Royal Wedding: What Britain thinks

Hannah ThompsonYouGovLabs and UK Public Opinion Website Editor
April 28, 2011, 2:00 AM GMT+0

With only days remaining until the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton, a YouGov / Cambridge University survey has found that seven in ten British adults (70%) felt that the wedding would have a positive effect on how people view the monarchy and nearly three quarters (73%) felt it would have a positive effect on how people view Britain.

  • Prince William is regarded as the most popular royal.
  • Nearly three quarters feel the wedding will have a positive effect on how people view Britain.
  • Over three quarters think Prince William will make a ‘good king’.
  • Nearly half say they will watch the wedding on television.
  • More than half say that they are either ‘not very’ or ‘not at all’ interested in the wedding.
  • Over a third think Blair and Brown should have been invited, but a greater number think they should not have been invited.

When surveyed, a majority of respondents (56%) said that they were either not very interested (30%) or not at all interested (26%) in the wedding. However, men and women were divided on the issue with over half of British women saying that they were either very or fairly interested (57%), but the figures fall to fewer than three in ten (29%) for British men.

Despite events failing to capture the interest of the entire nation nearly half of respondents (47%) said they would either probably or definitely watch the wedding on television, rising to 61% of women.

Regarding the level of media interest, more than half of British adults (55%) felt there had been too much media coverage of the royal wedding, though nearly two fifths (38%) felt the media had ‘got the balance about right’.

Despite the level of disinterest in the wedding, Prince William remains a popular figure. Over three quarters of respondents (76%) felt that he would make a ‘good king’ with nearly two thirds (63%) believing that Kate Middleton would make a ‘good queen’.

Two thirds of respondents (66%) believed that there would still be a monarchy in 100 years’ time with 69% thinking that the British monarchy should continue, compared to just one in five (20%) who thought that we should instead have an elected head of state.

When compared to other leading members of the Royal Family, Prince William emerged as the most popular. His net positivity score* of +78% was higher even than Queen Elizabeth herself on +71%, with Kate Middleton just behind on +70% to complete the top three.

Prince Harry (+63%) and Princess Anne (+55%) were the only other members of the Royal Family to achieve a score above +50%

Prince Charles was further down the list with a score of +19%, just ahead of his father Prince Philip on +17%. The three least popular members on our list were Prince Edward (+2%), Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall (-9%) and Prince Andrew (-13%), with the latter recently embroiled in controversy.

The list of guests invited to the wedding has attracted some attention. Former Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown both failed to be sent an invitation. 34% thought Blair should have been invited, compared to 48% who disagreed. For Brown, 36% thought he should have been invited compared to 45% who felt he should not. The decision to invite another former Prime Minister, John Major, who is a guardian of Princes William and Harry, was supported by 41% of the population, while 38% disagreed.

In contrast, the decision to invite the current Prime Minister, David Cameron was more strongly supported. 72% felt he should have been invited, compared to only 14% who felt he should not. A further 54% felt Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg should be invited, with 28% opposed. London Mayor Boris Johnson was another political figure to receive positive support. Half of respondents (50%) believed he should be invited, while under a third (29%) disagreed.

Among foreign heads of state, over six in ten (60%) felt that US President Barack Obama should have been invited, with fewer than a quarter (22%) disagreeing. Support for French President Nicholas Sarkozy was far less clear cut. 40% thought he should have been invited while 33% thought he should not.

An invitation for Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, the most significant member of the Royal Family not be invited, was supported by just under half of respondents (49%), but 30% disagreed.

From a list of celebrities, Sir Elton John was the only one for whom a greater proportion of respondents thought he should be invited (48%) than should not (30%). David Beckham (38% versus 40%), Rowan Atkinson (32% versus 40%) and Ben Fogle (29% versus 36%) all fared less well. Tara Palmer-Tomkinson was the least popular of the celebrity invitees tested. 54% felt she should not have received an invite compared to only 21% who felt she should.

Nearly half of British adults (46%) believed that senior politicians attending the wedding should wear morning dress compared to 35% who felt they should instead wear a normal suit.

The weeks of preparation for the couple’s big day seem to have not had any discernible effect on the nation’s feelings. Back in November, immediately after the announcement of the engagement, 48% of those questioned said they were ‘pleased’ by the announcement, with exactly the same number saying they were ‘indifferent’. This week the proportion who said they were ‘pleased’ that William was to marry Kate remained at 48%, while those who felt ‘indifferent’ had risen just 1% to 49%.

Joe Twyman, Director of Political and Social Research at YouGov, said ‘Although the Royal Wedding may not have captured the interest of the entire nation, it is clear that there is support for Prince William and his bride to be. There is a strong feeling that their marriage is a good thing for both Britain generally and the monarchy specifically.’

For all enquiries and further information please contact Joe Twyman, Director of Political and Social Research at YouGov. (Email: / Twitter: @JoeTwyman)

* Net positivity score = (Very positive % + Fairly positive %) – (Very negative % + Fairly negative %)

YouGov surveyed 2,666 adults online from 26th – 27th April 2011. The data have been weighted to be representative of the British adult population as a whole.

Full results from the YouGov monarchy survey can be found here.

The full YouGov@Cam Royal Wedding Dossier can be found here.

YouGov@Cambridge is a new kind of university think-tank, uniting world experts with YouGov polling in one place. To coincide with the Royal Wedding, the new YouGov@Cambridge website will launch on Thursday 28th April 2011. Here you can find an archive of the latest research material plus editorials from Charles Clarke, David Blunkett, F.W De Klerk, Baroness Perry, Baroness Neuberger, FT commentator Sue Cameron and POLIS Director Andrew Gamble.

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