Royal Family Harry Meghan

FFS explains: How popular is the monarchy?

Meghan Markle’s interview with Oprah Winfrey sparked fresh debate over the role and future of the monarchy in the UK. 

The Duchess of Sussex complained of a lack of support from the royal institution after her mental health was affected by sustained criticism by the tabloid press. She also alleged that an unnamed royal family member had questioned the skin colour of her son Archie before he was born. 

Ferret Fact Service took a look at just how popular the royal family is in the UK, and Scotland. 

Do people in the UK want to keep the monarchy?

According to UK-wide polling, the majority of people are in favour of the monarchy. 

The latest poll from YouGov on 8 and 9 March 2021, was taken after the Sussex’s interview. In it, 63 per cent of those surveyed across the UK wanted to keep the monarchy, while 25 per cent preferred an elected head of state. 

This is a small change from a previous YouGov survey in October 2020 which asked the same question.

It found 67 per cent of respondents wanted to keep the monarchy, with 21 per cent preferring to change to an elected head of state. 

An Opinium survey in February found 55 per cent favoured a continued monarchy. Twenty-nine per cent supported republicanism, at its highest level since the company began tracking such attitudes in 2015.

Support for the monarchy was at 57 per cent in a Survation poll on 9 March 2021, while 29 per cent backed a republic.

A 9 March poll produced by JL Partners for the Daily Mail asked whether the monarchy should be abolished, with respondents asked to choose one of five answers from strongly agree to strongly disagree. It found 29 per cent in favour of abolition, while 50 per cent supported the monarchy’s existence. 

Ipsos Mori asked a different question between 3 and 4 March 2021, surveying whether people thought it would be better or worse for Britain if the monarchy was abolished. 

Of those polled, 17 per cent thought the UK would be better, while 43 per cent said it would be worse. Thirty-four per cent of those asked said it would make no difference. This represents a small shift away from support for the monarchy since the question was asked in 2018. 

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What do younger people think about the monarchy?

Looking beyond the headline figures in recent polls, it appears there may be an age divide regarding views on the monarchy. 

The March 2021 YouGov poll found that support for the monarchy is more significant in older people, with 77 per cent of those 65 and over wanted the institution to continue, with just 17 per cent backing its abolition. 

Just 37 per cent of 18 to 24 year olds backed the monarchy’s continuation and 42 per cent supported an elected head of state.

The JL Partners poll showed an even more extreme age divide with 42 per cent of 18 to 24s in favour of the monarchy ending and just 21 per cent supporting its continuation. Of those aged 65 and over, just 16 per cent supported abolition compared to 74 per cent backing the monarchy.

The Survation survey found a slight lead for republicanism in 18 to 34 year olds, with 42 per cent for abolition of the monarchy to 39 per cent supporting the royal institution. 

All these polls had fairly small sub-samples, so caution should be taken in interpreting too much from them.

The YouGov poll found younger people are also more likely to support Prince Harry and Meghan Markle over the royal family in their current dispute (48 per cent to 15). Fifty-five per cent of those 65 and older support the royal family in the row, with just nine per cent more sympathetic to Harry and Meghan. 

Does the public back Prince Harry and Meghan Markle or the royal family?

YouGov polled Britons before and after the bombshell interview broadcast on 8 March, to see where sympathies lay in the public. 

The survey found a small amount of movement in attitudes toward the respective sides after the broadcast, but more support remained with the royal family. 

Before the sit-down interview, 38 per cent of people said their sympathies lay with the Queen and royal family, while 18 per cent backed the Sussexs. Afterwards, 36 per cent were behind the royal family, while support for Harry and Meghan increased to 22 per cent. 

What about Scots? 

Looking within the poll results, we can get a picture of what people in Scotland think of the monarchy. 

Consistent polling has found that more Scots support the monarchy than want to abolish it, but it may be among the lowest supporting regions in the UK.

Forty-four per cent supported the monarchy in the Opinium poll, with 37 per cent backing a republic. This was the smallest margin in favour of the monarchy across the regions included in the poll. 

The Survation poll showed significant support for republicanism, with Scotland at the second highest level (37 per cent) after London. 

YouGov’s post-interview poll also shows Scotland with the lowest regional level of monarchy support, at 50 per cent, and the highest support for republicanism at 33 per cent. 

Again, these results should be treated with caution because of the small sub-sample size, but they do seem to suggest that support for the royal institution in Scotland is lower than many other areas of the UK.

Photo thanks to iStock/AdrianHancu.

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