- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 7, 2003

LONDON (Agence France-Presse) A plot by the Canadian government to abolish the monarchy and replace Queen Elizabeth II with a president was thwarted when she refused to accept a proposal curtailing her powers, official records reveal.

Secret files released Wednesday by the Public Record Office after 30 years disclose how an uncertain political climate in Canada and the queen's reluctance to agree to five measures reducing her role prevented any official bid from being made.

A confidential briefing paper detailed new information that, it says, may have been withheld by Canadian ministers, threatening her trip in 1973 to the Commonwealth Conference.

The letter, typed and signed by Hugh Overton at the North American department of Britain's Foreign Office, warned that the queen's presence "might add fuel to this domestic controversy."

Advising that the details be passed "informally" to Buckingham Palace, he wrote, "Our information is that, as a result of the elections, the royal connection and the role of the queen in Canada are again becoming the subject of more active domestic political interest."

The letter concluded, "These are straws in the wind. But they show that there is at least a risk of the royal question becoming a matter of controversy in Canada over the next few months."

In a reply dated Dec. 15, 1972, Peter Hayman, British ambassador in Canada, referred to a leaked document sent to the Montreal Gazette, putting forward plans to hand over five functions performed by the queen to the governor general. Although the queen was said to have accepted four of these proposals she is said to have refused to relinquish her hold on a fifth.

As a result, then-Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau decided against pursuing the matter because of the detrimental effect such a move could have on his leadership, which had survived the federal elections by a slender margin.

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