The Queen of Australia, Elizabeth II, arrived in Australia over the weekend for her 15th visit to the country she has been Head of State of for more than 50 years.
I have seen the Queen once – or to be more precise, I saw her hand waving out the window of her car as she drove past. It was 1970, and I was 5 or 6 years old, standing with many other children and adults on Breakfast Creek Rd in inner-Brisbane, all waving those little plastic Australian flags (which is one thing that doesn’t seem to have changed much in the last 30 years).
The Queen’s latest (and quite possibly last) visit to Australia, coupled with the fact I’ve just been trying to wrap my head around the minutiae of citizenship law, reminds me of a trivial but none the less interesting question – (well I find it interesting anyway).
Does the Queen of Australia need a visa to enter the country? If she does, what type, and if she doesn’t, does that mean she is an Australian citizen? And do Prince Philip or Prince Charles get treated differently?
Feel free to leave a reply saying what you think the answers are (although no prizes for getting it right this time). I did ask this question of a senior DIMIA official this question a couple of years ago, during a private briefing about on some new regulations or legislation from the time (I suspect I was getting a bit bored).
UPDATE – Answers to Questions:
(a) The Queen doesn’t need a visa, as she is Queen of Australia and Head of State. Under Section 1 of the Constitution, she is also part of the Federal Parliament.
(b) The Queen is not an Australian citizen. Citizenship is of Australia is defined by statute, not the Constitution, and she does not meet the criteria for Australian citizenship outlined in the Citizenship Act 1948. All Australian citizens are subjects of the Queen, but you can’t be a subject of or to yourself. (see this 1995 Research Note from the Parlimentary Library)
(c) Other members of the Royal Family are granted Special Purpose Visas via Regulation. (Regulation 2.40 of the Migration Regulations)