WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Monday that her government will not be pursuing any moves toward changing New Zealand to a republic following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
Ardern stated that she believed New Zealand would become a republic one day, although it wouldn’t happen in her lifetime. However, there were other pressing matters for her government.
Her comments represent the first time she has spoken about the New Zealand republic debate since Elizabeth’s death, and reflect previous comments she has made on the issue. Ardern previously supported the possibility of New Zealand becoming a republic.
Under the current system, the British monarch remains New Zealand’s head of state, represented in New Zealand by a governor-general. The governor-general’s role is these days considered primarily ceremonial.
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Still, many people argue New Zealand won’t be able to fully step out from the shadows of its colonialist past and become a truly independent nation until it does become a republic.
“There’s been a debate, probably for a number of years,” Ardern said. “It’s just the pace, and how widely that debate is occurring. I’ve made my view plain many times. In time, I think that’s where New Zealand will go. This is what I expect to see in my lifetime.
A protest group made up of republicans against the Duke and Duke of Cambridge’s arrival in Hamilton (New Zealand) on April 12, 2014
Phil Walter/Getty Images
“But I don’t see it as a short-term measure or anything that is on the agenda any time soon,” Ardern said.
Her government did not plan to talk about becoming a republic at any time, she said.
“As I say, in large part actually because I’ve never sensed the urgency,” Ardern said. “There are so many challenges we face. It is an important, large-scale debate. I don’t think it’s one that would or should occur quickly.”
People in New Zealand speculate that the republic debate will gain momentum after Elizabeth’s death, because Elizabeth was so beloved by many.
Ardern said she didn’t link the two events: “I’ve never attached it in that way,” she said.
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Ardern said Monday that New Zealand would observe the anniversary of Elizabeth’s passing with a holiday, Sept. 26, according to Ardern. A memorial service for Elizabeth will be held in Wellington, the capital of New Zealand.
Ardern noted that Elizabeth was an amazing person. Many New Zealanders would love to commemorate her death or celebrate her life.
“As New Zealand’s queen and much-loved sovereign for over 70 years, it is appropriate that we mark her life of dedicated public service with a state memorial service and a one-off public holiday,” Ardern said.
Ardern said she would be leaving this week for Britain to attend Elizabeth’s funeral.
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