Queen Elizabeth marks anniversary as realm shrinks

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“We must keep a close and a good and a healthy relationship with the United Kingdom because we need Britain to support us,” said Edmund Maduro, a retired civil servant in the British Virgin Islands.

Yet few outposts actually rely on Britain for funding or leadership. When it distributes aid money, London shows no favoritism to those who maintain ties with the queen.

In the Pacific, where Britain’s naval mastery won it a swath of territory in the late 18th century, opinions are divided.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, born in Wales, has long argued that Queen Elizabeth should be the last British monarch to rule over her country. She enraged monarchists when she declined to curtsey, a traditional show of respect, during the queen’s October visit.

Opinion polls, however, show support for an Australian republic has fallen since a proposal to replace the queen with a president was rejected in a 1999 referendum.

“I think with young people, there’s a total lack of engagement with the issue either way,” said John Warhurst, deputy chairman of the Australian Republican Movement.

Royal loyalties

In the South Pacific’s Papua New Guinea, where leaders chose voluntarily to appoint the queen their head of state, and the nearby Solomon Islands, there’s also little clamor for change.

Britain and the queen tend to have little significance apart from appearing on our money,” said Tarcisius Kabutaulaka, an associate professor at the University of Hawaii’s Center for Pacific Islands Studies and a native Solomon Islander.

In New Zealand, many indigenous Maori people feel strong ties toward the monarchy, fearing certain rights guaranteed them by the country’s founding document - the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi - could be undermined if links to Britain were axed.

Fiji, the South Pacific island nation which dumped the queen in a 1987 coup, will belatedly remove the monarch’s image from its currency in June.

Elsewhere, sentimental ties to Britain remain strong.

In the north Atlantic, Bermuda - the largest of Britain’s dependencies - has seen leaders’ calls to ditch the queen rejected by the public.

Gibraltar, the British outcrop which borders Spain, has clashed with the United Nations over its desire to retain ties to the monarch over Madrid’s objections, while Falkland Islanders bristle at Argentina’s claim that the disputed South Atlantic islands should be stripped of links to London.

In Canada, Prime Minister Stephen Harper last year renamed the country’s armed forces, restoring “royal” to their titles for the first time in 40 years, and ordered his nation’s embassies to each display a portrait of the queen.

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