The monarchy sees a minor improvement in public opinion

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
September 17, 2022, 11:00 PM GMT+0

Young people continue to be far less likely to approve of the institution than their elders

YouGov political tracker data on the monarchy reveals a minor boost for the institution across several measures, likely a result of the outpouring of affection for the late Queen Elizabeth II and accompanying celebration of the institution.

Do Britons want to keep the monarchy?

Two thirds of Britons (67%) say they think the UK should continue to have a monarchy, up five points since the Platinum Jubilee in May. Only 20% say we should have an elected head of state instead.

The events surrounding the Queen’s death do seem to have strengthened many Britons’ stances on the issue. Currently, 83% of those who think Britain should continue to have a monarchy say they feel strongly about this, as do 71% of those who want Britain to become a republic. In May, those figures had been 77% and 61% respectively.

There continues to be an enormous generational difference in attitudes to the monarchy. While fully 86% of Britons aged 65 and over say we should continue to have a monarchy, this falls to just 47% among 18-24 year olds. Even this latter figure is probably temporarily inflated by current events: just 33% had voiced their desire to keep the crown in May, at the time of the Platinum Jubilee, and the average figure from 2020 onwards prior to the Queen’s death had been 35%.

It is also worth noting that there was no commensurate decrease in the number of young people wanting a republic in response to the passing of the Queen.

Is the monarchy a benefit to Britain?

There has been a six point increase in the number of people who believe the institution of the monarchy is good for Britain, to 62%. Just 12% actively think the crown is bad for the nation, while 20% think it is neither good nor bad.

Again, old and young Britons have very different views. Older Britons overwhelmingly say the crown is good for the country (82%), but just 32% of young people say the same.

The Royal Family are now also more likely to be seen as good value for money (62%, up from 55%), and more now describe themselves as proud of the institution (55%, up from 47%).

Will the monarchy last, and do Britons want a referendum on its future?

More people are now sure that the monarchy is here to stay. At the time of the jubilee, Britons were split 39% to 41% on whether or not there would still be a monarch in 100 years’ time. Those figures have since shifted to 52% thinking there will be and 30% thinking there won’t be.

There is certainly little appetite for putting the question of the crown’s existence to the public. Just 22% of Britons want to hold a referendum on the monarchy, with almost three times as many (64%) opposed.

Only republicans – unsurprisingly – tend to want a referendum (76%). But across all social groups, desire for a vote is limited.

How popular are the royals?

As with the institution, support for the individual royals is up across the board – with the exception of Prince Andrew.

The new King has seen the greatest improvement in his reputation, with the number holding a positive view of ‘King Charles’ (70%) up 16pts from ‘Prince Charles’ (54%) in May.

Prince Harry has seen a similar improvement in the public eye, with the 47% who now have a positive view of the Duke of Sussex up 15pts since May. However, with 46% still holding a negative view, this merely upgrades his status from ‘unpopular’ to ‘divisive’.

Harry’s wife, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, remains unpopular, with 59% holding an unfavourable view of her compared to 30% with a favourable one (although this latter figure is up seven points).

Unsurprisingly, Prince Andrew continues to be the most unpopular royal. Fully 87% of Britons hold the Duke of York in low esteem (from 85% in May), while just 7% have a high opinion of him (from 5%).

With the Queen now departed, Prince William takes over the mantle of the most popular royal, with 84% having a positive view of him and just 9% a negative one. Wife Catherine is almost as well-liked, with 80% feeling warmly towards her and 8% coldly.

As with everything else royal-related, young Britons tend to have a more negative view than their elders. When it comes to the new King, 18-24 year olds are divided, with 41% having a positive view and 43% a negative one. Among those aged 65 and above, those figures stand at 87% and 12%, respectively.

See the latest results here

Photo: Getty