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Tea Leaves

Australia's republican quandary: how to pick a president

Voters are in no rush to dump the British monarchy, despite demographic change

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip wave to a crowd of children in Bathurst, Australia, during their royal tour in February 1954. (Getty Images)

When Britain's Queen Elizabeth II first visited Australia in February 1954, three-quarters of the country's then population of 9 million people turned out to see her during her 58-day tour. I was one of them, standing under a hot summer sun among thousands of school students at Sydney's Concord Park -- later renamed Queen Elizabeth Park -- to wave as the monarch and her husband Prince Philip drove past in an open Land Rover.

For me, the royal drive-by was over in a matter of seconds, but the excitement seemed to roll on for weeks as the queen toured the country and delivered 100 speeches in what the National Museum of Australia would later call an "atmosphere of breathless adoration."

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