POLITICS

Republican Prime Minister Declares Himself An 'Elizabethan'

What else does one say when one meets the Queen?

12/07/2017 9:28 AM AEST | Updated 12/07/2017 9:43 AM AEST
Victoria Jones - WPA Pool/Getty Images
Queen Elizabeth II meets with the Prime Minister of Australia Malcolm Turnbull during an audience at Buckingham Palace.

CANBERRA -- Although he's an avowed Republican, ahead of meeting the Queen, Malcolm Turnbull has said he is an "Elizabethan".

The former head of the Australian Republican Movement who led the charge for the "yes" vote in the failed 1999 Republican Referendum, the Prime Minister met with Queen Elizabeth II overnight in London for the first time.

It is a situation potentially more awkward than bestowing an Australian knighthood on the Queen's husband, Prince Phillip, but Turnbull handled it with great diplomacy and discretion, declaring himself an "Elizabethan" shortly before walking into Buckingham Palace.

"Even Republicans like myself can be, and in my case are, very strong Elizabethans as well," Turnbull said.

As protocol demands, the Prime Minister has not detailed his discussions with the British monarch so we don't know if the latest moves for a republic were raised.

Cabinet minister Josh Frydenberg is urging Turnbull's fellow "republic" travellers not to get too excited.

"This is a third-order issue, not the one that people are stopping any members of Parliament in the street on," he told ABC TV.

"We've got to get on with the job of delivering economic and national security, that's our priority, the Republic is not one for the current time."

There's also the issue of the possible early release of "the Dismissal" correspondence -- about the Whitlam government's removal -- between the Queen and then governor-general Sir John Kerr in 1975.

Those private letters are due to be released in 2027, but there's a Federal Court bid about to start to force the release.

Turnbull has expressed an interest in the matter and he, again in keeping with protocol, won't say if he raised it with the Queen.

The Prime Minister now heads back to Australia. The audience with Queen Elizabeth II was the last official duty on his week-long European trip.

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