The time for NZ to go repub­lic is now

Sunday Star-Times - - NEWS - Jonathan Milne Adi­to­rial

Prince Harry and I, we go way back. Be­fore he was even a twin­kle in his dad’s eye, I waited pa­tiently by the side of Jack­son St, Pe­tone, for Charles and Diana to sweep by in their big black Rolls-Royce. That was 1983.

In 2005, his brother Wil­liam popped around to watch the Bri­tish and Ir­ish Lions train in Welling­ton, though we didn’t ac­tu­ally have a chance to chat.

Over the next few years. Harry and I lived in the same city, though I was in Brix­ton and we were both busy with work so, well . . . not much op­por­tu­nity to talk there ei­ther.

But he and his fam­ily have al­ways oc­cu­pied my thoughts – per­haps un­healthily so. It wor­ries me that he doesn’t seem to talk or write as much about me, as I do about him.

I watched as he at­tended his cousin Eu­ge­nie’s wed­ding at Wind­sor Cas­tle this week­end; I look for­ward to the ar­rival of Harry and his wife Meghan this month. The kids and I will be happy to pick them up from Auck­land air­port, if they need a lift into town. We’ve got a 7-seater peo­ple-mover.

If the chance presents, I’ll ask him what he thinks about New Zealan­ders choos­ing their own head of state, Pa¯keha¯ or Ma¯ori or Pasi­fika or what­ever, never mind their re­li­gion, never mind their gen­der.

Former Angli­can Arch­bishop Sir Paul Reeves, who led Charles and Diana in prayer for New Zealand’s lead­er­ship in 1983, went on to rep­re­sent the Queen as Gover­norGen­eral. He later told me that the Queen should be re­placed by a New Zealand head of state.

All Black-turned-broad­caster Chris Laid­law talked to Charles about New Zealand be­com­ing a repub­lic, too, at a din­ner in 1997. Charles said it would be a re­lief to re­move the ‘‘aw­ful am­bi­gu­ity’’.

An­other former Gover­norGen­eral, Dame Cather­ine Tizard, asked the Queen the same ques­tion. Dame Cath later told me the Queen had al­ways be­lieved it was New Zealand’s de­ci­sion to make.

On this ques­tion, it seems, the royal fam­ily have done a bit of think­ing. In a new bi­og­ra­phy of the Queen, au­thor Robert Hard­man re­veals she came to one firm con­clu­sion. In the event of this or any other realm opt­ing to be­come a repub­lic, they should get on with it.

As has so of­ten been the case, the Queen is ab­so­lutely right.

New Zealand should go now. It’s no longer ac­cept­able that our head of state’s al­le­giance is first and fore­most to an­other na­tion, nearly 20,000km away.

It’s no longer ac­cept­able that our head of state’s suc­ces­sion gives pref­er­ence to men over women, Angli­cans over Catholics, English peers over hard­work­ing Ki­wis.

In fact, it’s no longer ac­cept­able that our head of state is cho­sen by suc­ces­sion at all, when we strongly be­lieve in merit.

It some­times seems the roy­als have given more thought to this than we have. They know how ridicu­lous it is for New Zealan­ders to sing ‘‘long to reign over us’’, when they visit.

If you have a chance, just ask Harry.

AP

Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sus­sex, visit this month.

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