Opinion

Peter Williams

It's royal tour time again from tomorrow and the next few days will be yet another huge slap in the face for those misguided souls who want New Zealand to cut ties with Buckingham Palace and become a republic with our own Parliament-appointed or, God forbid, elected President.

Those calls have been pretty muted recently.

The Queen herself is said to be unconcerned if we go it alone with our own head of state.

But she knows her family's greatest assets are her grandsons, the most popular of whom arrives in the country tomorrow.

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Take nothing from William. He appears a sensible and worldly young man, but being follicly challenged means he's ageing beyond his years. The impression is too that he's become more formal and less relaxed the older he gets.

But Harry. Ah, what a guy.

Yep, when you're the younger brother, life's always a bit easier. You know it's highly unlikely you'll ever get the top job and you keep slipping further down the list every time there's a new arrival at Kensington Palace.

But after some well reported and wayward adolescent years, the 30-something Harry has matured into my favourite royal.

He's done the hard yards in the military, has some high-level operational skills and now with a cause like the Invictus Games has established himself as someone with what those in the recruitment industry might call "strong interpersonal skills".

I may be wrong, but his performance on stage at the Sydney Opera House last weekend was the first time I can recall a royal making a speech without a nearby script on paper, and without a lecturn.

Sure he was using the autocue, but by holding the microphone and walking around the stage in the manner of a stand-up comedian or a Tony Robbins-style seminar, he captivated his audience in a way that no member of the royal family, save perhaps his mother Diana, has ever been able to do before.

Reputedly he rehearsed the speech in front of his wife several times and she offered advice based on her professional skills. That alone shows why the new Duchess of Sussex will be such an asset to the family.

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(Maybe she could give her father-in-law some tips!)

Harry and Meghan are certainties to be wildly popular during this visit here. A combination of the royal good guy and his glamorous pregnant wife will quickly hose down all those questions about us going it alone to find our own head of state.

Maybe this is all part of the brilliance of the monarchy.

Every so often a New Zealand Prime Minister makes some comment about why it is inevitable that this country will become a republic, yet none of them has gone anywhere remotely close to doing anything about it.

David Lange, Jim Bolger and Helen Clark declining the knight and dame honours they could have had if they'd wanted them are the only tangible signs of republicanism from our political leaders in the past 60 years.

Clark's non-mandated replacement of the Privy Council with the Supreme Court was, and is, far from universally popular, while we all know what happened with the flag referendum.

The reality is we love the Queen, we think Prince Charles is a bit of a dork but his wife is nice so we'll put up with him for a few years, and the next two generations down are just lovely and they'll come to visit us a lot.

Our system works. The appointment of a Governor-General is mostly non-partisan, although Sir Robert Muldoon appointing former Prime Minister Sir Keith Holyoake as the G-G in 1977 was close to a slippery slope. As long as the role as the monarch's representative continues to be filled with a person of integrity, and that person acts in a completely non-political manner, what's not to like?

If it ain't broke, don't try to fix it.

Get out your Union Jacks. They're here tomorrow. Rotorua will be smiling on Wednesday.