William to touch on movement for republic

By Claire Trevett

Prince William takes a pass while at Eden Park. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Prince William takes a pass while at Eden Park. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Prince William's first speech on behalf of the Queen is expected to obliquely touch on the issue of republicanism - saying the royal family wants to serve New Zealand for as long as it is wanted.

The Republican Movement and other pro-republican protesters are expected to be waiting outside the Supreme Court when Prince William officially opens it at 10.30am today.

The indigenous Supreme Court was set up by the Labour Government to replace Britain's Privy Council as New Zealand's highest court of appeal, as a further step in breaking colonial ties.

British media have reported royal sources as saying his speech is not overtly political but will stress the historic links between New Zealand and his family, saying his family desired to serve the country as long as wanted.

The visit has sparked the usual coverage of the issue of republicanism.

Several British media sources - many of whom are travelling with Prince William - have described a growing support for it in both New Zealand and Australia, which Prince William will visit after New Zealand.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has expressed support for a republic "in due season" but said it was not a top priority.

Prime Minister John Key - who reinstated knighthoods as one of his first moves in government - has said it seems inevitable "one day" but he did not expect it to happen in his time as Prime Minister.

Green MP Keith Locke has a private member's bill to hold a two-stage referendum on whether to retain the monarchy and, if not, how to appoint a head of state. United Future leader Peter Dunne also wants a referendum, but his call was rejected by Mr Key.

The decision to send Prince William on the trip on behalf of the Queen was also viewed by some British commentators as a sign he was being prepared as a "shadow king" to leapfrog Prince Charles in the line of succession. Royal officials denied it, telling the Guardian newspaper the Queen simply wanted her grandsons to "learn the ropes" and insisting Prince William was focusing on his training as a search and rescue helicopter pilot with the Royal Air Force.

Prince William graduated from a year-long training course in advanced helicopter training last week.

- NZ Herald

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