Monarchy of Papua New Guinea

The monarchy of Papua New Guinea is a system of government in which a hereditary monarch is the sovereign and head of state of Papua New Guinea. The current monarch, since 16 September 1975, is Queen Elizabeth II.[1] Although the person of the sovereign is equally shared with 15 other independent countries within the Commonwealth of Nations, each country's monarchy is separate and legally distinct. As a result, the current monarch is officially titled the Queen of Papua New Guinea and, in this capacity, she, her consort, and other members of the Royal Family undertake public and private functions domestically and abroad as representatives of the Papua New Guinean state. However, the Queen is the only member of the Royal Family with any constitutional role. The Queen lives predominantly in the United Kingdom and, while several powers are the sovereign's alone, most of the royal governmental and ceremonial duties in Papua New Guinea are carried out by the Queen's representative, the governor-general.

The responsibilities of the sovereign, and of the governor-general, under the Papua New Guinean constitution, include summoning and dismissing parliament, calling elections, and appointing governments. Further, Royal Assent or the royal sign-manual are required to enact laws, letters patent, and orders in council. But the authority for these acts stems from the country's populace, in which sovereignty is vested, and the monarch's direct participation in any of these areas of governance is limited, with most related powers entrusted for exercise by the elected and appointed parliamentarians, the ministers of the Crown drawn from amongst them, and judges.

Queen of Papua New Guinea
National Emblem of Papua New Guinea
Queen Elizabeth II in March 2015
Elizabeth II
StyleHer Majesty
Heir apparentCharles, Prince of Wales
First monarchElizabeth II
Formation16 September 1975

International and domestic role

Papua New Guinea shares equally the same sovereign with fifteen other monarchies (a grouping, including Papua New Guinea, known informally as the Commonwealth realms) in the 52-member Commonwealth of Nations, with the monarch residing predominantly in the oldest and most populous realm, the United Kingdom, and a viceroy acting as the sovereign's representatives in Papua New Guinea. The pan-national Crown has both a shared and separate character and the sovereign's role as monarch of Papua New Guinea is distinct to his or her position as monarch of any other realm,[1] including the United Kingdom. Only Papua New Guinean ministers of the Crown may advise the sovereign on matters of the Papua New Guinean state.[2]

Commonwealth realm map
  Commonwealth realms
  Overseas territories of Commonwealth realms

This division is illustrated in a number of ways: The monarch, for example, holds a unique Papua New Guinean title, granted by the constitution—Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of Papua New Guinea and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth[3]—though, the monarch is typically styled Queen of Papua New Guinea and is addressed as such when in Papua New Guinea or performing duties on behalf of Papua New Guinea abroad. Colloquially, the Queen is referred to as "Missis Kwin" and as "Mama belong big family" in the creole language of Tok Pisin.[1] Further, when she and other members of the Royal Family are acting in public specifically as representatives of Papua New Guinea, they will use, where possible, Papua New Guinean symbols, including the country's national flag. The sovereign similarly only draws from Papua New Guinean coffers for support in the performance of her duties as Queen of Papua New Guinea; citizens do not pay any money to the Queen or any other member of the Royal Family, either towards personal income or to support royal residences outside of Papua New Guinea. Normally, tax dollars pay only for the costs associated with the governor-general as an instrument of the Queen's authority, including travel, security, residences, offices, ceremonies, and the like.

Constitutional role

Unlike in most other Commonwealth realms, sovereignty is constitutionally vested in the citizenry of Papua New Guinea and the preamble to the constitution states "that all power belongs to the people—acting through their duly elected representatives". The monarch has been, according to section 82 of the constitution, "requested by the people of Papua New Guinea, through their Constituent Assembly, to become [monarch] and Head of State of Papua New Guinea" and thus acts in that capacity. The document thereafter sets out the role and powers of the monarch.[3]

The monarch is represented by the Governor-General of Papua New Guinea—appointed by the monarch upon the nomination of the National Parliament of Papua New Guinea. The monarch is informed of the prime minister's decision before the governor-general gives Royal Assent.


