King and unkeen countryby Tom Clark / August 15, 2017 / Leave a comment
Published in September 2017 issue of Prospect Magazine
Charles will not have to stand for election to become Britain’s next head of state—and that is just as well, according to an exclusive ICM Unlimited poll for Prospect. It finds that fewer people than ever before now want the heir to the throne to take it up.
When asked what they want to happen on the Queen’s death, only 38 per cent want to see her oldest son inherit the Crown, in keeping with the law and 1,000 years of Royal history—that’s the lowest ever figure recorded. Considerably more voters, 46 per cent, would rather see the monarchy skip a generation and pass straight to William. There is also a substantial minority (16 per cent) who decline to back either Charles or William—double the number from a decade ago when ICM first asked the question.
The potential divisiveness of having Charles on the throne was reaffirmed when voters were asked to imagine the reality, and think about what it would do to their support for the institution of the monarchy. A clear majority (69 per cent) said it would make no difference. But although 7 per cent said they would think about the monarchy more positively than they do now, three times as many respondents—21 per cent—said their attitude to the Crown would be negatively affected.
In a forced choice, the country is split down the middle on the question of “whether, all things considered, you want Charles to become king in due course”—40 per cent say “Yes,” and 38 per cent “No.” While Royalists may be relieved that the Carolinians just edge it on this measure, this ambivalence stands in total contrast to the warm public affection that Elizabeth enjoys in the twilight of her reign. ICM, like many pollsters, doesn’t ask with any regularity whether the public approves of the way the Queen is doing her job, because the answer is so predictable—in a world where more people ordinarily disapprove than approve of all the leading politicians, one survey in 2006 had her chalking up a net positive of 78 percentage points.