Canada, Australia and New Zealand inherited and adapted a monarchical framework of government, even in the absence of a resident monarch. Although steady transfer of the royal prerogative to a popularly elected executive has enabled these three former dominions to be sometimes described as “crowned republics” or “disguised republics”, there was no popular drive to abandon monarchy until the 1990s, and even then the republican cause was based largely on issues of symbolism and national identity than on perceived core weaknesses in the political system.
This book traces the long and sometimes subtle process of localising monarchy in the vice-regal office from the mid-twentieth century onwards, and compares the powers and functions of the Queen’s surrogates with each other and with those of the monarch herself, including their recourse to the so-called “reserve powers”. Among the key questions posed in this comparative study are: Can the current monarchical system be refined to the point of countering republican sentiment? Why has the republican argument gained more momentum in Australia than in Canada or New Zealand? Can a republican model retain residual monarchic elements? What is likely to be the lasting legacy of the Crown in these three strikingly similar political cultures?
The author’s underlying loyalties are neither firmly monarchist nor firmly republican. He is convinced, however, that the combined effects of a strong sense of national identity and an increasingly presidential style of political leadership within these three Westminster-derived systems make it difficult for contemporary governors-general (or their state and provincial colleagues)to fulfil two of their key roles-to unite and inspire the people on the one hand and to be a credible constitutional watchdog on the other.
Everyone should be interested in the arguments put forward in this book, which discusses: the influence of derivative monarchy in all three countries, how the vice-regal office was adapted as substitute for the absent monarch and asks: can we keep the essence of monarchical government with a republican framework? - Ethos, ACT Law Society, March 2009
In this important research Professor Boyce deals with the underlying inquiry of whether the constitutional monarchical system can be developed, so as to avoid the need for radical change. If Professor Boyce intended this research to be advocacy for either the monarchist or the republican, this has not eventuated. In his work Professor Boyce argues that nationalism and presidential-style leadership has changed the role of the Governor-General in the former dominions. The reader is alerted to the individual variations in practice in the three countries, as opposed to the written constitutional position. The research identifies the development of the monarchy in the realms, with a focus on the representative’s, rather than the Queen. In reading the book, the reader is reminded of the inter-relationship that exists between the three countries; that is if one was to change its constitutional status as to the Crown, the others may follow suit. This book is effective in its ability to discuss politics, practicality and legality. In the end Professor Boyce poses two primary choices: a republic or reform – only time will tell as to his conclusions. - Dominic Katter, Hearsay, Issue 36, August 2009, Bar Association of Queensland
This is an interesting and well-written work on a topic that has not been the subject of as much attention as it deserves: the extraordinary fact that the British monarchy has managed to survive not only in its home, but also in the many former constitutent parts of the British Empire, and how it has been adapted in those countries. - Greg Taylor, Law Institute Journal of Victoria, October 2009
Table of Contents
Preface and Acknowledgments
Monarchy’s Survival in the Old Commonwealth
A Family of Crowns
More Than An Ornament? Vice-Regal Powers and Influence
The Crown at Rideau Hall
Monarchy in the Provinces
The Crown at Yarralumla
Six State Crowns?
The Kiwi Crown
Failure and Success in Governorship
Choices: Republic or Reform