What is the best thing about Britain, according to Britons?

Connor IbbetsonData Journalist
May 30, 2022, 2:22 PM GMT+0

The National Health Service and Britain's natural beauty top the list

The Platinum Jubilee is as much a celebration of Britain as it is a celebration of the Queen’s reign. So, ahead of the long weekend of festivities, what do Britons think the best things about the country are?

At the top of the list, 62% say the NHS is among the best things about the country. The NHS is the most popular answer across generations, with at least half in each age group picking the health service but especially those aged 65+ (71%).

Britain’s countryside is the only other aspect to garner more than half of the public’s vote (61%).

Another 37% say that our history and shared national pride are among the best things about Britain today. There is a substantial disagreement among the generations, however, with 51% of those 65 and over citing British history versus 20% of 18 to 24-year-olds.

Despite the upcoming Platinum Jubilee, only 34% say the monarchy and royal family are among the greatest things about Great Britain. The royal family is the answer most likely to divide the generations. Half of those aged 65 and over (51%) say it is among the best things about Britain - but only 9% of those aged 18 to 24 say the same.

Around one in three (32%) say that the UK’s culture of liberty and free speech enjoyed in the country is among the best things about it.

Britain's multicultural and diverse society is among its best assets for 24% of Britons. A third (34%) of 18–24-year-olds list diversity among their best things about Britain – more than twice as many as their elders (14% of those aged 65+).

Some 22% of the public say that Britain's island nature is among its best features. The same proportion thinks that the country's arts and culture, including the BBC, are also among the best things about the nation.

How have attitudes to the best things about the country changed in the last decade?

Comparing the results with the last time YouGov asked - ten years ago, for the Diamond Jubilee - the proportion of Britons seeing the royal family as being among Britain's best assets has dropped eight points, from 42% to 34%. This shift is driven by the young: in 2012, 40% of those aged 18 to 24 said the monarchy was one of the best things about the country, dropping a huge 31 points to just 9% now. Of those aged 65+, opinion has shifted little, only dropping five points (from 55% to 50%).

The most substantial overall change among the general population is in national pride. Half the public (51%) listed it among the best things about the nation in 2012 – 14 points higher than now. Again, this change is most evident among young people, with 51% of 18–24-year-olds previously listed national pride and history in our best assets, compared to only 20% now, another 31-point change.

Not all changes since 2012 are negative, however. The proportion saying that the NHS is among our best features has risen five points from 57% to 62%, and being part of Europe has risen six points from 6% to 12% (despite Britain having since left the EU). The biggest positive change is for Britain being a diverse society, picked by 15% in 2012 and 24% now.

See results from 2012 here and 2022 here