New Zealand rejects bid to ditch the Queen

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London, Apr 22(ANI): Queen Elizabeth II got a 84th birthday present from New Zealand on Thursday, when the country's parliament rejected a long-awaited attempt to abolish the British monarchy.

A Bill that would have set up a referendum on the country becoming a republic was defeated by 68 votes to 53 at its first reading amidst surge in support for the Royal Family among New Zealanders.

Analysts believe that the recent rise in the monarchy's popularity is largely due to Prince William's January visit.

"We think it's down to a visit by a certain Prince William in January," The Telegraph quoted Lewis Holden, the Republican Movement Chairman, as saying.

"That's why Buckingham Palace sent him out here. In a way, it's a particularly good birthday present for the Queen," he added.

The Monarchy New Zealand Chairman, Professor Noel Cox, hailed the parliament's stand, and said: "New Zealanders should strongly support their democratic monarchy, and are rightly proud of it."

However, Green Party MP Keith Locke, who tabled the bill with Labour's support, said it could have led to an elected president having similar powers to the Governor-General, the Queen's representative.

"The question many New Zealanders ask is: Why should we have a head of state on the other side of the world who is not a citizen of our country? When Britain sent troops into Iraq, the Queen, as Queen of Great Britain, went down to the barracks in military dress to support the soldiers," Locke said.

"That was in conflict with her role as Queen of New Zealand, a country which opposed that same war," he added. (ANI)

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