Most Australians want republic

Most Australians would support severing their country's constitutional ties with Britain if Prince Charles becomes king, according to survey results published Saturday. The poll report published in The Weekend Australian said 46 percent of Australians polled supported their country becoming a republic, while 34 percent wanted the British monarch to remain Australia's head of state. But if Charles, the first in line for the throne, replaces his mother Queen Elizabeth II, who turns 80 in April, support for a republic would rise to 52 percent and opposition would slide to 29 percent, the poll report said. A proposal to make Australia a republic with a president replacing the British monarch as head of state, an idea opposed by center-right Prime Minister John Howard, was defeated in a 1999 referendum.

The poll, conducted by market research company Newspoll, which is part-owned by the newspaper's parent company, News Corp., was based on a random nationwide telephone survey of 1,200 adults last weekend. It had a 3 percentage point margin of error.

Charles' popularity has suffered since he divorced the mother of his two sons, Princess Diana, who blamed his current wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, for ruining their marriage.

Diana died in a car crash in Paris in 1997. Australia is a former British colony which was granted independence in 1901 but retained the British monarch as head of state, like some other former colonies.

Australia still attends Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings along with leaders from many other countries that were once part of the British empire, but the links between Britain and Australia eroded in the latter half of the 20th century as Britain pursued trade alliances with Europe.

The queen has not publicly stated a preference on the republic issue, saying she would abide by whatever decision Australians made, reports the AP. N.U.