Sean Palmer: Why the monarchy is good for New Zealand

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The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall. Photo / Mark Mitchell
The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall. Photo / Mark Mitchell

The crowds have cheered, the tweets have been tweeted, and the photos have been shared. Prince Charles and Camilla's high-profile tour of New Zealand ended on Friday, but the monarchy is far from absent in Aotearoa. The Queen of New Zealand is respected around the world and is immensely popular here. According to a recent One News poll, Queen Elizabeth II enjoys the support of about three quarters of New Zealanders; a figure that has been climbing steadily for years and would be the envy of any politician. However, her personal popularity is not the most important aspect of the monarchy. Our democracy, with our constitutional monarchy at its foundation, is one of the most successful in the world. Kiwi modesty forbids us from gloating, but it is a fact in which we can certainly take some pride.

The monarchy has a stabilising effect on our constitution and a growing number of scholars are acknowledging its role as a constitutional safeguard. As critical as this is, the monarchy contributes to this country in many other valuable ways.

Consider what Prince Charles' trip has achieved over the past week.

It drew the world's attention to many of New Zealand's industries, people, and its arts and culture. As with all royal tours, the world's media watched closely. This tour raised New Zealand's profile on the world stage and offered great publicity to our national industries. It is a fantastic advertisement for this country, from our unparalleled tourism potential, to the innovation of Weta Workshop, to the much-loved Hairy Maclary books. This was a chance for millions of people around the world to learn about everything New Zealand has to offer.

The economic value of the trip is clear, but it also emphasised the connections between New Zealanders and their next king. This trip has further enhanced the warm relationship Prince Charles has with New Zealand. He has maintained close contact with many New Zealand organisations and individuals throughout his life. Not only does he know New Zealand well, but for many years he has been espousing principles that resonate with this country. His commitment to the environment and to conservation, his passion for youth development, and his belief in multiculturalism are all causes close to the hearts of many New Zealanders.

New Zealanders support the monarchy for many different reasons, some are constitutional, others personal. Whatever the reasons, the monarchy is good for New Zealand.

All of the ideologies, theories, and armchair critics in the world are not worth the concrete value the Crown brings to the Land of the Long White Cloud.

Dr Sean Palmer has a PhD on the role of the monarchy in New Zealand and is the chair of Monarchy New Zealand. He can be reached on chair@monarchy.org.nz

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