Waleed Aly has suggested that Australia to replace the monarchy with an Indigenous elder as head of state, saying the change could capture the nation’s “unique and charming” character.

The Project co-host outlined his suggestion in a lengthy segment on Thursday night’s show, three days after Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral and on the same day as Australians enjoyed a public holiday to mourn her.

Aly noted that swapping the monarchy for a president wouldn’t be the same, and that installing an Indigenous elder as head of state would draw on Australia’s existing traditions and ceremonies.

“An Australian President doesn’t offer the sense of constancy, history or ritual we’ll be replacing,” Aly said.

“If we’re going to do this, we need to draw on our own sources of tradition, ceremony and spirituality.

“In short, monarchy becomes a kind of foil to government. It works specifically because it’s undemocratic and imposes relatively little on citizens.

“It’s powerful precisely because it has no real power. The Queen was loved because she was so frequently silent, so often a blank canvas.”

He added that the pomp and ceremony associated with the royals could also continue, though it would be in a different way.

“One of the great things about some indigenous ceremonies like Welcome to Country, is they’re often informal,” Aly continued.

“This extraordinary mix of ceremony and informality capture something unique and charming about the Australian character.

“We could even call our elder Uncle or Aunty and when our Aunty dies, deep rituals of mourning would already exist, ready for us to embrace as a nation.”

Acknowledging that the office would be “racially closed”, Aly added that the monarchy was essentially the same since it is “always going to be white” and Catholics are prevented from becoming king or queen.

“It’s also undemocratic which replicates precisely one of the monarchy’s virtues,” Aly said.

“Sure, I can see problems. For example, how would the elder be chosen from among the hundreds of First Nations we have? Does it rotate in a predetermined way?

“Our head of state has to be an apolitical figure, confining itself to speaking on areas of mere total agreement. Would the elder face too much pressure to become an activist?

“I admit it’s rough but it captures something of the richness and magic of monarchy while being indisputably ours.”

Co-host Carrie Bickmore disagreed with Aly’s proposal, saying it was “too soon” after Her Majesty’s death to be debating Australia’s future as a republic or constitutional monarchy.

“We’ve had a Queen for 70 years so all the words of dignity and consistency and all that, it’s all about her for a lot of people,” she said.

It comes after the Queen’s death sparked renewed debate over whether Australia, along with other constitutional monarchies around the world, should continue to be attached to the monarchy or vote to become a republic.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who is also a republican, previously said he wouldn’t be holding a referendum to ask Australians to vote on the matter during his term, while Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said he wants the country to continue as a constitutional monarchy.

“We need a King as much as we did a Queen, because we have a stability in our system that served us well and I don’t believe in disrupting that,” he said.

Image: @theprojecttv

This article first appeared on OverSixty.