SYDNEY, Australia – Australians welcomed Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, to Sydney on Tuesday, and clamored for a glimpse of the newly married couple, who a day earlier announced they were expecting the royal family's newest addition.
The pair – young, diverse and cool exuding – are the new face of royalty. But Australians have had a complicated relationship with the monarchy, and the couple's honeymoon tour is widely seen as a charm offensive aimed at sometimes skeptical subjects.
But what is the relationship, both political and emotional, between Australia and the royal family?
What does the monarchy have done with Australia?
Around the world, Queen Elizabeth II is known as the Queen of England. But in 16 other nations belonging to the Commonwealth, the same woman is also the official head of state. What do you mean? Queen of Australia, Queen of Canada, Queen of Barbados – well, you get the point.
Up until 1986, Australian law could effectively be made thousands of thousands away in the British Parliament. But two acts passed that year simultaneously in Australia and Britain ended direct British involvement in Australia's governance.
However, the queen – and her descendants – continue to have an important role in the country. As head of state (but not the government), the queen's image still appears on bank notes and postage stamps, and her representative, the governor general, serves as a rubber stamp: signing off on new legislation passed by Australia's federal Parliament, approving new prime ministers and appointing judges, ambassadors and other officials.
Is everyone happy about the royal visit?
The short answer: No.
There has been a historic face-off between two passionate groups: monarchists and republicans.
Monarchists say: If it is not broke, why fix it? The monarch offers stability, and the governor general serves an important role in making sure lawmakers – the prime minister included – abide by the constitution. The system, they say, works.
Republicans, who advocate for complete independence, say the monarchy is a tired and outdated institution. Given that Australia has no legislative ties to Britain, it is only logical that Australia's head of state is an Australian. The hereditary nature of the monarchy contrasts with what many Australians believe is a quintessential national value: egalitarianism.
And another big sticking point: Australian taxpayers pay the cost of trips made by members of the royal family. A five-day visit from the queen in 2006 cost 1.8 million Australian dollars, or about $ 1.3 million.
But what do Australians really think?
After taking a hit following the death of Princess Diana in 1997, the monarchy is cool again.
A report from 2016 suggested that the royal family's approval rating has risen, particularly among young people. The wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in May was seen as heralding a more modern, including image of royalty.
Nevertheless, many Australians are ready to break up with the Windsors. TO poll taken just before the couple's nuptials found that 48 percent of Australians supported becoming a republic. The others were split between supporting the monarchy and being undecided.
Could Australia become a republic soon?
Experts said little is likely to change in Australia's relationship with the monarchy as long as the queen, now 92 and Britain's longest-reigning monarch, is alive.
But without a united movement among republicans, it could be difficult to stir up nationwide support. A referendum on becoming a republic in 1999 failed, after 55 percent of citizens voted against it.