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On the eve of the royal tour, Sir Don McKinnon, former deputy Prime Minister and Commonwealth Secretary General, told TVNZ’s Q+A programme that it’s inevitable that New Zealand will become a republic.
“I think it's inevitable. I don’t know when and I'm not going to campaign actively one way or the other. I have a great respect for Her Majesty the Queen. I had so many meetings with her, and I have respect for Prince Charles. We had him here a little over a year ago and he proved very popular with the people," Sir Don said.
"But it's a debate that will continue. It's important we have a good debate about this and about the flag. I'm quite certain the Royal Family understands that completely."
Of 54 countries in the Commonwealth, only 16 are realms, Sir Don said.
"And I can tell you now, one Caribbean publicly and three Caribbean privately are probably going to give up that relationship with the monarchy when the Queen dies. So it is a diminishing group of countries, and the important thing is for us to openly and candidly debate the issue.”
Attractive young people
Asked if the average Kiwi is interested in the royals, Sir Don replied, "Well there's the celebrity side of that. I mean, these are two very attractive young people. Wherever they go in the United States or elsewhere they get crowds. So yes I believe people will come out. It won’t be as it was as I recollect in 1954/54 when there were just hundreds of thousands."
Watch the full interview here.
Meanwhile, as The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and baby Prince George prepare to begin their NZ tour on Monday, British media reports New Zealanders showing a respectful line to the royals.
The Telegraph says "Topless female Maori dancers will cover up when they greet the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at the start of their tour, according to a Maori expert."
Eight-month-old Baby Prince George will join Duke and Duchess of Cambridge William and Kate for their nine days in New Zealand.
The royal itinerary:
• Wellington (7th April, 9th April, 16th April)
• Blenheim (10th April)
• Auckland (11th April)
• Hamilton and Cambridge (12th April)
• Dunedin (13th April)
• Queenstown (13th April)
• Christchurch (14th April)