According to a biography of Queen Elizabeth II, she was left ‘tickled and touched’ to have been chosen as Papua New Guinea’s monarch in 1975 while she was on a royal tour of the country.
In Queen of the World, Robert Hardman writes that “The Queen did not become Queen of Papua New Guinea because its people decided to retain her. She is their sovereign because they actually invited her to become their head of state.”
Papua New Guinea became independent on 16 September 1975, having been under Australian administration for the previous 60 years, but decided that it still wanted a monarch as its head of state.
The Royal Family website reports that in the country, The Queen is called “Missis Kwin” or “Mama belong big family” in the creole language, Tok Pisin, spoken there.
“The Queen’s relationship to Papua New Guinea is unique,” The Royal Family website states. “In all her duties relating to Papua New Guinea, she speaks and acts as its Queen, and not as Queen of the United Kingdom.
“For day-to-day issues, she is represented by a Governor-General who carries out the duties of Head of State. Though she does not get involved in Government matters, Her Majesty continues to play an important symbolic role.”
Hardman writes that “It is the one part of the world where The Queen is, effectively, an elected monarch.”
The Queen was told by her private secretary at the time, Martin Charteris, that the people of Papua New Guinea had chosen her especially for the job, and that they wanted “not just any monarch.”
He writes that The Queen was “both tickled and touched” and that she accepted the role straight away.
Papua New Guinea had been a member of the Commonwealth of Nations prior to its independence, as a country under the administration of Australia, but elected to become a Commonwealth country in its own right after it became independent.