In the nineteenth century when native ruler Seru Epenisa Cakobau declared himself King or paramount chief of Fiji (Fijian: Tui Viti). In 1874, he voluntarily ceded sovereignty of the islands to Britain, which made Fiji a Crown colony within the British Empire.
After nearly a century of British rule, Fiji became a Commonwealth realm, an independent sovereign state within the Commonwealth of Nations with Elizabeth II as monarch.
Fijian was declared a republic during a military coup in 1987, but as Her Majesty observed, this was done without reference to the Fijian people.
Her Majesty had said she was "sad to think that the ending of the Fijian allegiance to the Crown should have been brought about without the people of Fiji being given an opportunity to express their opinion on the proposal."Her Majesty's statement was unusual. She spoke as The Queen of Fiji, and without the advice of Her Ministers, there being none. This statement implies that at some stage the people of Fiji will have to decide on the status of the Crown. An intensely loyal people, there is no doubt that in a free vote, the monarchy would be restored.
Nevertheless, the Great Council of Chiefs recognises Elizabeth II as Tui Viti or the traditional Queen of Fiji, but the position is not one of a constitutional, or otherwise legal nature.
The present Prime Minister Commodore Bainimaramahas came to power as a result of a coup in 2006 He says that when democracy was eventually restored in 2014 years, Fiji would like to ask the Queen to resume her position as Queen of Fiji
"I'm still loyal to the Queen - many people in Fiji are," he told Graham Davis ( see below) , acknowledging The Queen’s photograph above his desk. "One of the things I'd like to do is see her become Queen of Fiji again."
It is clear that The Queen would only return if Her Fijian Realm were to be governed along sound democratic principles.
,,,,Australian government position...
In the meantime the Australian government has been forthright in condemning the Fijian government, and has even sought to punish Fiji by blocking the United Nations use of Fiji soldiers in peace keeping operations and other sanctions.
We have argued here that the present Australian government, like its predecessors, once again demonstrates a quite extraordinary inconsistency in its foreign policy. No sanctions are proposed against one of our largest trading partners, and a great power, although she never holds what Australians would call democratic elections. There is no indication that she will ever hold democratic elections.
If Australia is to hold itself up as some sort of moral guardian, it ought to condemn all countries, whatever their size and power.
To single Fiji out for condemnation alone makes Australia look like a bully, careful only to attack less powerful states.
This is the historic official film of the Royal Visit to Fiji, made for the Fijian Government, published by Archivesnz. A comprehensive coverage from the welcome to the departure, including traditional ceremonies, formal and informal visits, and impressive singing and dancing. W3471/16BW209, B&W 24 mins. 35mm 2,145 ft. DV file from BetaSP telecini of 35mm film.
Notwithstanding the development of the internet, letters to the editor in newspapers remain an important forum. It is surprising how often the role of the Crown seems to come up. Those advancing the cause of a politicians' republicl frequently put pen to paper to criticise the role of the Crown in our constitutional system. They rarely indicate what precisely they have in mind to replace our constitution and our Flag.
On 3 May 2012 the following letter from Richard Lynch of Waterloo in New South Wales appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald. He obviously knows nothing of The Queen’s considerable role in relation to the Australia Acts which terminated the relationship of the States with the British Crown, and any residual and benign power of the British Parliament which after all only acted at our request.
[ Prince Charles in Fiji, 1970 ]
"Peter Mendes-Shineberg's suggests a chancellor to oversee Federal Parliament's standards and Don Malcolmson suggests a commissioner to investigate allegations of misconduct and corruption by members. Surely this is the work of a head of state: we need a president. The incumbent is a toothless tiger and has never brought to account a single issue nor defended our constitution in anyway whatsoever. The Queen has remained silent.
"When the constitution of Fiji was tossed aside, its ousted prime minister travelled to Britain to plead for the Queen's help, whereupon she refused him an audience, casting the people into the hands of a dictator. The idea that a constitutional monarchy is somehow a great safety blanket is for those rolled up and asleep in it.
Richard Hallam Coelho of Randwick replied on the following day.
"Richard Lynch (Letters, May 3) criticises the Queen's inaction in Fiji. Yet I assume he did not support the governor-general's dismissal of the Whitlam government either. The important role of non-elected constitutional guarantors has been eroded because people seem terrified that the occasional exercise of extraordinary powers will somehow bring down democracy itself."
...The Queen's defence of constitutional government....
The respected Australian think tank Lowy Institute conducted under the direction of Jenny Hayward-Jones, says that a poll it recently conducted in Fiji shows Prime Minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama enjoys the support of 66 per cent of the people of Fiji.
