71 Evatt to Beasley

Cablegram E6 NEW YORK, 23 April 1949

MOST IMMEDIATE This morning Saturday I have received telegram despatched from London Friday night. [1] I would suggest the following comments.

1. Mr. Chifley's statement in paragraph 4 of telegram fairly expressed general objectives of Australia's policy in relation to India.

2. The real difficulty starts in paragraph 2 of the cable which suggests that termination of relationships of one member of British Commonwealth with King need not prevent continuance of an association of Commonwealth of Nations.

3. In paragraphs 7 and 8 the Prime Ministers of Pakistan and Ceylon are opposed to views of India and emphasise many practical difficulties which will arise from termination of legal association with the King by any member of the Commonwealth.

4. The point really comes down to this. If India terminates direct link with the King what is the future basis of the association of nations assuming that India is to be included as a member thereof In paragraph 3 there is revealed correct answer to this question and I now deal with that paragraph.

5. It is our [2] that rights of citizenship can fairly be regarded as establishing a relationship which does not ordinarily exist between two countries which are foreign to each other. However mere exchange of citizenship rights will not retain any link to the King because India clearly contemplates that the duty of allegiance to the King will completely disappear in the case of citizens of India. In other countries the duty of allegiance will remain but that duty will cease to be common throughout the Commonwealth.

6. Paragraph 3 goes on to suggest that there might be a declaration by India of continued association with members of the Commonwealth and the acceptance by India of the King as the symbol of the association. First of all the mere declaration does not throw any light on the basis of the association. Therefore the idea of treating the King as the symbol of the association does not carry the matter further until there is an answer to the question-what functions, powers or prerogatives will the King be capable of exercising in relation to India.

7. The answer is-none. The King will cease to have any authority either in respect of internal [3] or external affairs of India.

This position will be in striking contrast with that of Australia where the King is the supreme executive in respect of both internal [4] and external affairs though he acts on the advice of different ministers in respect of Commonwealth and State matters.

8. Assuming that India is unwilling to continue in respect of India any authority in the King and that India still remains a member of the Commonwealth the [5] of the proposal will be to convert the British Commonwealth into an associate of nations of a new character.

9. In the case of Australia this means that while Australia's own relationships with the King would remain unimpaired the nature of the British Commonwealth of Nations would be fundamentally changed. It will become an associat[ion] of friendly nations which would be ready and willing to exchange certain rights of citizenship so long as such rights do not carry with them any duty of allegiance to the King. For the rest the King would admittedly become only a symbol, in other words he would occupy the same position as an emblem or a flag.

10. This might be satisfactory to India but the cable shows that the result would not be satisfactory to Pakistan, Ceylon, Australia and New Zealand.

11. At Paris when the matter was discussed last year [6] I strongly urged upon the Indian representative that the King should in respect of India continue to exercise prerogative functions in relation to India's external affairs e.g. the appointments of representatives of India abroad should continue to be made legally by the King always acting of course on the advice of Indian responsible Ministers. If this were done Royal functions would continue to be exercisable in respect of India and the King would be something more than a symbol of an association of friendly nations.

12. The recent print of the draft India Constitution indicates by way of footnote that the relationship of India to the British Commonwealth of nations is still to be provided for. I firmly believe that both Cripps and Mountbatten have over (sic) encouraged India in taking the step now proposed. On the other hand if the matter is fully studied and reconsidered in a practical way the reasonableness and necessity for the suggestions I made at Paris would become apparent.

13. The continuance of the British Commonwealth of Nations is vitally important to Australia and, by the British Commonwealth, one does not mean merely a group of friendly powers having nothing in common except conditional exchange of right of citizenship with the King reduced to the position of a mere symbol or emblem of association. India should realise that personal loyalty is regarded as very important in Australia and indeed both Mr.

Chifley and I have repeatedly emphasised publicly this aspect of the British Commonwealth relationship and have equally emphasised the importance of the name Britain.

14. For the above reasons I think that India should be pressed most strongly to agree to the retention in respect of India at least of Royal powers and functions mentioned in paragraph 11. In that case the King would in truth remain the King in relation to India as well as other nations and the British Commonwealth of Nations including India would continue to be in substance what it is today.

15. Please pass message to Mr. Chifley and to Dr. Burton.

1 Document 70 was repeated to New York for Evatt.

2 A sign here indicates 'word emitted'.

3 The word the text reads 'international'.

4 The word in the text reads "international".

5 A sign here indicates word 'missing'.

6 See Document 65.

[AA: 1838/283, TS899/6/1, i]