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Face value: Australians ask for free portraits of Queen Elizabeth

Federal politicians in Australia, a constitutional monarchy whose head of state is the British monarch, are not obliged to hand out the pictures, but can claim an allowance to provide them, as well as items such as flags, at constituents’ request.

world Updated: Aug 10, 2018 15:42 IST
Reuters
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Reuters, Sydney
Australia,Queen Elizabeth,Queen Elizabeth portrait
Britain's Queen Elizabeth sits in her private audience room in Buckingham Palace next to one of her official red boxes in which she receives documents and papers from government officials in the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth.(Reuters Photo)

Australians by the dozen are demanding portraits of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, after a news item drew attention to an obscure rule entitling them to such articles from local politicians.

Federal politicians in Australia, a constitutional monarchy whose head of state is the British monarch, are not obliged to hand out the pictures, but can claim an allowance to provide them, as well as items such as flags, at constituents’ request.

The allowance has existed since 1990, but was little known or drawn on until reported by Vice News on Wednesday.

“I can say before the story was published, I had received zero requests for portraits of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth,” Tim Watts, an opposition Labuor Party politician representing parts of Melbourne told Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio.

About four dozen requests arrived in the last 24 hours, he said, adding, “I think 99 percent were tongue firmly in cheek.”

A national vote in 1999 defeated a motion that Australia should drop the monarchy to become a republic.

Though support for the move has hovered around 50 percent in opinion polls since, there is little appetite to put the issue back on the agenda, at least during Queen Elizabeth’s reign.

Her popularity is secure in Australia, where people line streets during royal visits and thousands watched Prince Harry’s May wedding to Meghan Markle on television.

First Published: Aug 10, 2018 15:42 IST