Prince Harry reviewed the Australian fleet last Saturday. It was the centenary of the Royal Australian Navy’s first entry into Sydney Harbour. On the same trip, the prince made a surprise visit to Perth to meet members of the SAS who have served in Afghanistan, where the prince himself has also served.
Prince Harry is now fourth in line to the throne following the birth of his nephew, Prince George.
The new Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, is a committed royalist, having expressed the view that the monarchy has served Australia well. The two prime ministers before him, both socialists, were in favor of an Australian republic, replacing the Queen with a figurehead president appointed by parliament, a change that would only give the politicians more power. Even the pro-republic Economist magazine said that such a significant change would be followed by at least ten years of political instability.
While Australia is a fairly new country, having attained independence in 1901, it is interesting to note that it is the world’s seventh oldest democracy.
Australia, Canada and New Zealand are all constitutional monarchies, sometimes referred to as Commonwealth Realms, nations within the Commonwealth that retain a direct link with the Crown. There are sixteen Commonwealth Realms. The other 37 members of the Commonwealth, an organization made up of former British colonies, are republics, with their own presidents. Many of these have had a politically volatile history.
Australia, Canada and New Zealand are nations that have been truly blessed in modern history – blessed with political stability, which has enabled them to enjoy great prosperity. That political stability owes a great deal to the continued royal link.
Canada was the first to seek independence from Great Britain, back in 1864, at a time when its neighbor, the United States, was fighting a Civil War. There was no temptation to adopt the US model of government. Indeed, Canada was founded by royalists fleeing the US after the Revolutionary War. In the War of 1812, Canadians remained loyal to Britain, asserting their right to follow a different path from the United States.
Canadians wanted independence under the Crown. They became the Dominion of Canada, the term dominion inspired by Psalm 72:8: ‘“He shall have dominion also from sea to sea.”
Australia, New Zealand and South Africa all followed, becoming dominions in 1901, 1905 and 1910 respectively. South Africa left the Commonwealth in 1961 over its apartheid policies but joined again after apartheid as an independent republic within the organization.
These dominions were a major military force, fighting with Britain in a number of conflicts, including both world wars. They are amongst the most stable of all the world’s countries and act as magnets for immigrants from less fortunate countries. Sadly, many of those immigrants fail to understand or appreciate the constitutional arrangement that has contributed so greatly to the stability of these nations.