No appetite in New Zealand to review constitutional link to royal family, PM Ardern says

FILE PHOTO: New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks at a news conference on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Wellington, New Zealand, February 17, 2021. Picture taken February 17, 2021. REUTERS/Praveen Menon

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - New Zealand is unlikely to stop having Queen Elizabeth as its head of state anytime soon, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, in comments following Oprah Winfrey's interview with Prince Harry and Meghan.

Ardern was asked by a reporter if the interview, and the picture painted of the royal family, had given her pause around New Zealand's constitutional ties with the royals.

"I’ve said before that, you know, I’ve not sensed an appetite from New Zealanders for significant change in our constitutional arrangements, and I don’t expect that

that’s likely to change quickly from New Zealanders," Ardern said.

A former British colony, New Zealand retains Queen Elizabeth as its constitutional monarch and head of state.

In a tell-all television interview, Prince Harry and his wife Meghan accused the royal family of racism and of failing to protect them from negative media coverage, sending shockwaves through the monarchy.

Asked whether Harry and Meghan had ever inquired about living in New Zealand, Ardern said they had not done so officially.

Ardern is said to have developed a personal friendship with Meghan when the couple toured New Zealand in 2018, and Meghan has described the prime minister as an inspiration.

But Ardern said they have only been in touch occasionally in the past.

"Ultimately, the matters that have been canvassed here I see as for Meghan and Harry to respond to directly. These are matters about their personal lives and their personal decisions, and I don’t think it deserves a commentary from anyone else,

particularly," she added.

(Reporting by Praveen Menon; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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