Australian Prime Minister tells of ‘warm’ meeting with the King

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he had a “warm” meeting with the King and respected him as the country’s head of state, despite being a republican.

The politician, in the UK ahead of the coronation, spoke after joining Defence Secretary Ben Wallace to tour the BAE Systems shipyard in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, where nuclear submarines will be built as part of the Aukus agreement announced earlier this year by UK, Australian and US leaders.

During a press conference on Wednesday, Mr Albanese was asked about meeting the King the previous day.

He said: “I support an Australian as Australia’s head of state.

“That doesn’t mean that I don’t respect the institutions and it certainly doesn’t mean I don’t respect King Charles, both as a person but also as Australia’s head of state.

“That is our constitutional arrangement that we have.

“As the Australian Prime Minister I will respect the arrangements that we have across the board.”

He said he could not go into details of the meeting because of protocol.

He added: “I can say though that it was very warm, I appreciated the discussion that we had and that King Charles has a great love for and affection for Australia.”

He said he told the King that he and the Queen Consort would be welcome visitors to Australia, as would any other member of the royal family.

He added: “I certainly am looking forward to being at the coronation on Saturday and I’m sure it will be successful.”

Asked if he would swear an oath of allegiance to the monarch, he said: “I do it every time that I’m sworn into Parliament.”

Mr Albanese and Mr Wallace spoke to staff and apprentices at the shipyard, where Australians will train to build the SSN-AUKUS submarines.

Mr Albanese said: “The Aukus arrangements are about our national security and about our common interests between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, to uphold the international rule of law, to co-operate in both the development of nuclear-powered submarines for Australia, but also with other technological co-operation, with the engagement as a part of Aukus phase two, going forward.

“But also, it’s about something more than our national security, it’s about jobs and economic prosperity.”

Mr Wallace said: “The SSN-AUKUS submarines will protect the Euro-Atlantic region for decades to come and with their interoperable submarine design, will ensure mutual compatibility with our Australian and US allies alongside supporting jobs across the UK and demonstrating the experience and skill which embodies British industry.”