Monarchy of Australia

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The Monarchy of Australia is a form of government in which a hereditary monarch is the sovereign of Australia according to the rules of the Australian Constitution.

This means that the job of King or Queen of Australia passes down through the Royal Family. When the King or Queen dies, the job passes to their son, daughter or next in line to the throne. As monarch of Australia, they then have ceremonial and constitutional duties as part of the government of Australia. The Governor General of Australia does the work of the monarch for the national Government. State Governors do the work of the monarch for State Governments of Australia.

History[change | change source]

Opening of the first Parliament of Australia in 1901 by the Duke of Cornwall and York (later King George V).

The British First Fleet of convict ships arrived at Sydney in 1788 and New South Wales became a Crown Colony, with King George III of England as its King. The British set up other colonies all around Australia with powerful colonial governors chosen by Britain. From the 1820s, these colonies began to get more and more self-government and from the 1850s they began to become parliamentary democracies, which kept the Kings and Queens of the United Kingdom as their Heads of State, with royal duties done by Colonial Governors who had less and less real power.

In 1901, after a vote, the British colonies of Australia decided to become one country, with a constitutional monarchy with Queen Victoria as the monarch. The Duke of Cornwall and York (later King George V) opened the first Parliament of Australia in 1901 and the Duke and Duchess of York (later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother) opened the first Parliament in Canberra in 1927.

The Balfour Declaration of 1926, changed the situation in the British Empire, so that United Kingdom and the Dominions (like Australia, Canada and New Zealand) were to be seen as equal and independent, but "united by a common allegiance to the Crown". This situation of independent monarchies was confirmed by the Statute of Westminster. The Curtin Labor Government chose Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester (the brother of King George VI), as Governor-General during the Second World War.[1]

Queen Elizabeth II became the first reigning monarch to visit Australia in 1954, greeted by huge crowds across the nation. Her son Prince Charles went to school in Australia in 1967.[2] Her grandson Prince Harry lived in Australia for some of his gap-year in 2003.[3]

The Royal family was very popular for most of the 20th Century - but by the 1990s, some politicians and lots of people wanted Australia to become a republic. In 1999, the country had a referendum to become a republic, but the people chose to keep the Australian monarchy instead of changing to a republic.

The Monarch[change | change source]

At the moment, the monarch of Australia is Queen Elizabeth II. She has the title of Queen of Australia and has reigned since 6 February 1952. She is represented in Australia by the Governor-General.[4][5] The Governor-General does the work of the Queen in Australia and follows the rules of the Australian Constitution. He or she is chosen by the Prime Minister and appointed by the monarch.

In each of the States of Australia, the monarch is represented by a Governor. The Governors are appointed by the Queen after the state premiers tell her their choice.

The Australian monarch is also monarch of fifteen other Commonwealth countries known as Commonwealth realms: including Britain, New Zealand, Canada and Papua New Guinea.

The Governor General[change | change source]

The Governor General is chosen by the Prime Minister and is appointed by the monarch to act as Head of State. The Governor General cannot behave like a politician or member of a political party, but must do the work of the monarch in Australia. The Governor General does things like opening parliament, and giving out awards on Australia Day. After elections, or when a government loses or wins a majority in the Australian House of Representatives, the Governor General is the person who legally decides that the prime minister has the numbers to lead a government.

Some Governor-Generals belonged to the Royal Family and for a long time they all came from Britain, but for many years all Governor Generals have been Australians.

List of Australian Monarchs[change | change source]

No. Portrait Regnal name Reign over the
Commonwealth of Australia
Full name Consort
1 Queen Victoria 1887.jpg Victoria
(1819–1901)
House of Hanover
1 January 1901 22 January 1901 Alexandrina Victoria of Australia none during Australian reign
Governors general:John Hope, 7th Earl of Hopetoun
Prime ministers: Edmund Barton
2 Edward VII in coronation robes.jpg Edward VII
(1841–1910)
House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
22 January 1901 6 May 1910 Albert Edward of Australia Alexandra of Denmark
Governors general:John Hope, 7th Earl of Hopetoun, Hallam Tennyson, 2nd Baron Tennyson, Henry Northcote, 1st Baron Northcote, William Ward, 2nd Earl of Dudley
Prime ministers: Sir Edmund Barton, Alfred Deakin, Chris Watson, George Reid, Andrew Fisher
3 George V of the united Kingdom.jpg George V
(1865–1836)
House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (until 1917)
House of Windsor (after 1917)
6 May 1910 20 January 1936 George Frederick Ernest Albert of Australia Mary of Teck
Governors general:William Ward, 2nd Earl of Dudley, Thomas Denman, 3rd Baron Denman, Sir Ronald Ferguson, Henry Forster, 1st Baron Forster, John Baird, 1st Baron Stonehaven. Sir Isaac Isaacs
Prime ministers: Andrew Fisher, Joseph Cook, Billy Hughes, Stanley Bruce, James Scullin, Joseph Lyons
4 The Duke of Windsor (1945).jpg Edward VIII
(1894–1972)
House of Windsor
20 January 1936 11 December 1936 Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David of Australia none
Governors general: Sir Isaac Alfred Isaacs, Alexander Hore-Ruthven, 1st Earl of Gowrie
Prime ministers: Joseph Lyons
5 King George VI of England, formal photo portrait, circa 1940-1946.jpg George VI
(1895–1952)
House of Windsor
11 December 1936 6 February 1952 Albert Frederick Arthur George of Australia Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon
Governors general: Alexander Hore-Ruthven, 1st Earl of Gowrie, Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, Sir William McKell
Prime ministers: Joseph Lyons, Sir Earle Page, Robert Menzies, Arthur Fadden, John Curtin, Frank Forde, Ben Chifley, Robert Menzies
6 Elizabeth II greets NASA GSFC employees, May 8, 2007 edit.jpg Elizabeth II
(1926–)
House of Windsor
6 February 1952 Present Elizabeth Alexandra Mary of Australia Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
Governors general: Sir William McKell, Sir William Slim, William Morrison, 1st Viscount Dunrossil, William Sidney, 1st Viscount De L'Isle, Richard Casey, Baron Casey, Sir Paul Hasluck, Sir John Kerr, Sir Zelman Cowen, Sir Ninian Stephen, William Hayden, Sir William Deane, Peter Hollingworth, Michael Jeffery, Quentin Bryce
Prime ministers: Sir Robert Menzies, Harold Holt, John McEwen, John Gorton, William McMahon, Gough Whitlam, Malcolm Fraser, Bob Hawke, Paul Keating, John Howard, Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard

References[change | change source]