US Elections Editor

Support for the Queen staying in power for the rest of her life has dropped significantly since March, and confidence in Prince Charles is up

Last week, it was announced that the Queen would not attend this year’s annual meeting of Commonwealth leaders. The November meeting will take place in Sri Lanka and Buckingham Palace cited the long-haul flight in their decision to send Prince Charles instead. The news came weeks after the Netherlands’ 75-year-old monarch, Queen Beatrix, abdicated to pass on the throne to her eldest son, Prince Willem-Alexander. Queen Elizabeth II is 87 years old.

New Yougov research reveals public opinion has shifted on the quesion of whether the Queen should remain Britain's monarch until she dies. 

In March, YouGov found that 64% of Britons thought that the Queen should stay in power for the rest of her life. Since then, support for the Queen staying queen for life has dropped 11% to 53% and now a third of the public (33%) says she should at some point retire and step down.

In addition, while a slim majority (51%) thought in March that, even if she became ill and other members of the Royal family had to take on some of her duties, the Queen should remain monarch - now, only 43% think she should remain and almost half (48%) think she should abdicate in these circumstances.

These results come as confidence in Prince Charles has seen a marked rise over the past year. In this month last year, public opinion was split on the Prince of Wales' ability to serve as king: 37% said he will make a good king and 37% said he will not, showing virtually no change from a similar YouGov poll taken in April 2011. Now, fully half of the nation (50%) say Charles will make a good king, and only 23% say he will not.

There has also been a rise since March (from 44% to 47%) in support for Charles - and not Prince William - becoming the next King. This shows a continuing shift in Charles' direction, after a 2011 poll around the time of the royal wedding that showed the British public preferred William to Charles for the next king 47% to 34%.

The public is less enthused about the idea of a Queen Camilla, however, as nearly three times as many (46% to 16%) think she should be Princess Consort -and not Queen - if Charles becomes King. Camilla is also the only royal in the immediate royal family of whom more Britons think she has made a negative contribution to the British royal institution than think she has made a positive one. 

There would seem to be plenty of room for optimism in public opinion about the more distant future of Britain's royalty, however. At 82% and 74% respectively, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have the highest net ratings of all.

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