Having our republican cake and eating it too

The Duchess of Cambridge.
The Duchess of Cambridge. LUKAS COCH

LOVE the Duchess but tired of the empire?

The quiet achievers gently pushing Australia towards becoming a republic believe one can have their cake and eat it too.

Australian Republican Movement national director David Morris said while we might be in love with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, most of us treat them as superstars, not as rulers.

"They are being welcomed as celebrities but we are not welcoming them with an allegiance as we did in the 1950s," he said.

"It's a celebrity phenomenon that we have affection for, but it's not one that unites Australia."

Although streams of Aussies are becoming members of the movement, it was Prime Minister Tony Abbott's pledge of allegiance to the Queen that really drove support late last year.

"We've had a huge surge in membership and new supporters online," he said.

"It really took off when he went back to having imperial knights and dames.

"In the two weeks following that decision, there was a massive increase."

Mr Morris said it drove more support for a republic than anything else in the past decade.

The movement now has a membership "in the thousands" and almost 12,000 supporters on Facebook.

It has now been roughly 15 years since the republican referendum was lost in November 1999.

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull was a co-founder of the movement.

His office was contacted for comment but there was no response before deadlineon Wednesday.

Early last month, he said Australia was unlikely to become a republic until there was a "watershed", probably following an end to Queen Elizabeth's reign.

"When the Queen abdicates or dies, when her reign comes to an end that will be a huge watershed," he said.

Mr Morris however is looking closer to home, waiting for Mr Abbott to leave the prime ministerial office.

"We have a Prime Minister who won't want to have those discussions," Mr Morris said.

"We know that and understand that."

Once he leaves the role though, many of Australia's leading politicians want a republic, Mr Morris said.

Should that day come, we will still welcome the British royals including the Duke and Duchess and take just as many "pretty pictures".

"As a republic we'll still have all those pretty pictures of our friends from Britain visiting us," he said.

"We can have that excitement and be a sovereign nation."

Topics:  duchess of cambridge duke of cambridge republic royal tour

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