Britons’ first impressions of King Charles III

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
September 13, 2022, 11:00 AM GMT+0

Three quarters think he has provided good leadership in the aftermath of the Queen’s death, and three in five expect him to be a good king

With King Charles monarch for just a few days now, a new YouGov/Times survey shows that attitudes towards the new king have already shifted substantially.

Asked how they anticipate his reign, 63% say they think Charles will do a good job as king, with only 15% thinking he will do a bad one. This is a marked improvement for the new monarch: in a survey in May Britons were split 32% to 32% on whether or not the-then Prince Charles would make a good king.

Britons also think that Camilla – now Queen Consort – will do a good job in her new role, at 53% to 18%.

One of King Charles’s first acts as monarch was to address the nation about the passing of his mother. Three in five Britons say they saw or heard the King’s speech, with almost universal approval – 94% of those say it was a good speech.

Indeed, three quarters of Britons (73%) say Charles provided good leadership, with just 5% saying he has done a bad job. By contrast, new prime minister Liz Truss’s performance has been less favourably rated, with only 39% saying she has done well and 18% saying she has done badly (42% are unsure, twice the number that say so for the King).

Although a majority expect Charles III to be a good King, there is less certainty that he will be a unifying figure. Fewer than half (45%) believe the new king will do a good job at being a unifying figure for all parts of Britain, although fewer than half as many (19%) think he will do a bad job.

Britons are split on whether King Charles will be a different kind of monarch

While most Britons think Charles will be a good King, many (45%) think he will handle the role of monarch differently to his mother. Four in ten (40%) think he will take the same approach to the job as the departed Queen Elizabeth II.

As Prince of Wales, Charles was outspoken about several issues that were important to him, such as the environment and architecture. Indeed, this willingness to intervene in the public space is what led many royal watchers to suspect he would prove a different kind of monarch in the first place, given his mother’s studious neutrality on all things.

Nevertheless, it seems that Britons generally don’t mind. By 53% to 30%, the public thinks it would be appropriate for the King to publicly express his thoughts on matters that he cares about.

While the King is known to care about issues like the environment and architecture, most Britons believe him to care about their needs as well. More than half (55%) think he seems to care about needs and concerns of everyday people, with only 22% believing this not to be the case.

One in three want King Charles to step down before his own death

Given Prince William’s significantly higher popularity relative to his father over the last few years, many called for the crown to skip a generation when the Queen died. Obviously that moment has come and gone, and Charles is now king. But many Britons still seem keen to get the crown on William’s head sooner than later.

One in three (35%) believe King Charles should retire at some point and hand over to William. It is worth noting that this figure is somewhat higher than the number (25%) who said in a poll in May that the Queen should retire and step down from the throne, rather than remaining monarch for the rest of her life.