Text Format of the Kerr Letters

Text Format of the Kerr Letters


On the 14th July 2020, the National Archives opened the sealed packages comprising correspondence between Sir John Kerr, Governor-General of Australia between 11 July 1974 and 8 December 1977 and the Private Secretary to the Queen, Sir Martin Charteris.

A representative from the Australian Monarchist League was present at the unsealing and we were provided with a pdf copy of the letters.

Contained in the sealed packages are 211 letters and annexures. Included in this section are just a few of the letters dated from August 1975 up until the end of the year covering the tumultuous events of the Dismissal.

We have transcribed the letters into text to make it easier for our readers. This is particularly useful as many of the pdf pages are faded. In transcribing the letters, we have corrected errors, most of which resulted from the transcribing. Any errors that may be contained in the original letters have been corrected without reference.

The letters show a man having to deal with a political crisis which could harm the nation brought on by a stubborn prime minister confronted by an aggressive leader of the opposition with both not prepared to give way. His being able to speak candidly by way of the letters with the Palace would have helped him work his way through the constitutional and political complexities facing him so that he made the right decision in the interests of the nation.

The letters also clearly show that the Palace was suggesting caution and that the final decision Sir John Kerr came to was his alone and that he did not inform the Queen beforehand. 

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