Former Australian PM calls for constitutional change over Meghan and Harry interview

‘Clearly unhappy’ royal family means monarch should not automatically be Australia’s head of state, says Malcolm Turnbull

Sam Hancock
Tuesday 09 March 2021 14:11
Prince Charles swiftly moved on after reporter asks him about Meghan & Harry interview

Allegations brought by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex against the royal family prove Australia should become a republic, the country’s former prime minister has claimed.

Malcolm Turnbull, who met the couple in 2018 when he held office, said he has long opposed the current system in which Britain’s monarch automatically becomes Australia’s head of state.

Describing the family as “clearly unhappy”, Mr Turnbull told Australian Broadcasting Corp on Tuesday: “After the end of the Queen’s reign, that is the time for us to say, ‘Ok, we’ve passed that watershed. Do we really want to have whoever happens to be the king or queen of the UK automatically our head of state?’”

“It all seems very sad,” he added, talking about Harry and Meghan’s interview with Oprah Winfrey which aired in the UK on Monday night.

:: Follow Harry and Meghan Oprah interview live: Latest news and updates

Before Mr Turnbull became prime minister he was chairman of the Australian Republican Movement between 1993 and 2000, which fought for the country’s right to select an Australian citizen as its head of state.

A referendum on republicanism was defeated in 1999 but opinion polls at the time showed that most Australians believed their country should be led by someone born there.

Australia’s current prime minister, Scott Morrison, has made no comment on Harry and Meghan’s interview yet.

The former senior royals explained to Mrs Winfrey their decision to leave “the institution”, saying they were “let down” by Buckingham Palace whose officials allegedly refused to seek help for Meghan when she became “suicidal” due to her treatment by the British tabloids.

The prince also revealed there were conversations surrounding “how dark skinned” his and Meghan’s son, Archie, would be when he was born. When pressed by Mrs Winfrey, Harry said he would not reveal who had made the remarks – though the former chat show host later confirmed Harry told her off camera it was neither the Queen nor Prince Philip.

Buckingham Palace was expected to respond on Tuesday to the claims of racism and lack of support.

While Boris Johnson has refused to comment on the fallout from the tell-all interview, the Labour Party has urged the monarchy to make a statement, saying “people expect” a response.

Meanwhile, Prince Charles was moved on by his entourage when asked by a reporter on Tuesday what he thought of his son and daughter-in-law’s interview.

The future king was visiting a pop-up vaccination clinic in Brent Cross, London, in his first public appearance since the TV special aired.

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