A new poll conducted by the National Centre for Social Research (NCSR) has revealed that only 29% of Britons think the monarchy is “very important”, the lowest proportion on record. The poll, which was published on Wednesday, also showed that 25% of respondents said the monarchy was “not at all important” or “should be abolished”.
King Charles faces a rocky future
The poll comes at a time when King Charles, who ascended the throne in February 2022 after the death of his mother Queen Elizabeth II, is preparing for his coronation in June 2023. The coronation, which is expected to cost £50 million, has been met with criticism and protests from anti-monarchy groups, who argue that the ceremony is a waste of public money and a symbol of inequality.
According to the NCSR, King Charles enjoys a surge in personal popularity, with 62% of respondents saying they have a favourable opinion of him, compared to 46% in 2021. However, this does not translate into support for the institution of monarchy, which has seen a steady decline since the 2010s. The NCSR attributed this trend to the changing demographics and values of the British public, as well as the impact of several scandals and controversies involving the royal family.
Younger generations more likely to favour republicanism
One of the most striking findings of the poll is the generational gap in attitudes towards the monarchy. Only 12% of 18- to 34-year-olds said the monarchy was “very important”, compared to 42% of those aged 55 and older. Moreover, 37% of the younger age group said the monarchy was “not at all important” or “should be abolished”, compared to 16% of the older age group.
The NCSR suggested that younger generations are more likely to favour republicanism because they are more diverse, more educated, more secular, and more progressive than their elders. They are also less influenced by the historical and emotional ties that older generations have with the monarchy, and more critical of the privileges and costs associated with the royal family.
Monarchy faces challenges in Scotland and Northern Ireland
Another challenge that the monarchy faces is the growing support for independence in Scotland and Northern Ireland, which could threaten the unity of the United Kingdom. The poll showed that 44% of Scots and 43% of Northern Irish said the monarchy was “not at all important” or “should be abolished”, compared to 22% of English and 24% of Welsh.
The NCSR noted that the monarchy has traditionally been seen as a symbol of the union between the four nations, but this may no longer be the case. The Scottish National Party (SNP), which advocates for independence, has said that it would hold a referendum on the future of the monarchy if Scotland becomes a sovereign state. The SNP has also criticised the coronation plans, saying that they are insensitive to the economic and social hardships caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Monarchy still has some support and relevance
Despite the challenges and criticisms, the monarchy still has some support and relevance in the UK. The poll showed that 26% of respondents said the monarchy was “quite important”, and 19% said it was “fairly important”. The NCSR also pointed out that the monarchy tends to receive a boost in popularity during major events and celebrations, such as jubilees, weddings, and births.
The NCSR argued that the monarchy still provides some benefits to the UK, such as promoting tourism, charity, and diplomacy. It also suggested that the monarchy could adapt and modernise to meet the changing expectations and needs of the public, by becoming more transparent, accountable, and representative.