Letter From The Palace
LETTER FROM SIR MARTIN CHARTERIS DATED 25 NOVEMBER 1975
PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL
25th November, 1975.
My dear Governor-General
Since last I wrote I have received two letters from you, those dated 17th November and 20th November, both of these are individually of great historic interest and when taken together I think they provide a clear, full, and, if I may use the phrase with respect, most convincing account of the psychological and actual pressures to which you were subject when you took action on 11th November, and of the reason why no other course was open to you.
The Queen is most grateful to you for this account which she has, of course, read with the closest interest and, incidentally, with a great deal more knowledge and understanding than most observers in this country have at their disposal when they comment on what happened. I have still not found anyone here with knowledge prepared to say what else you could have done.
I am of course delighted that you should have received such a forthright and unequivocal letter of approbation from Bob Menzies. It must have been reassuring to find that he thinks history will credit you with having acted rightly.
In your letter of 17th November you speak of your own future as Governor-General. May I say first that there is relief here that you have decided not to do anything precipitate, such as announcing your intention to resign whatever the outcome of the election may be. It seems to me that to do so could only be interpreted as a belief on your part that you had acted, incorrectly. At this moment I have no doubt that you would be right to forget everything that was said by everybody in the heat of the moment, and of course above all not to take anything personally.
You must of course make your own decision whether or not to resign after the election and when either Mr. Fraser remains in office or you have recommissioned Mr. Whitlam to be Prime Minister. This, as you say, must depend on how you judge the feeling in the country. I am bound to say, however, that at 12,000 miles distance it appears that the same arguments which Mr. Fraser deployed against your announcing your decision to resign now would apply with almost equal force after the election.
If Mr. Whitlam is returned I concede that it may well be very difficult for you to work with him but if he is returned he ought to be extremely grateful and I suppose it is not impossible that his animus would be tempered in the flush of victory.
May he not also see political advantage in appearing magnanimous in victory? It may be worth giving him the chance so to act.
If you remain Governor-General or, indeed, if you do not, you will be welcome here at any time that is convenient and practical for you to come. I hope you will be able to stick to the France/Sandringham plan as this would be the most agreeable for you and Lady Kerr and also have the advantage of being less dramatic than a special visit to England for an audience.
SIGNED: MARTIN CHARTERIS
His Excellency the Governor-General of Australia.
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