Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has dismissed discussions on a republic as he meets King Charles III for his first audience with the new monarch.
The Prime Minister has joined world leaders and dignitaries in London to pay respect to Queen Elizabeth and meet the new sovereign for the first time.
In an exclusive interview with Englishheadline Australia prior to his meeting with the King, Mr Albanese said he had two clear messages for Charles.
He said the priority was to express Australia’s “condolences” for the loss of his mother the Queen.
“He is going through a bereavement, a loss of his mother, so soon after he lost his father,” Mr Albanese told Englishheadline Australia’s Kieran Gilbert.
“King Charles, I think is going through an extraordinarily difficult time on a personal level.”
But the Prime Minister’s discussion with the new monarch also turned to formal duties as King Charles becomes Australia’s new head of state.
“But also to engage with him as our new head of state, a first meeting, and I very much look forward to that discussion,” Mr Albanese said.
The King and Queen Consort Camilla will also host a state function for foreign leaders and diplomats in London on Sunday night – another opportunity for leaders to informally engage with the new monarch.
Following the meeting with the King, Mr Albanese addressed the press in London and confirmed he also engaged in his first face-to-face audience with new British Prime Minister Liz Truss.
Mr Albanese refused to divulge the specific details of his meeting with King Charles but said it was a “very warm engagement”.
He also refused to be drawn on his own personal republicanism as the debate begins to take hold in Australia.
The Prime Minister has repeatedly rejected discussing the issue during the mourning period, but some of his parliamentary colleagues have seized the opportunity to declare the timing is right.
When asked on Englishheadline Australia about his reaction to those calling for a republic, Mr Albanese said his “responsibility” at this time was to express Australia’s gratitude to the late Queen’s lifelong service.
“I have a responsibility to represent the nation at this time and this is a time where Australians are expressing their grief but they’re also expressing their gratitude at the life of service for Queen Elizabeth,” he said.
“There of course has always been a debate about our constitution and those issues and it’s up to people to act according to what they think is right.
“I think it’s very important that during this period of mourning that I express the view which overwhelmingly the nation is feeling at this time.”
The Prime Minister will attend the King and Queen Consort’s state function on Sunday night before joining hundreds of other foreign leaders and representatives at Queen Elizabeth’s funeral on Monday.
Mr Albanese will return to Australia on Wednesday before the National Day of Mourning on Thursday.