From the archive: Poll reveals that 75 per cent of Britons want to change the male rule of succession—but young people are most against it. Why?by Peter Kellner / March 23, 2011 / Leave a comment
Published in April 2011 issue of Prospect Magazine
Royal wedding fever in teacup form—but just how popular is the monarchy in 2011?
If the public has a message as William prepares to marry Kate, it is this: give the lad a break. In recent years, polls have consistently found that the public would prefer William, rather than Charles, to be Britain’s next monarch. No longer. In YouGov’s latest poll for Prospect, just 37 per cent of respondents thought that William should succeed his grandmother, while 45 per cent think Charles should inherit the crown after more than four decades as Prince of Wales. This compares with a 41-37 per cent margin in William’s favour five years ago, just after Charles announced his engagement to Camilla.
Perhaps the feeling now, in light of William’s upcoming wedding, is that he should enjoy some years of as-normal-as-possible life with Kate before he ascends to the throne. It is said that some of Elizabeth II’s happiest days were spent in the late 1940s as the wife of a young naval officer in Malta, before she became Queen.
Wedding fever has also sapped the radicalism of some republicans. Five years ago 19 per cent wanted neither Charles nor William to become king: they wanted the monarchy scrapped. That number has declined by one third, to just 13 per cent. Neither is it true that the older we get the more we favour the monarchy: the limited appeal of republicanism varies little by age. On the other hand, there are signs that many people would like a monarch of roughly their own age. Charles’s generation—the over 60s—prefer him to William by three-to-two, while the under 40s would slightly prefer William to be king.
That said, there is no wish for a handover anytime soon. YouGov reminded people that the Queen is 85 this April. Even so, 65 per cent want her to stay on, while just 25 per cent think she should step down. Three-quarters of a century after the brief reign of Edward VIII, the notion of abdication still sends a collective…