Platinum Jubilee: The charts that make grim reading for the Royal Family

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·Data and Politics News Editor, Yahoo News UK
·6-min read
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Young people's opinions of the Royal Family are low, and getting lower (PA Images)
Young people's opinions of the Royal Family are low, and getting lower. (PA Images)

The UK is getting ready to enjoy the four-day bank holiday weekend to celebrate the Queen's Platinum Jubilee.

Among the bumper calendar of festivities will be a televised pop concert at Buckingham Palace, the Platinum Jubilee pageant and a neighbourhood Big Jubilee Lunch where members of the public are invited to celebrate together in a country-wide street party.

But it appears unlikely that many Brits — particularly younger people — will use the extra two days off as a chance to celebrate 70 years of the Queen's reign.

Amid a series of royal shocks and scandals, particularly Prince Andrew's settlement with Virginia Giuffre over historical sexual abuse allegations, young adults' support of the Royal Family has tumbled.

In July 2019, nearly half of 18-24 year-olds said they thought having the monarchy was a good thing for Britain, according to polling by YouGov. In November 2021, that figure had dropped to one in five.

Over the same period, the proportion of this age group who said the monarchy was a bad thing for Britain almost doubled from 9 to 17%.

Young people's opinion of the monarchy is getting worse (Yahoo News UK/Flourish/YouGov)
Young people's opinion of the monarchy is getting worse. (Yahoo News UK/Flourish/YouGov)

Read more: Prince Charles faces backlash over refusal to apologise for historic genocide in Canada

In a further worrying sign for the future of the royals, more young people now think Britain should have an elected head of state rather than a monarchy for the first time.

Opinions on the issue have shifted significantly among 18-24s in recent years, with younger people preferring a monarch as recently as three years ago.

Young people would prefer an elected head of state to a monarch (Yahoo News UK/Flourish/YouGov)
Young people would prefer an elected head of state to a monarch. (Yahoo News UK/Flourish/YouGov)

Read more: Why does the Queen have two birthdays?

In 2019, a quarter of this age group said they would prefer an elected head of state. By 2021, the figure was 41%, compared to 31% who would prefer a monarch.

The stark change in attitudes has coincided with a tumultuous time for 'The Firm'.

In late 2019, Prince Andrew gave his disastrous interview to Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis.

The Duke of York's apparent attempt to distance himself from his friendship with convicted child sex offender Jeffrey Epstein backfired spectacularly.

File photo dated 21/06/18 of the Duke of York and The Queen at Royal Ascot. Prince Andrew is staying with his mother the Queen in Scotland. The lawyer representing the Duke of York's accuser has warned against anyone ignoring the US courts as he claimed the royal's legal team have
The Duke of York is pictured with The Queen at Royal Ascot in 2018. (PA Images)

His claim that he maintained a relationship with a known sex offender because of his “tendency to be too honourable” was savaged by the press, as was his apparent lack of empathy for Epstein's victims.

The difficulties for Andrew carried on well into this year when the highly publicised trial with Giuffre was held in New York.

It is believed the settlement he reached with Giuffre was worth millions of pounds but he still denies ever having sex with her.

Since the scandal exploded he has been stripped of his royal duties by the Queen and has taken a back seat in royal affairs.

He did make an appearance during the Prince Philip memorial in March when he was seen walking together with the Queen.

Watch: Prince Andrew's Newsnight interview – "I have no recollection of meeting Virginia Giuffre"

The Harry and Meghan effect

In 2020, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced their decision to step down as senior royals and to "work to become financially independent".

The split turned toxic for the family, with months of hostile briefings in the press and rumours of an unfixable rift between Harry and his brother, William, and father, Charles.

Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex(R) and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex(L) stand on the stage at the British High Commissioner residency in Johannesburg where they  will meet with Graca Machel, widow of former South African president Nelson Mandela, in Johannesburg, on October 2, 2019. - Prince Harry recalled the hounding of his late mother Diana to denounce media treatment of his wife Meghan Markle, as the couple launched legal action against a British tabloid for invasion of privacy. (Photo by Michele Spatari / AFP) (Photo by MICHELE SPATARI/AFP via Getty Images)
Prince Harry and Meghan are the only members of the Royal Family who are more popular among younger people. (Getty)

The couple's explosive interview with Oprah in 2021 engulfed the royals in further controversy, after Meghan claimed there were "several conversations" within the monarchy about how dark her baby's skin might be.

The Duchess of Sussex further alleged that she was refused help after her mental health deteriorated to the point she "didn't want to be alive anymore".

Opinion on the Sussexes is sharply divided by age.

For the senior royals – The Queen, Prince Charles, Camilla, William and Kate – people are more likely to have a high opinion of them the older they get.

Older people have the most positive opinion about all the senior royals (Yahoo News UK/Flourish/YouGov)
Older people have the most positive opinion about all the senior royals. (Yahoo News UK/Flourish/YouGov)

For Harry and Meghan, the opposite is true.

The Sussexes are popular among 18-24s, with more than half having a positive opinion of both Meghan and Harry.

Harry and Meghan are more popular among younger people (Yahoo News UK/Flourish/YouGov)
Harry and Meghan are more popular among younger people. (Yahoo News UK/Flourish/YouGov)

Among over 65s, 21% have a positive opinion of Prince Harry, and just 13% have a positive opinion of Meghan.

The figures suggest that the schism between the Sussexes and the rest of the Royal Family are part of the reason young people to turn their back on the monarchy.

It is believed the Sussexes will make an appearance during the Platinum Jubilee celebrations, but they will not appear on the famous Buckingham Palace balcony during the Trooping of the Colour.

The future of the monarchy

When it comes to Charles as King, the public as a whole is not convinced, with young people once again least likely to be supportive.

A third of people think Charles will be a good King, dropping to 17% among 18-24s. (Yahoo News UK/Flourish/YouGov)
A third of people think Charles will be a good King, dropping to 17% among 18-24s. (Yahoo News UK/Flourish/YouGov)

Overall, 34% of people think Charles will be a good king, compared to 17% of 18-24s. People in this age group are also most likely to think he will be a bad king, at 48%.

Charles has recently had to step up his royal duties as the Queen has struggled with mobility issues, most notably presiding over the May opening of parliament, a duty usually strictly reserved for the reigning monarch.

As to whether Camilla should become queen, young people are apathetic.

Asked whether she should become queen, have the title of princess consort or have no title at all, 40% of 18-24s said they didn't know.

The decline in support for the royals is by no means terminal, but staying relevant to future generations is something that needs to be addressed urgently.

This will become particularly important when the line of succession passes to Charles.

The Queen is without doubt the most stabilising force of the House of Windsor, and the Royal Family needs to be prepared to deal with a future without her.

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