Buckingham Palace feared increasing ‘non-British’ immigrants would doom the monarchy in Australia

Wonder whether they had similar fears for Canada (but Canada never had referendums on the monarchy):

Buckingham Palace feared the monarchy would collapse in Australia because of an influx of postwar ‘non-British’ immigrants, newly released correspondence reveals.

Letters exchanged between Governor-General Sir John Kerr and the Queen’s private secretary Sir Martin Charteris were finally released today after four decades.

Along with providing bombshell revelations on Sir John’s decision to dismiss Gough Whitlam’s government in 1975, they reveal how the Palace saw Australia.

Sir Martin believed that without more frequent visits from The Queen and other royals, a more multicultural country would ditch the monarchy.

A year after the dismissal, Sir John wrote to Sir Martin – by then his frequent pen pal – to voice his concerns about the monarchy’s future in Australia.

‘I have been musing about the monarchy as an institution in our part of the world’, he wrote on December 19, 1976.

‘In 1947, 98 per cent [of Australians] were of British stock. By the 1971 census only 88 per cent were so derived.’

Sir John noted that most of these non-British immigrants were Italians, Greeks, Yugoslavs and Germans – but there were many other nationalities.

‘Our immigrants come from over one hundred countries including, for example, Egypt and Turkey, Lebanon and other Arab countries.

‘Increasingly, but not yet significantly, we have Asians. Most of these, and most who have come from Europe are from republics and are not directly acquainted with monarchy.’

A year after the dismissal, Sir John wrote to Sir Martin - by now his frequent penpal - with concerns about the monarchy's future in Australia

A year after the dismissal, Sir John wrote to Sir Martin – by now his frequent penpal – with concerns about the monarchy’s future in Australia

Sir Martin replied that the 'increasing non-British element in Australia’s ethnic make up' had 'significant ramifications for the monarchy

Sir Martin replied that the ‘increasing non-British element in Australia’s ethnic make up’ had ‘significant ramifications for the monarchy

Sir Martin replied that the ‘increasing non-British element in Australia’s ethnic make up’ had ‘significant’ ramifications for the monarchy.

‘It is one of the reasons why the monarchy in Australia could not, I believe, long remain a reality without more frequent visits by the Sovereign than was customary in the first half of this century,’ he wrote.

‘The days when The Sovereign of Australia could remain in London, and still remain acceptable are, I think, long past; new immigrants, changing values… would all make this impossible, as well, of course as being wholly undesirable.’

In other letters, the pair discussed movements campaigning for an Australian republic but believed they were formed by a small number of ‘left-wing’ rabble rousers.

Australia held a referendum in November 1999 on whether the country should become a republic, but it was comfortably defeated.

The 211 letters, thousands of pages in all, contain many revelations about the lead-up to and aftermath of the dismissal as Sir John wrestled with what to do.

Also revealed is Mr Whitlam’s ‘rage’ at being ousted and the extent of the backlash against Sir John.

The letters finally showed that the Queen did not order Sir John to dismiss Mr Whitlam.

It has long been speculated that Her Majesty may have undermined Australia’s independence by trying to influence Sir John’s decision.

The letters appear to indicate that the Queen and Sir John did not communicate, at least not directly, and Kerr’s correspondence was only with Sir Martin.

Palace allies battled for decades to keep the documents – which also include correspondence from Her Majesty’s then-private secretary, Martin Charteris – secret, with the National Archives of Australia refusing to release them to the public.

The letters had been deemed personal communication by both the National Archives of Australia and the Federal Court, which meant the earliest they could be released was 2027, and only then with the Queen’s permission.

But the High Court bench earlier this year ruled the letters were property of the Commonwealth and part of the public record, and so must be released.

Source: Buckingham Palace feared increasing ‘non-British’ immigrants would doom the monarchy in Australia

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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