Former Prime Minister Paul Keating has claimed King Charles would be happy for Australia to become a republic, and would willingly renounce his sovereignty over the country.

Mr Keating, a staunch republican, claimed in a talk at the University of Sydney that the Royal Family would have been “glad” if Australia had voted to become a republic in the referendum in 1999.

“I think the Royal Family would have been so glad for the referendum to have passed, to be honest,” Mr Keating said on Wednesday night.

“I wouldn’t be at all surprised if King Charles III, the King of Australia, doesn’t volunteer … to renounce his claim on Australia.

“Look at the French. The French had a revolution for their republic. The Americans had a revolution for their republic. We couldn’t even pinch ours off Queen Elizabeth II — who didn’t want it. We couldn’t take the title, even if the monarch was happy to give it.

“I think Australia has a very poor idea of itself. It doesn’t know what it is and what it should be. Yet the inheritance the gift of the continent is such a great gift.”

Mr Keating also claimed he had a private conversation with Queen Elizabeth at Balmoral in 1993 about his hope for Australia to ditch the monarchy for good.

He said he “would not involve” her family as he tried to remove her as head of state.

In the referendum, Australia went on to vote in favour of remaining a constitutional monarchy.

The former prime minister also said he had turned down an offer to spearhead the Australian Republic Movement’s efforts to replace the monarchy following the Queen’s death last month.

He said, “If Australians have so little pride in themselves, so little pride that they are happy to be represented by the monarch of Great Britain, why would somebody like me want to shift their miserable view of themselves?”

Support for the monarchy is thought to have increased in the wake of the Queen’s death, despite the perceived unpopularity of Charles in his first weeks as King.

Image credits: Getty Images

This article first appeared on OverSixty.