King Charles enjoys surge in support but backing for monarchy is at all-time low – The Guardian

With polling moving against the institution, especially among Scots, young people and ethnic minorities, King’s performance is seen as key
It was days before another royal funeral – albeit a ceremonial one for Diana, Princess of Wales, 25 years ago – when Tony Blair realised the monarchy was facing an almost unprecedented existential threat.
“I was worried,” he has since said of a time when the royals were perceived to be coldly indifferent to the public mood. One poll indicated that as many as one in four were in favour of a republic.
History records that the Queen, in particular, turned things around, and this week YouGov polling showed her once unpopular son and heir was enjoying a surge in support of his accession: 63% of people said he would do a “good job”.
The organised side of Britain’s republican movement has decided to stay relatively quiet before the coronation, expected next year, but those wishing to abolish the monarchy may take encouragement from the direction of polling, which has support for the institution at an all-time low.
Groups such as Republic plan to prepare the ground through marketing campaigns, and say they have attracted thousands of new members in recent days, but strategists say their chances of success depends on the new King – a relatively solid performer in recent weeks, but also a man whose tetchiness on two occasions with pens was in marked contrast to the poker-faced skill of his mother.
“The figures showing a surge in support for him speaks to the strength of the institution, which clearly has a hold on people. There’s kind of a rally around the flag effect, which I think will endure,” said Gabriel Milland, a polling expert, partner at Portland Communications and former No 10 adviser.
“Assuming his kingship proceeds smoothly, it’s hard to see this country turning against monarchy given that the only times that has happened is when things have gone badly for the monarch, like Victoria’s retreat from public life after the death of Albert, the abdication crisis and death of Diana.”
As put by Prof Sir John Curtice, the UK’s pre-eminent political scientist, the “broad headline” since the National Centre for Social Research (NCSR) began charting attitudes towards the monarchy in 1994 is that about two-thirds say it’s either very or quite important for Britain to have a monarchy, while somewhere between 10 and 20% either say it isn’t important at all, or that it should be abolished. But it is the variation within those figures that may be crucial.
Despite fluctuations, such as after the death of Diana and a surge around the diamond jubilee, Curtice notes that the NCSR’s most recent survey found that the core group who believed the monarchy was “very or quite important” was down to 55%.
“Why is that? Probably, one: Prince Andrew, and two: Harry and Meghan. There’s been a wee bit of background noise. The crucial point is that while there is a certain sense of stability to support the monarchy, it does vary, and it does seem to vary in response to circumstance. So I think it’s better to categorise it as a contingent support rather than unquestioning support,” he added.
Among other surveyors of public attitudes and identity, Sunder Katwala of British Future said that, beyond a rock-solid core of support, the thinktank’s polling found there were three areas the monarchy had to worry about: Scotland, Britain’s ethnic minorities and the young. Fewer than half of people in Scotland said they supported retaining the monarchy. Across Britain, only 40% of 18- to 24-year-olds backed keeping the monarchy, while 37% of people from an ethnic minority did so.
Not that republicans should assume future generations will automatically carry with them hostility or indifference to the royals, said Katwala, who has previously “talked himself” out of being a republican.
“What republicans have been bad at, though are getting a lot better at, is tone of voice. [They have] to understand why people don’t think of this as a slam-dunk issue just because it’s about an accident of birth or seems unfair. If you can’t understand that it’s not so simple, then what republicans are saying to people is that ‘you’re all a bunch of propaganda-driven sheep’.
“So a softer voice really helps, and you could see gains if republicanism was allowed to come out and be a source of slightly disloyal opposition that would call for transparency on things like royal finances, one that was allowed to ask questions in parliament.”
Either way, a de facto referendum on the monarchy would continue in the form of the NCSR tracking data, he said.
Katwala added: “If you lose the public polling then everyone behaves differently and the media behaves differently, though what you don’t get is a focus point on a moment [to challenge the institution]. This certainly isn’t the right moment because of grieving, but the coronation will have to be the moment when people get to say: ‘This is the alternative.’”


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