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New Zealand

‘We will become a republic within my lifetime,’ says New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 31 March, 2018, 1:57pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 31 March, 2018, 9:36pm

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said that she expects her country could become a republic within her lifetime.

In a wide-ranging interview with The Guardian, Ardern said there was great fondness for the members of the royal family whenever they visited New Zealand.

And although could not remember the last time a voter had asked her about becoming a republic, and admitted it was not a priority for her administration, she did believe New Zealand would eventually transition away from the monarchy.

“When I have been asked for an opinion, I think within my lifetime I think it is a likelihood we will transition. It is not something this government is prioritising at all though.

“The most important thing for New Zealand is we have a very special arrangement and relationship via our Treaty of Waitangi, and the relationship between Maori and the Crown, so before any conversation like that occurs, that is something that will needed to be resolved within New Zealand.”

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I think within my lifetime I think it is a likelihood we will transition
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

Ardern told The Guardian she had been given words of advice from former US president Barack Obama who visited New Zealand for the first time last week. Obama encouraged her to accept that she was doing her best, and a certain level of guilt came with the territory of running a country.

“I did ask him how he dealt with guilt,” said Ardern, who is expecting her first child in June and spoke to Obama about how he juggled leadership and family life.

“He just talked about the things you can do to always do your best, and that there will always be elements [of guilt] in the roles that we do, and probably to a certain degree just accepting that we are still doing our best.”

In February it was reported by the BBC that a “high-level group” of Commonwealth leaders met in London to review the governance of Commonwealth nations – amid reports that its members may also begin considering the succession to Queen Elizabeth, and whether the head of state would automatically pass to the Prince of Wales – or a non-hereditary leader.

Ardern said the matter of succession was a decision for the royal family to make among themselves.

“No one really wants to discuss [succession] because of course we all treasure the leadership globally that is displayed by the queen, but ultimately that is a decision for the royal family,” Ardern said.

Ardern’s chief press secretary said she did not anticipate being invited to the May wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, as it was largely a ceremony for friends and family.

Missing out on the royal wedding will save Ardern another trip to the local department store; where even when shopping for underwear she is asked for selfies.

“Certainly life has changed. It is just incredibly busy. But I really value being able to do normal things,” said Ardern. “Getting stopped in the middle of the lingerie section when you’re trying to stock up on a few things by an older man who wants a selfie is a little bit awkward.”