Port Moresby parliament building front, by Steve Shattuck
The parliament of Papua New Guinea

Most of the Queen's domestic duties are performed by the governor-general. The governor-general represents the Queen on ceremonial occasions such as the opening of parliament, the presentation of honours, and military parades. Under the constitution, he or she is given authority to act in some matters, for example in appointing and disciplining officers of the civil service and proroguing parliament. As in the other Commonwealth realms, however, the monarch's role, and thereby the viceroy's role, is almost entirely symbolic and cultural, acting as a symbol of the legal authority under which all governments operate and the powers that are constitutionally the Crown's are exercised almost wholly upon the advice of the Cabinet, made up of Ministers of the Crown. Since the death of Queen Anne in 1714, the last monarch to head the British cabinet, the monarch "reigns" but does not "rule". In exceptional circumstances, however, the monarch or viceroy can act against such advice based upon his or her reserve powers.

There are also a few duties which must be specifically performed by, or bills that require assent by the Queen. These include: signing the appointment papers of governors-general, the confirmation of awards of honours, and approving any change in her title.


Charles, Prince of Wales
Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, the current heir to the throne of Papua New Guinea

The constitution provides that the Queen's heirs shall succeed her as head of state. Unlike some realms, but as with others, Papua New Guinea defers to United Kingdom law to determine the line of succession to the Papua New Guinean throne.[4] As such, succession is by absolute primogeniture and governed by the Act of Settlement 1701, the Bill of Rights 1689, and the Succession to the Crown Act 2013. This legislation lays out the rules that the monarch cannot be a Roman Catholic and must be in communion with the Church of England upon ascending the throne.

The heir apparent is Elizabeth II's eldest son, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales.

Legal role

All laws in Papua New Guinea are enacted with the sovereign's or viceroy's approval, the granting of which to a bill is known as Royal Assent. The viceroy may reserve a bill for the monarch's personal decision on the bill; the monarch has the power to disallow a bill within a time limit specified by the constitution.

The sovereign is deemed the "fount of justice," and is responsible for rendering justice for all subjects. The sovereign does not personally rule in judicial cases; instead, judicial functions are performed in his or her name. Common law holds that the sovereign "can do no wrong"; the monarch cannot be prosecuted in his or her own courts for criminal offences. Civil lawsuits against the Crown in its public capacity (lawsuits against the government) are permitted; however, lawsuits against the monarch personally are not cognizable. The sovereign and, by extension, the governor-general, also exercises the "prerogative of mercy" and may pardon offences against the Crown. Pardons may be awarded before, during, or after a trial.

The legal personality of the state is referred to as "Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Papua New Guinea." For example, if a lawsuit is filed against the government, the respondent is formally described as Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Papua New Guinea.


The current monarchy's origins lie in the proclamation in 1884 of a British protectorate along the south coast of New Guinea and adjacent islands. After being fully annexed into the British Empire in 1888, the territory was placed in 1902 under the authority of the Crown in its Australian parliament and council.[5] The northern area of New Guinea was a territory of the imperial German Crown until Australia seized the area during the First World War.[6]

Papua New Guinea (PNG) was toured by Prince Charles (later the Prince of Wales) in 1966, while he was a student in Australia. He returned in 1975 to represent the Queen at PNG's independence celebrations. He then opened the new parliament building in Port Moresby.[7]


