Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has attempted to knock back claims of irony around his support for an Australian republic while attending King Charles III’s coronation.
In an exclusive interview with Sky News Australia’s Piers Morgan in London, Mr Albanese refused to be drawn on whether he would pursue a referendum to install an Australian head of state.
While conceding his attitudes towards the monarchy had not subsided, the Prime Minister showed a great deal of deference towards the King ahead of the historic coronation on Saturday.
“I think you can be a lifelong Republican, which I am, and still respect our institutions. And certainly I have a great deal of respect for King Charles,” Mr Albanese said before his meeting with King Charles later on Tuesday (local time).
But Morgan continued to press the devout republican Prime Minister on when another referendum would occur.
Sticking to his consistent talking points, Mr Albanese said the Voice to Parliament was his priority and that a vote on a republic was not “imminent”.
“I think at some stage in the future that will occur,” he said.
“What I don’t want to do, is to be a Prime Minister who presides over just constitutional debates.”
The Albanese government was the first ever to appoint a minister directly responsible for a Republic, Matt Thistlethwaite.
In one of his first interviews in the role, Mr Thistlethwaite flagged Labor would “look at” a referendum if the Voice was successful.
But almost a year later, the Prime Minister is trying to distance himself from the more extreme elements of the pro-republican push.
The Australian Republican Movement is heaping pressure on Mr Albanese to stand up against the monarchy during the coronation on Saturday.
New co-chair Craig Foster urged the Prime Minister against any show of fealty to the “foreign monarch who is completely detached from Australian life”.
The ARM conceded it was appropriate for Mr Albanese to attend the ceremony but again insisted he not take part in a “disloyal and dishonest” pledge of loyalty to King Charles.
“Stand up for Australians Prime Minister! The Australian Republic Movement is calling on Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to stand up for Australian values by refusing to pledge allegiance to Charles,” the ARM said in a Tweet.
After initially dodging the question at a press conference earlier this week, the Prime Minister was again pressed by Morgan to declare he would say the oath of allegiance.
Mr Albanese initially ducked the question by pointing out he has pledged allegiance as an MP at every opening of Parliament, but then conceded he would do as “expected”.
“I will do what’s entirely appropriate as the representative of Australia,” he said.
“Australians made a choice in 1999, and one of the things that you’ve got to do is to accept democratic outcome. We made that choice, and I will certainly engage in that spirit.”
But when asked to respond to the ARM’s demands to pledge allegiance to Australia rather than the King, Mr Albanese echoed the views of the movement and said: “I pledge allegiance to the Australian people each and every day”.
“The position of the Australian Republican movement isn’t about getting rid of the monarchy, that’s a decision for the UK. The position of the ARM is that an Australian should be the Australian head of state. And that’s what I agree with,” he said.
“I’m not a monarchist.
“I’m a Republican. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t respect the institution which is there, which plays a role in our in our system of government.”
It comes after King Charles revealed concerns about whether he will be well received in Australia amid the push for a republic.
According to The Australian, King Charles expressed reservations to Australian diplomats about a potential trip after Mr Albanese indicated he would invite him and his wife Camilla to visit.
However, if the monarch were to accept Mr Albanese’s invitation it could upend a planned trip by William and Kate, and their three children, that was scheduled before Queen’s death in September.
King Charles has visited Australia 16 times and attended school here as a boy at Geelong Grammar’s Timbertop campus.
Piers Morgan’s interview with Anthony Albanese will air on Sky News Australia tonight at 11pm.