Anthony Albanese is being praised for a “crucial” act at the coronation of King Charles III.
The Australian Prime Minister, who is returning from the United Kingdom after joining other Commonwealth leaders at Saturday’s historic coronation, pledged allegiance to our new King despite being a staunch republican.
Mr Albanese has described the coronation as a “historic event of enormous significance” and said it was entirely appropriate he attend and pledge allegiance to the King.
King Charles III is the head of the Commonwealth, including Australia. Picture: Odd Andersen/AFP.
And on Sunday morning Treasurer Jim Chalmers said the Labor leader made the right call in following through on the pledge despite his personal stance on the monarchy and external pressures.
“This was an important day and it’s obviously crucial that the prime minister attend and pledge allegiance – I think that’s what people expect,” Dr Chalmers told ABC’s Insiders program on Sunday morning.
Fellow republicans had urged Mr Albanese to remain silent during the oath, including co-chair of the Australian Republic Movement, ex-footballer Craig Foster.
“We shouldn’t be expected to grovel before a King, or pledge obedience and neither should our members of parliament,” he said.
“A head of state should pledge their loyalty us, not the other way round. We need an anti-pledge.”
Treasurer Jim Chalmers said Mr Albanese made the “right call” at the coronation. Picture: Dan Peled / NCA NewswireAustralian Republic Movement co-chair disagreeass. Picture: Australian/Gary RamageLeaders had to swear allegiance to the new King Charles III. Picture: Richard Pohle/POOL/AFP.
On Friday, before the coronation, Mr Albanese told the ABC despite committing to pledging the oath, he had not changed his position on Australia becoming a republic.
“I haven’t changed my position on that and I’ve made that very clear. I want to see an Australian as Australia’s head of state,” he told the national broadcaster.
“That doesn’t mean that you cannot have respect for the institution, which is the system of government that we have.”
Australia held a referendum in 1999 on becoming a republic with 55% of voters opposed. Polls in recent years have shown varying support for a republic, with most showing a small majority of Australians in favour.
Mr Albanese shared a gallery of photos from the Coronation on celebrations, saying it was “an honour to represent Australia at the Coronation of King Charles III”
There will be a number of events in Australia to commemorate the coronation, including a 21-gun salute by Australia’s Federation Guard at the forecourt of Parliament House in Canberra at 3pm on Sunday, followed by a fly-past from the Royal Australian Air Force.
However other landmarks, including Sydney’s famous Harbour Bridge and Opera House, will be notably blank for the weekend, a decision that has been slammed by monarchists.
Despite it becoming customary for Australia to recognise world events by lighting up the sails of the Sydney Opera House, the NSW Labor government decided to snub King Charles III and the big day – reportedly because of the costs involved.
It came as a surprise to monarchists after, months earlier, the visage of the late Queen Elizabeth II was projected onto the sails as Australians mourned Her Majesty’s passing.
But the NSW government’s cost-cutting move to cancel a visual coronation commemoration was slammed by the Australian Monarchist League.
“From now on, should taxpayer funds ever be used to light up buildings, it will prove that this decision was based on (Premier Chris Minns’) republican sympathies and not on cost,” national chairman Philip Benwell said in a statement.
The Opera House sails were lit up with the picture of Queen Elizebeth II to commemorate her life, but there will be no tribute to King Charles III. Picture: Muhammad Farooq/AFP.
However, a garden reception will be held in Sydney at Government House for invited guests, work performances in the gardens by the NSW Corrective Services Big Band to celebrate the coronation weekend.
Meanwhile, the coronation was not a happy occasion for some, including independent Senator Lidia Thorpe, ABC journalist Stan Grant, and a host of First Nations people and allies.
Senator Thorpe spoke at an Sovereign Tea Party in Melbourne on Saturday, and described the day as “painful” for First Nations Australians and “colonised people around the world”.
“The British Empire proudly displays the wealth it has stolen from us while our people continue to suffer and die at the hands of a colonial system that was violently imposed on us,” she said, AAP reports.
Ms Thorpe was among signatories from 12 colonised countries who, in a letter, have called on the new King to acknowledge the genocides sparked by the British Empire’s invasions and “substantiate” recent statements from royal family members expressing regret for their historic links to slavery.
Today I join representatives from 12 Commonwealth countries (with the King as head of state) in calling on the new king to recognise British acts of genocide, issue a formal apology to all First Nations and Indigenous peoples impacted by British colonisation,
— Senator Lidia Thorpe (@SenatorThorpe) May 4, 2023
ABC journalist Stan Grant also split audiences ahead of the coronation with an hour-long program discussing the monarchy, its impact on Indigenous people, and its relevance “in 2023”.
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“The Crown is not above politics to us, because the symbol of that Crown was, it represented the invasion, the theft of land, and in our case, the exterminating war which next year will mark 200 years,” Grant said.
“It (the ceremony) holds weight for First Nations people, because that Crown put a weight on us, and we are still dealing with that.”
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