SYDNEY (dpa) – Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott defended his decision Wednesday to award a knighthood to the spouse of the British monarch, but conceded he should have consulted more widely.
“I take it on the chin,” Abbott told reporters in the wake of widespread criticism about the decision.
“I understand why some people don’t like it. I want to assure people that I have heard and there will be considerably more consultation around these awards in future.”
Abbott bestowed Australia’s highest civil honour on Prince Phillip on Monday, saying the British royal “has been a great servant of Australia.”
Abbott said he consulted with only two senior officials before making the decision.
But the announcement on Australia Day, which marks the arrival of British settlers on the continent in 1788, brought a wave of criticism from politicians and on social media.
Some of Abbott’s Liberal Party colleagues distanced themselves from the decision, while opposition politicians wanted to know why an Australian knighthood should go to British royalty.