Harry and Meghan’s popularity ticks up ahead of Oprah interview

Eir NolsoeData Journalist
March 04, 2021, 12:38 PM UTC

Half of Britons believe the press are overly critical of Meghan, while three in ten people say it treats Kate too favourably

Prince Harry and the Duchess of Sussex’s tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey will air in the UK on 8 March, after the couple confirmed to the Queen that they will not return as working members of The Royal Family. Their departure and media appearances have attracted criticism in the tabloids, with Good Morning Britain presenter Piers Morgan commenting in the Daily Mail that “the only service they know is self-service”.

But new YouGov data shows that the couple’s popularity ratings have actually improved. About half of the public (53%) now have a positive opinion of Prince Harry, while two fifths (41%) regard him negatively, meaning his net rating is at +12. It is up from +3 (47% positive vs 44% negative) on 18 February – the day before the announcement to the Queen.

A greater proportion of people still view Meghan negatively (53%) rather than positively (39%), with her net rating at -14. Her ratings have seen a small boost of 5 points from 12 February, when 55% of the public had an unfavourable opinion of her while 36% reported the opposite.

But her popularity shows considerable improvement since October last year when her net rating was -26 (33% positive vs 59% negative). It’s worth noting, however, that the latest data was recorded before the bullying allegations against her by former palace staff.

Queen Elizabeth II’s popularity remains high. Four in five Britons (80%) have a positive view of her, while only 16% dislike her, meaning her net score is +64. It has dropped by 7 points since October but no change occurred between 18 February and 2 March following Harry and Meghan's announcement. 

Many people say the press is too tough on Meghan and Harry

Additional research shows that many Britons feel that news outlets are unfairly critical in their coverage of Harry and Meghan compared with other members of the Royal Family.

Half of the public (50%) say the press is overly critical of Meghan, while a quarter (25%) say the coverage is balanced, and a small minority (9%) deem it too favourable.

Many similarly think Prince Harry is treated unfairly, with 44% saying the press is overly tough on him. Three in ten people (30%) believe his coverage has been fair, and like with Meghan, only a one-digit figure (9%) say it’s too positive.

In contrast, only a small minority believe journalists are too critical of other royals such as Prince Philip (8%), Prince William (7%), Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (5%) and the Queen (4%).

People are most inclined to say the press is overly favourable towards Kate (29%), Prince William (27%) and the Queen (26%).

Opinion is split when it comes to Prince Andrew, who resigned from all public duties over his association with convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein. Despite this, a fifth of Britons (18%) say the press is overly favourable in their treatment of him, while a similar proportion (17%) believe it is overly critical. Two fifths (39%) say it’s fair and balanced.

See the full results here and here