The Queen was not made aware that Australian prime minister Gough Whitlam was going to be sacked ahead of time, newly released correspondence has revealed.
Secret letters written by the Queen in 1975, with regards to Whitlam’s infamous dismissal, were released on Tuesday after a lengthy court battle.
Whitlam’s sacking is often referred to as one of the most controversial parts of Australia‘s political history, however, much of what happened remained shrouded in mystery up until now.
Today, more than 1,000 pages of correspondence between the Queen and the former Australian governor-general Sir John Kerr were unveiled.
This is thanks to a legal battle led by historian Professor Jenny Hocking, which led the High Court of Australia to rule that the correspondence could be accessed due to national interest.
Now, in a shock twist, it has been revealed that the Queen was not informed in advance of Whitlam’s dismissal.
Sir Kerr explained in the letters that it was ”better for Her Majesty not to know”.
The correspondence also reveals that Sir Kir had spoken with Buckingham Palace officials about whether or not he had the authority to dismiss Whitlam.
Australia is a constitutional monarchy where the Queen is head of state.
Whitlam was sacked in 1975 after failing to get parliament to approve a national budget and declining to resign or call an election.
Sir Kerr’s dismissal of Whitlam was widely viewed as unprecedented and elicited questions about Australia’s political independence.
The correspondence is made up of letters, newspaper clippings, reports, and copies of letters related to meetings attended by Sir Kerr at the time of Whitlam’s dismissal.
“The National Archives is proud to function as the memory and evidence of the nation, to preserve and provide historical Commonwealth records to the public,” said archives director-general David Fricker ahead of the letter being released.
Meanwhile, upon hearing the news, Hocking told the Guardian that she was “delighted” the documents would be released.
“I think this is the most appropriate response to what has been an emphatic high court decision and I thank the archives for their trouble in reaching this decision,” she said.