In the nineteenth century when native ruler Seru Epenisa Cakobau declared himself King or paramount chief of Fiji (Fijian: Tui Viti). In 1874, he voluntarily ceded sovereignty of the islands to Britain, which made Fiji a Crown colony within the British Empire. After nearly a century of British rule, Fiji became a Commonwealth realm, an independent sovereign state within the Commonwealth of Nations with Elizabeth II as monarch. Fijian was declared a republic during a military coup in 1987, but as Her Majesty observed, this was done without reference to the Fijian people. Her Majesty had said she was
“sad to think that the ending of the Fijian allegiance to the Crown should have been brought about without the people of Fiji being given an opportunity to express their opinion on the proposal.”
Her Majesty’s statement was unusual. She spoke as The Queen of Fiji, and without the advice of Her Ministers, there being none. This statement implies that at some stage the people of Fiji will have to decide on the status of the Crown.
An intensely loyal people, there is no doubt that in a free vote, the monarchy would be restored. Nevertheless, the Great Council of Chiefs recognises Elizabeth II as Tui Viti or the traditional Queen of Fiji, but the position is not one of a constitutional, or otherwise legal nature.
The present Prime Minister Commodore Bainimaramahas came to power as a result of a coup in 2006. He says that when democracy was eventually restored in 2014 years, Fiji would like to ask the Queen to resume her position as Queen of Fiji. “I’m still loyal to the Queen–many people in Fiji are,” he told Graham Davis, acknowledging The Queen’s photograph above his desk. “One of the things I’d like to do is see her become Queen of Fiji again.” It is clear that The Queen would only return if Her Fijian Realm were to be governed along sound democratic principles.
Australian government position
In the meantime the Australian government has been forthright in condemning the Fijian government, and has even sought to punish Fiji by blocking the United Nations use of Fiji soldiers in peace keeping operations and other sanctions. We have argued here that the present Australian government, like its predecessors, once again demonstrates a quite extraordinary inconsistency in its foreign policy. No sanctions are proposed against one of our largest trading partners, and a great power, although she never holds what Australians would call democratic elections. There is no indication that she will ever hold democratic elections. If Australia is to hold itself up as some sort of moral guardian, it ought to condemn all countries, whatever their size and power. To single Fiji out for condemnation alone makes Australia look like a bully, careful only to attack less powerful states.