The Australian Head
of State is on the eve of making her last visit to Australia. In future, if
invitations are extended, her duties will be carried out by one of her
children. Sources close to Buckingham Palace have confirmed the 80-year-old
monarch has decided to wind back her public appearances – and exhausting long
trips are out. Although Australia was not specifically mentioned Crikey
was told that the immediate royal family believes this country will shed the monarchy
“sooner, rather than later”.

In the unlikely event of this occurring in the Queen’s
lifetime, Prince Charles will probably represent his mother at the “handover”
ceremony. In any case, the Queen does not preside at the loss of any of her
“territories beyond the seas” – one of her children or a close relative stands
in for her. Buckingham Palace has taken note of the declining interest by the
Australian public during her rare visits – and the attitude “saddens” the Queen.

She will arrive in Australia in a chartered aircraft on Monday and will
be on her way home Thursday after a $3 million visit – a cost which has caused
outrage. The initial purpose of the visit is for her to open the Commonwealth
Games, possibly her last.