A higher percentage of Indo-Fijians (75%) approved of Commodore Bainimarama’s performance than did iTaukei (indigenous Fijians) (60%).
The ABC’s Radio Australia reports (8/9) that Fiji's Ministry of Information Permanent Secretary, Sharon Smith-Johns, said the poll showed the Fijian Prime Minister three times more popular among Fijians than Prime Minister Julia Gillard is among Australians.
This finding was reached through the poll of 1032 Fijians. A similar number, 65 per cent, said Fiji was heading in the right direction.
A clear majority (63 per cent) disagree with Australia's response to the 2006 coup. On the specific issue of the sanctions against the regime, 81 per cent believe that Australia should "lift all sanctions and re-establish normal relations".
Fijians have a very high regard for Australia and New Zealand and disagree with their Prime Minister as to whether these countries should be meber sof the Pacific Islands Forum.
[ Prince Charles inspects Honour Guard - Independence Day 10 October 1970 ]
...integrity of the poll...
But the national secretary of the Fiji Trades Union Congress, Felix Anthony, told Radio Australia he did not think the people who answered the survey questions were being honest.
"This poll, I think at best would only indicate how intimidated people are," he said.
The president of the International Commission of Jurists in Australia, former judge John Dowd, told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat that Fiji was operating under an illegal constitution and that the legal fraternity was powerless to take action.
"You'd have to say they are intimidated," he said.
"They can see the writing on the wall, they know that if any of them speak out in Fiji they will be targeted themselves and I perfectly understand the fear that there must be in the legal profession."
The Lowy Institute says the poll was conducted in the same method as other opinion polls in Fiji have been and on a confidential basis.
It says the poll results tend to suggest that the Fiji people did not feel inhibited answering the survey. Details about the poll appear below and there are more in the report.
An executive summary appears below after the following comment on Australian and New Zealand policy.
...need for re-appraisal of Australian, NZ policy.....
Fiji should in my view return to democracy as soon as possible, and be restored to its place in the Commonwealth. After a return to the Commonwealth, and with the approval of The Queen of Fiji, the monarchy - which is very popular in the country - should be restored.
Australian and New Zealand have been successful in having Fiji suspended from the Commonwealth and the Pacific Islands Forum. This has been counter productive.
The campaigns have only succeeded in driving Fiji closer to the Chinese government which in no way practices the standards of governance about which the Australian and New Zealand foreign offices lecture the Fijians.
Both Australia and New Zealand have applied standards to Fiji which they would not dare to apply to, say, China. Fiji is not a colony and should not be treated this way.
From comments made by some of the other leaders at the recent Pacific Forum, it would seem that they no longer share the views of the Australian and New Zealand governments and would prefer to see Fiji restored to these bodies.
The quite vindictive campaign that Fiji should take no further part in international peacekeeping efforts – where she has made a remarkable contribution and seems particularly suited, should in my view be abandoned.
Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama says that a new constitution will be in place in 2013 and that elections will be held in 2014. He claims that the measures he has taken are there to ensure that racist elements do not again take over the government and discriminate against Fijian Indians.
If a coup d’état overturns the rule of law, then it is both unusual and potentially self-defeating for a court to rule on its legality, writes constitutional authority, Dr. Anne Twomey. She says that this is why cases on coups are both rare and the object of fascination.
In a scholarly article, but one readily accessible to non-lawyers, she asks two fundamental questions First , how does a court of a country that has been subject to a coup d’état accommodate the strict application of the rule of law with recognition of the reality of a new governing regime and the serious risk to public safety that might flow from its judgment?
Second, to what extent does the ‘doctrine of necessity’ justify extra-constitutional action?
Dr. Twomey draws on cases in Australia on the consequences of long standing constitutional breaches, for example where a double dissolution is given in error.
This article, “The Fijian coup cases – The Constitution, reserve powers and the doctrine of necessity”, discusses how the Fijian courts have dealt with these dilemmas. It is relevant to point out that some of the judges involved are Australians.
[An armed soldier watches as a policeman leads the clerks and Senators of Parliament out of the Parliamentary Chambers. Chief Clerk Mary Chapman wears her ceremonial wig as she walks past the soldier, one of several who interrupted a Senate session to close Parliament at the time of the coup: Fiji Times ]
Queen Elizabeth II was once monarch of Fiji. This video from ‘Medeas biggest fan’ considers how she is viewed in the Republic of the Fiji Islands today.
General Sitiveni Rabuka, the military coup leader who became the first man to oust a British monarch since Oliver Cromwell, is interviewed. He was to aplogise to The Queen in 1997, and ask her back. Her Majesty replied “Let the people decide”.
The first Royal Visit to Fiji took place in Fiji in 1953. This video is on the Travel Film Archive chanel.