high­est con­sti­tu­tional of­fice in New Zealand. That just seems unNew Zealand and une­gal­i­tar­ian.’’

Also, he says, the Queen is an aris­to­crat deeply em­bed­ded in a sys­tem of class struc­tures and val­ues that are pro­foundly un­like New Zealand’s. Those dif­fer­ences don’t dis­ap­pear just be­cause world travel is eas­ier.

And mod­ern trans­port doesn’t al­ter the fact that the head of state is only an oc­ca­sional vis­i­tor here – and one who, in her old age, has made it known that she will not visit New Zealand again.

So, yes, says Knight, the in­sti­tu­tion re­ally is bro­ken.

And be­sides, there would be noth­ing iso­la­tion­ist about be­com­ing a repub­lic. THE pres­i­dent of New Zealand’s only repub­lic is a bit of a roy­al­ist, although he’d like to see some­one younger on the throne.

Shearer John Her­lihy, who heads the Repub­lic of Whang­amomona, has no beef with New Zealand re­main­ing a con­sti­tu­tional monar­chy, it’s the au­thor­i­ties closer to home that get his goat.

Thirty years ago the tiny eastern Taranaki town de­clared it­self a repub­lic in protest at the Govern­ment’s de­ci­sion to in­clude it in the Whanganui/Manawatu re­gion.

Her­lihy says he is happy for New Zealand to re­tain its links to the monar­chy.

‘‘One of the nice things is we can be a repub­lic and re­tain our as­so­ci­a­tion with the realm as part of the Com­mon­wealth. Four-fifths of the coun­tries of the Com­mon­wealth are re­publics.’’

We can still in­vite the roy­als here, we can still visit Buck­ing­ham Palace, we can still en­joy royal gos­sip in the mag­a­zines.

You might think a politi­cian would be mad to ques­tion whether New Zealand needs a Queen.

John Key asked whether New Zealand should stick with its colo­nial flag and got a bloody nose.

‘‘When it came to chang­ing a piece of fab­ric, that proved to be

‘‘The Queen is prob­a­bly out­dated her­self, but the young ones are pretty pop­u­lar, you couldn’t say we don’t want them any more. They should miss Char­lie out com­pletely, he’s pretty old-fash­ioned and stuck in his in­cred­i­bly di­vi­sive and very dif­fi­cult,’’ says monar­chist Palmer.

How much more dif­fi­cult would the ar­gu­ment be about ditch­ing the monar­chy?

Knight says the flag de­bate was different, be­cause there was no agreed-upon al­ter­na­tive to the colo­nial in­cum­bent. But there is an easy and fa­mil­iar al­ter­na­tive to the monar­chy, he says.

‘‘In many re­spects we are a de facto repub­lic al­ready. We have a de facto head of state in the gov­er­nor-gen­eral.’’

No im­por­tant politi­cian has se­ri­ously taken up the repub­li­can ar­gu­ment.

How­ever, Prime Min­is­ter Jacinda Ardern told The Times of ways. I think the younger gen­er­a­tion wouldn’t be car­ing too much about the Queen but if it was one of the boys, I’d say it would be pop­u­lar as, that’s my opin­ion.’’

And if Prince Harry or one of the other roy­als wanted to visit the repub­lic, he’d be made very wel­come.

‘‘Last time, he didn’t even call in, the mongrel, he should’ve called in and had a beer or a cup of tea, but he by­passed Whanga com­pletely,’’ he says.

‘‘It would be a real plus or bonus even if he came to Taranaki. Maybe at some stage they will go to the smaller places in­stead of the big cen­tres. There’s a lot of peo­ple who live in the coun­try who would be happy to see him.’’ Lon­don dur­ing the elec­tion cam­paign that she would seek to en­cour­age a na­tional de­bate over cut­ting ties with the royal fam­ily.

‘‘I am a repub­li­can but you will find there are peo­ple in New Zealand who aren’t ac­tively pur­su­ing that change.’’ And nor is she. Asked whether she in­tends to do any­thing con­crete about the monar­chy dur­ing her first term of govern­ment, she replies: ‘‘There is no ap­petite, in the pub­lic form, to make changes and there are no plans to do so.’’

So go­ing repub­li­can is an easy and largely cos­metic change – or a deep and risky one, de­pend­ing on who you be­lieve.

The Queen has made it clear that she’s not go­ing to visit New Zealand again.

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