What do ethnic minority Britons think of the monarchy and royal family?

Tanya AbrahamResearch Director of Political and Social Research
May 03, 2023, 12:59 PM GMT+0

Ethnic minority Britons are divided about the monarchy in terms of its overall image and the future

The royal family’s attitudes towards ethnic minority people have been called into question in recent years, most notably regarding the institution’s acceptance – or lack thereof – of mixed-race Meghan Markle as Prince Harry’s wife. The now Duchess of Sussex revealed in 2021 that there was concern among royals about the potential skin colour of the couple’s son Archie, while Prince Harry has criticised relatives for failing to condemn what he considers colonial undertones in media coverage of his partner.

So what do Britain’s ethnic minorities make of the royals in return? Now, on the eve of the coronation of King Charles, YouGov research is able for the first time to reveal attitudes towards the monarchy and the wider royal family among Britain’s minority population.

Ethnic minority Britons are divided on keeping the monarchy

Ethnic minority Britons are roughly split down the line on whether Britain should continue to have a monarch (38%) or an elected head of state instead (39%).

Unsurprisingly, therefore, attitudes towards the institution of the monarchy itself – as well as the royal family – are also divided. When it comes to the former, ethnic minority Britons are split between 41% with a positive view and 43% with a negative view, while for the latter the divide is 45% to 42%.

Despite this, slightly more think the monarchy is good for Britain (34%) than think it is bad (23%), while 33% say neither. Likewise, pride (29%) slightly outweighs embarrassment (22%) towards the monarchy, although more still feel neither emotion (39%).

While ethnic minority Britons are split on whether there should be a monarchy, more think it likely the monarchy will have ceased to exist in Britain within 100 years (45%), than expect it to continue (36%).

Ethnic minority Britons are split on King Charles personally, but tend to think he is doing a good job so far

As with attitudes to the monarchy in general, ethnic minority Britons are split on the King himself. Overall, around two in five (43%) have a positive view of King Charles, while 40% have a negative view of him.

Despite his imminent promotion, his popularity trails behind Prince William (of whom 54% have a positive view), Princess Anne (52%) and Catherine, Princess of Wales (50%), the three most popular royal figures.

These ratings are less favourable when compared to the wider British population. The latest data shows that 59% of all Britons have a positive view of King Charles. Princess Anne, Prince William, and Catherine, Duchess of Wales, are likewise the most popular three royals among the wider public, but with much higher favourability ratings of 70-72%.

Despite Prince Harry and Meghan Markle being significantly more unpopular than the King among the wider population (at 29% and 24%, respectively), among ethnic minority Britons their individual ratings aren’t too far off those of the next monarch, with 40-41% feeling positively towards them.

Black Britons are significantly more likely to have a positive view of Meghan (63%) and Prince Harry (60%).

Despite being split on the King personally, eight months into his reign more ethnic minority people (42%) tend to think he is doing a good job so far than bad (26%). However, this is surpassed by the 48% who think Prince William will do a good job as King when the time comes, compared to 23% who think he will do a bad job.

As with the wider British population, older ethnic minority people are more positive towards the monarchy

Previous YouGov research of the British public as a whole has consistently shown that younger generations take a more negative view of the royal family than their elders, and this remains the case among ethnic minority Britons.

Among ethnic minority Britons in age groups over 50, there is a slight preference for keeping the monarchy, at 45-46% support versus 38-39% who prefer to have an elected head of state. Their younger counterparts would rather have an elected head of state, and by a wider margin – 43% say so, compared to 30% who want to retain the monarchy.

Likewise, over-50 ethnic minority Britons are more likely to see the monarchy as good for Britain (48-49%) than 18-24 year olds (19%).

Opinion of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle among the wider population rises or falls directly according to Britons’ age – the older Britons are, the more likely they are to dislike them.

When it comes to 18 to 24 year olds across the country, they are largely divided in their opinions of the couple: 38% are positive towards Harry while 39% are negative, and for Meghan 37% are positive compared to 41% who are negative.

In contrast, ethnic minority Britons of the same age tend to feel positively towards Meghan (46% positive versus 35% negative), whereas Harry experiences the opposite: 34% are positive towards the Duke of Sussex, while 47% are negative.

However, unlike among the wider population, Prince Harry’s popularity is not highest among the younger ethnic minority Britons. He is in fact more popular among 25-49 year olds (divided 40% positive to 44% negative) and among 50-64 year olds the number of people with a favourable opinion of him actually outweighs the number with an unfavourable one (52% versus 41%).

The oldest ethnic minority Britons – those aged 65 and above – nevertheless have the most negative view of Prince Harry (60%) as well as Meghan (64%), as is the case with older people in Britain as a whole (82-83%).