The time for NZ to go republic is now
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.
Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, visit this month.