Most of the nations of the Commonwealth are already republics. It is a myth that the Commonwealth needs the Windsor family in order to survive. We must not retain the monarchy because of some misguided notion about what the Commonwealth really is.
The modern Commonwealth of nations is an association of 53 independent states consulting and co-operating in the common interests of their peoples and for the promotion of democracy, human rights, the rule of law, gender equality, sustainable economic and social development, and international understanding. The London Declaration of 1949 stated that the British monarch would act as the symbolic head of the Commonwealth and that republics could be member nations, recognising the British monarch as Head of the Commonwealth without having him/her as their own Head of State.
Presently, the Queen's role as Head of the Commonwealth is entirely ceremonial. She confers with Commonwealth leaders, visits host countries and attends formal functions. She delivers a Commonwealth Day speech and is present at some Commonwealth Day events. There is no fixed term for Head of the Commonwealth and the monarch's heir will not automatically become Head of the Commonwealth upon her death or abdication. Under a British republic, Commonwealth members would be free to choose how they wish to appoint this symbolic role and our elected British head of state would participate equally with the heads of government of other member nations. If they wish, the Royals could continue their charitable activities and patronage of the Commonwealth in much the same way in which former US Presidents, such as Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, continue to function as patrons of international charitable organisations.
Most Commonwealth nations are already republics yet the British monarch continues to act as unelected head of state in 16 of the 53 member nations constitutionally binding them to heads of state who are not Roman Catholics. The head of state must also hold the position of Supreme Governor of The Church of England, thereby preventing, Jews, Hindus, Muslims or anyone who is not Protestant from becoming head of state. Many of these countries have adopted anti-discrimination laws expressly forbidding discrimination on the basis of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability. In many of these nations strong sentiment exists that having a distant foreign monarch as head of state runs fundamentally counter to the spirit of egalitarianism, fairness and the aspiration of their own citizens to this position of national leadership.
Australia currently leads the Commonwealth in the republican debate with the leaders of both main federal political parties now committed republic supporters. Most recent Australian prime ministers have been supporters of a republic and in April 2008 Kevin Rudd stated plainly, "Our position as a party is quite clear - we are committed to an Australian republic." His successor Julia Gillard has also stated she wants Australia to be a republic.
Polls fluctuate from time to time and depending on what question is asked, but there is generally a solid level of public support for abandoning the monarchy in Australia.
Similarly, polls in Canada have revealed that more than half of Canadians view the British Queen and the Royal Family simply as celebrity figures who should not have any formal role in Canadian society and saw the monarchy as an outmoded and regressive institution that has no real relevance to most Canadians today . An elected Canadian head of state would embody Canadian sovereignty, diversity and pride - a position to which all Canadians could aspire and one which would serve as a true representative of the Canadian people rather than an appointed Governor General who is the deputy of a foreign monarch.
In a December 2008 press release, Tom Freda, national director for Citizens for a Canadian Republic, renewed criticism of a Canadian Governor General acting as deputy for an unelected foreign monarch as head of state. "The position of the governor general has often been described as a constitutional referee whose job it is to ensure that parliament behaves. Well, if we're to use that analogy, then what we have now is something akin to one hockey team getting to choose or fire their own referee and always being assured of favourable calls." The group points out that many Canadians are outraged that such power resides in an unelected position, that such a position must bend to the wishes of any prime minister, whatever the party, and that decisions are heavily dependent on interpretation of "precedents and convention" rather than codified constitutional law.
New Zealand has an active republican movement and Labour politicians have long been in favour of New Zealand becoming a republic.