Links with the Crown are often thought to play a largely 'symbolic' role in the contemporary politics of the Pacific Islands. Yet the Queen appoints Governors-General for three Pacific Island states, albeit acting on advice, and did so in Fiji until that country became a Republic in October 1987. All four countries have witnessed constitutional crises in which the Governor-General has played a critical role. This paper examines those crises, and other occasions that have tested the link with the Crown. It argues that the common minimalist defence of such institutions (influenced by one reading of Walter Bagehot's well-known views) - i.e. that such arrangements tend to work better than republican or presidential alternatives by elevating a relatively disinterested arbiter to broker political transitions - misses the fact that realm territories have tended to face similar and comparable difficulties to those Pacific nations that abandoned the link with the British Crown at independence, and that these issues have been no better or no worse handled by Governors-General than by locally selected Heads of State.