Tony Abbott has been ridiculed after it was announced that Prince Philip would be made a knight of Australia.
Australia's prime minister said that the Queen had accepted his recommendation that her husband receive the country’s highest honour on Australia Day – the national holiday which marks the arrival of British settlers in the 18th Century.
Mr Abbott said that he had awarded the honour to the Duke of Edinburgh because he wanted to recognise his contribution to Australia during the Queen’s 62-year reign.
At a national flag-raising and citizenship ceremony in Canberra he said that the monarchy had been an important part of Australia’s life since 1788.
"Prince Philip has been a great servant of Australia," he said. "I’m just really pleased that in his 90s, towards the end of a life of service and duty, we in this country are able to properly acknowledge what he’s done for us."
The move prompted criticism from colleagues and on social media, with many questioning whether Mr Abbott had confused Australia Day with April Fool’s.
ABC reported that one minister had said that the prime minister had started the year badly.
"There is an old saying that when you are in a hole you should stop digging," they said.
"Well, we just punched through the earth’s crust."
Conservative chief minister of the northern territory, Adam Giles, voiced his anger and said that he wondered whether he had woken up on April Fool’s Day after reading the reports..
"It's Australia Day," he said. "We're not a bunch of tossers, let's get it right."
Former prime minister Bob Hawke abolished the titles of knighthood and damehood in 1986, but were reintroduced by Mr Abbott last year.
Mr Abbott said: "Prince Philip’s long life of service and dedication should be honoured by Australia."
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