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Prime Minster Chris Hipkins is London-bound for the coronation of King Charles, where he plans to meet with the King.
National Party leader Christopher Luxon would also attend the coronation, as Hipkins said it was important – with just a few months to the election – to invite the leader of the Opposition.
However, Hipkins, who doesn’t support the monarchy, focused on diplomatic meetings with other world leaders – rather than the pomp, ceremony and royal encounters – during his weekly post-Cabinet media conference.
The prime minister said he would not be pushing to secede from the Crown, although he imagined it would happen eventually for New Zealand. He also said he wouldn’t be discussing republicanism with Charles.
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“Ideally, I think in time, New Zealand will become a fully independent country. We’ll stand on our own two feet in the world,” he said during a press conference, shortly before departing for Saturday’s coronation.
“I’m on record as being a republican. You know, I think I’ve never made any secret of this. But I’ve also indicated it’s not a priority for me. It’s not something I intend to push.”
He confirmed in Wellington that he would meet with “several” members of the royal family, including the King.
The coronation for Charles was scheduled for Saturday, and Hipkins said it was important New Zealand was well represented at it.
While Hipkins avoided speaking in detail about his royal engagements, he did discuss plans to meet foreign leaders.
As he departed New Zealand on Monday, he planned to call Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy. However, Hipkins said he did not have plans to visit Ukraine and was unlikely to do so this year.
In the UK, he confirmed he’d meet British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at 10 Downing St.
He signalled in his pre-Budget speech he would be spending time prior to the coronation on securing an “entry into force” date for the Free Trade Agreement with the UK.
“Rounding out the trip I will be holding bilateral meetings with the Prime Ministers of Tonga and Canada, as well as representing New Zealand at a range of official Coronation engagements,” Hipkins said.
With UK armed forces minister James Heappey, Hipkins said he would visit the NZDF troops stationed in the UK, training Ukranian defence forces at a military base near London.
Following Monday night’s call with Zelenskyy, and planned meeting with New Zealand troops in London, Hipkins said he would announce further support for the defence of Ukraine later this week.
“I intend to outline to the president in my call this evening what shape that additional support that we’re going to provide will be, and then I’ll certainly share that,” he said.