The Australian Republican Movement has hit out at Prime Minister Tony Abbott for “dragging” baby Prince George into the republic debate.
The movement’s national director, David Morris, criticised comments by Mr Abbott at a parliamentary reception for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in Canberra on Thursday.
Mr Abbott, a monarchist, said a “currently unknowable Australian prime minister” would one day welcome Prince George to parliament as “King George VII”.
“That will be a sign of the stability and the continuity in the life of our nation,” Mr Abbott said.
Mr Morris said the prime minister shouldn’t mix George up in the debate.
“The way he (Mr Abbott) dragged the poor innocent baby into it yesterday in his speech is quite unfair,” Mr Morris told AAP on Friday.
“It would be inappropriate to ask a baby what his view is, yet Mr Abbott drags him into the debate and it’s really just a bit absurd.”
The spat comes as the duke and duchess prepare to jet out of Australia on Friday afternoon following their three-week tour to Australia and New Zealand.
The royal couple and nine-month-old George have been met by huge crowds, with monarchists arguing the warm reception shows support for the Queen is strong.
But Mr Morris said the big crowds proved nothing about support for the monarchy.
“The last week has been an absolute celebrity festival. There has not been a debate about the republic in the last week,” he said.
“To draw any conclusion about the republic from a visit from celebrities is absolutely missing the point.”
Canberra is the last stop on a busy tour that’s also included the Blue Mountains, Taronga Zoo in Sydney, the Amberley RAAF base near Brisbane, Manly Beach, Uluru and Adelaide.
Prince George made just one official outing with a short visit to Taronga Zoo for the renaming of a bilby enclosure in his honour.
Australian Monarchist League spokesman Chris Whittaker said the baby prince was part of new generation of royals who were connecting with Australians.
“The baby is just a sensation,” he told AAP.
“I don’t know who’s more popular, but the baby is right up there.”
Mr Whittaker said it was impressive how the Cambridges had “mixed in” with regular Australians on the tour.
“I wasn’t alive in 1983, but when Prince Charles and Princess Diana came out they created connection with people and likewise now … Kate and Will are reaching out to Australians and creating lasting bonds,” he said.
“There’s zero chance of Australia becoming a republic any time in the future.”