  1. ^ a b c Royal Household. "The Monarchy Today > Queen and Commonwealth". Queen's Printer. Retrieved 18 August 2013.
  2. ^ Scott, F. R. (January 1944). "The End of Dominion Status". The American Journal of International Law. American Society of International Law. 38 (1): 34–49. doi:10.2307/2192530. JSTOR 2192530.
  3. ^ a b Elizabeth II (1975), Constitution of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea (PDF), S.85, Ministry of Inter Government Relations, p. 55, archived from the original (PDF) on 29 January 2013, retrieved 18 August 2013
  4. ^ Clegg, Nick (26 March 2015), Commencement of Succession to the Crown Act 2013 :Written statement - HCWS490, London: Queen's Printer, retrieved 26 March 2015
  5. ^ Waiko, John Dademo (1993). A Short History of Papua New Guinea. OUP Australia and New Zealand. ISBN 978-0195531640.
  6. ^ Waiko, John Dademo (2003). Papua New Guinea: A History of Our Times. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0195516623.
  7. ^ "Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall to make Australian visit", The Telegraph, 19 September 2012, retrieved 21 September 2012
Commonwealth realm

A Commonwealth realm is a sovereign state in which Queen Elizabeth II is the reigning constitutional monarch and head of state. Each realm is independent from the other realms. As of 2019, there are 16 Commonwealth realms: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, and the United Kingdom. All 16 Commonwealth realms are members of the Commonwealth of Nations, an intergovernmental organisation of 53 member states. Elizabeth II is Head of the Commonwealth.

In 1952, Britain's proclamation of Elizabeth II's accession used the term realms to describe the seven sovereign states of which she was queen—the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan and Ceylon. Since then, new realms have been created through independence of former colonies and dependencies and some realms have become republics.

List of kingdoms and royal dynasties

Monarchism is a movement that supports the monarchy as a form of government.

Monarchies in Oceania

There are six monarchies in Oceania; that is: self-governing sovereign states in Oceania where supreme power resides with an individual hereditary head, who is recognised as the head of state. Each is a constitutional monarchy, wherein the sovereign inherits his or her office, usually keeps it until death or abdication, and is bound by laws and customs in the exercise of their powers. Five of these independent states share Queen Elizabeth II as their respective head of state, making them part of a global grouping known as the Commonwealth realms; in addition, all monarchies of Oceania are members of the Commonwealth of Nations. The only sovereign monarchy in Oceania that does not share a monarch with another state is Tonga. Australia and New Zealand have dependencies within the region and outside it, although five non-sovereign constituent monarchs are recognized by New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and France.

Outline of Papua New Guinea

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Papua New Guinea:

The Independent State of Papua New Guinea is a sovereign island nation of Oceania comprising the eastern half of the Island of New Guinea and numerous offshore islands in the western South Pacific Ocean. Papua New Guinea is located in a region defined since the early 19th century as Melanesia. Its capital, and one of its few major cities, is Port Moresby. It is one of the most diverse countries on Earth, with over 850 indigenous languages and at least as many traditional societies, out of a population of just under 6 million. It is also one of the most rural, with only 18 per cent of its people living in urban centres. The country is also one of the world's least explored, culturally and geographically, and many undiscovered species of plants and animals are thought to exist in the interior of Papua New Guinea.

The majority of the population live in traditional societies and practise subsistence-based agriculture. These societies and clans have some explicit acknowledgement within the nation's constitutional framework. The PNG Constitution (Preamble 5(4)) expresses the wish for traditional villages and communities to remain as viable units of Papua New Guinean society, and for active steps to be taken in their preservation. The PNG legislature has enacted various laws in which a type of tenure called "customary land title" is recognised, meaning that the traditional lands of the indigenous peoples have some legal basis to inalienable tenure. This customary land notionally covers most of the usable land in the country (some 97% of total land area); alienated land is either held privately under State Lease or is government land. Freehold Title (also known as fee simple) can only be held by Papua New Guinea citizens.The country's geography is similarly diverse and, in places, extremely rugged. A spine of mountains runs the length of the island of New Guinea, forming a populous highlands region. Dense rainforests can be found in the lowland and coastal areas. This terrain has made it difficult for the country to develop transportation infrastructure. In some areas, planes are the only mode of transport. After being ruled by three external powers since 1884, Papua New Guinea gained its independence from Australia in 1975.

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