Queen Elizabeth II may find herself in the highly unusual position of having to intervene in politics, as uncertainty in Parliament rises and the possibility of a vote of no-confidence in Boris Johnson has been floated. Added to this, Her Majesty astonished many this weekend when her apparent personal opinion on the UK’s political leadership came to light. However, when the Queen had to intervene in an Australian constitutional crisis in 1975, Prince Charles was also drawn into the affray and “interposed” himself into Australian politics.
The 1975 episode, known as the Dismissal, has been described as the greatest political and constitutional crisis in Australian history, and one of its “most divisive and corrosive episodes”.
Researcher from the Institute of Government, Sarah Nickson, speaking to BBC Newsnight, said: “In 1975 Australia faced its own constitutional crisis when the government was unable to get the Parliament to pass the bills needed to pay for things.
“Things like civil servants pay, essential services, so the country could have ground to a halt.
“The Governor-General, who is the Queen's representative in Australia, stepped in and sacked the Prime Minister and appointed the Opposition leader as an interim Prime Minister."
Prince Charles and Queen Elizabeth II (Image: Getty)
PM Whitlam speaks after his dismissal in 1975 (Image: Getty)
Gough Whitlam was dismissed by Governor-General Sir John Kerr, who then commissioned the Leader of the Opposition Malcolm Fraser as caretaker Prime Minister.
Ms Nickson continued: “It damaged all involved, the incoming and outgoing Prime Minister and the Governor-General himself.”
The dismissal of Whitlam sparked protest demonstrations in Australia, and demands for the Queen to restore him as Prime Minister.
However, the Palace replied: “Her Majesty, as Queen of Australia, is watching events in Canberra with close interest and attention, but it would not be proper for her to intervene in person in matters which are so clearly placed within the jurisdiction of the Governor-General by the Constitution Act.”
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The outrage the Australian public felt over the Governor-General’s actions went on to spur the Republican movement in the country.
Kerr was widely criticised by Australian Labor supporters for his actions, resigned early as Governor-General, and lived much of his remaining life abroad.
However, in 2015, it was alleged that at the time of the ‘Dismissal’ crisis, Charles exchanged correspondence with Governor-General Kerr on the matter.
Historian Jenny Hocking unearthed a 1975 letter from the Prince of Wales to Kerr.
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The Queen pictured in 1975 (Image: Getty)
Governor-General Kerr with Lady Kerr, and Princess Anne, in 1975 (Image: Getty)
She claimed in her book, 'The Dismissal Dossier', that Kerr had been