Young Britons are turning their backs on the monarchy

Eir NolsoeData Journalist
May 21, 2021, 8:00 AM GMT+0

A greater number of 18-24 year-olds now want an elected head of state rather than a monarchy, with attitudes shifting significantly in recent years

Attitudes among young people to the monarchy have changed substantially since 2019. YouGov data from a number of our 2021 polls on the monarchy so far shows that 41% of 18-24 year olds now say Britain should have an elected head of state, while only 31% would like to see the monarchy continue.

The results, which are likely to be cause for concern for Buckingham Palace, come after a turbulent start to 2021, with Harry and Meghan’s controversial Oprah interview in March and Prince Philip’s passing in April.

Young Britons were still clearly in favour of the monarchy as recently as two years ago. Across our polls in 2019 – the year of Prince Andrew’s catastrophic Newsnight appearance – approaching half of 18-24 year olds (46%) were in favour of the monarchy. Only a quarter (26%) preferred an elected state head.

By 2020, however, the share of 18-24 year olds in favour of the monarchy slipped to 40%, while support for an elected head of state rose to 37% – an increase of 11 points. This was another rocky year for the Royal Family, with the Sussexes announcing their resignation and further allegations that Prince Andrew had misled Emily Maitlis about details relating to his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

Older Britons still strongly support the monarchy

While young people’s views of the monarchy as an institution appear to be souring, changes among the population as a whole have been more subtle. Three in five Britons (61%) still support the monarchy, while a quarter (24%) would prefer an elected head of state. This is a small change from 2019, when two thirds (65%) were behind the firm, and a fifth (19%) would rather get rid of it.

Opinions among people aged 25 to 49 have also only shifted very slightly, with half (53%) now in favour of a monarchy – down from 58%. About a quarter (27%) would like to opt for an elected state head, up 4 points.

Older age groups remain firm in their views. Seven in ten 50-64 year olds (70%) still support the monarchy, which is the same as in 2019 (71%). The same goes for those aged 65 and above, with 81% in favour – similar to two years previously (82%).

See the full results for 2019, 2020 and 2021