crown, argue that this shows Australians are having second thoughts about ditching the Queen.

The Australian Republican Movement sees it differently. Andrew Johnson, a movement spokesman, said yesterday: 'There have been nine major polls in the past year, and we have won them all except this one. This visit seems to be more relevant to Britain than it does to Australia, where the cult of the monarch is rapidly waning.' He said the republican movement had surveyed the youth wings of all Australian political parties and 15 student leaders, all of whom supported a republic.

Having broken the ice by explaining his republican policies to the Queen at Balmoral last September, Mr Keating is likely to feel more relaxed during his meetings with Prince Charles. The two men share a strong interest in architecture, and Mr Keating has invited the Prince to attend a meeting on Friday of the Task Force on Urban Design, which he established last year.

Asked by British journalists in Sydney yesterday if he was excited by the impending royal visit, Mr Keating replied: 'Not half as excited as you seem to be.'

(Photograph omitted)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Savvy Media Ltd: Media Sales executive - Crawley

£25k + commission + benefits: Savvy Media Ltd: Find a job you love and never h...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Solicitor NQ+ Oxford

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CORPORATE - Corporate Solicitor NQ+ An excelle...

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible