Many Americans, Particularly Women and Those Older, Have Opinions About the British Royal Family

New York, N.Y. – April 19, 2011 – A new Harris Poll finds that Americans have a complicated relationship with the British royal family. When asked how closely they have been following the news surrounding Prince William and Kate Middleton’s recent engagement and upcoming wedding, fewer than one in five U.S. adults say they have been following it closely (18%), while the majority describe themselves as not following this news closely (82%), with 42% saying they have not been following it at all. Similarly, when asked how likely they are to watch live coverage of the royal wedding when it takes place in April, only three in ten Americans say they are likely to do so (30%) yet many Americans have opinions about the successor to the British throne and Kate Middleton’s class status.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,379 adults surveyed online between March 7 and 14, 2011 by Harris Interactive.

Differences by Gender and Generation

Although the majority of Americans overall say that they have not been following Prince William and Kate Middleton’s engagement and upcoming wedding closely (82%) and that they are not likely to watch live coverage of the royal wedding (66%), there are differences in what men and women say. Not surprisingly, women are more likely to describe themselves as following the engagement and wedding news closely (24% say this, compared to just 11% of men who do). Similarly, two in five women say they are likely to watch live coverage of the royal wedding (41%) compared to fewer than one in five men who say the same (18%). There are also interesting generational differences-the oldest group of Americans, Matures, who are 66 years and older, are more likely than younger generations to both be following news of the engagement (24% vs. between 13% and 18%) and likely to watch live coverage of the wedding (44% vs. between 26% and 28%).

Further Opinions

Despite not following the news closely, Americans do have some opinions on details of the British royal family’s business. When asked about Kate Middleton’s class status, as she will be the first so-called commoner to marry a direct heir to the British throne, almost half of Americans say this is a good thing for Britain’s royal family (48%), very few people say it’s a bad thing (1%) and two in five describe it as neither good nor bad (39%). Interestingly, women are more likely than men to say this is a good thing for the British royal family (53% vs. 43%). Matures (55%) are also more likely than younger groups-Baby Boomers, aged 47-65, (49%), Gen X, aged 35-46 (43%) and Echo Boomers, aged 18-34 (48%)-to say this is a good thing.

Over two in five Americans say that they would like to see Prince Charles, currently next in line for the British throne, to step aside and allow his son, Prince William, to be the next king of England (44%) with a quarter of Americans saying they would very much like to see this (25%). Once again, women display stronger feelings on this than do men, as half of women say they would like to see this happen (52%), compared to fewer men who say the same (35%). Men, on the other hand, are more likely to say that they are not at all sure (52% versus 38% of women). It should come as little surprise that Matures again display the strongest opinions on the succession of the British throne-half say that they would like to see Prince Charles step aside (52%) compared to between 38% and 45% of all other generational groups who say the same.

So What?

Although many don’t seem anxious to admit it, Americans appear to be fairly interested in the proceedings of the British royal family, and, American opinions reflect a preference for movement toward what may be a more accessible and relatable monarchy. While Americans’ opinions on this subject are interesting, one wonders how Britons feel. One would assume more of them are following this news closely and have opinions on the future of their monarchy.

 

TABLE 1

FOLLOWING THE ENGAGEMENT

Recently Prince William, heir to the British throne, become engaged to marry his girlfriend Kate Middleton. How closely, if at all, have you been following the news surrounding the engagement and upcoming wedding?

Base: All U.S. adults

 

Total

Gender

Generation

Male

Female

Echo Boomers (18-34)

Gen X (35-46)

Baby Boomers (47-65)

Matures (66+)

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Closely (NET)

18

11

24

18

13

17

24

     Very closely

2

1

2

1

2

2

3

     Somewhat closely

16

10

22

17

11

15

21

Not closely (NET)

82

89

76

82

87

83

76

     Not very closely

41

36

45

33

36

46

49

     Not at all

42

53

32

49

51

37

27

 

 

 

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

TABLE 2

WATCH THE WEDDING LIVE

How likely are you to watch live coverage of the royal wedding when it takes place in April?

Base: All U.S. adults

 

Total

Gender

Generation

Male

Female

Echo Boomers (18-34)

Gen X (35-46)

Baby Boomers (47-65)

Matures (66+)

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Likely (NET)

30

18

41

27

26

28

44

     Very likely

10

5

14

6

10

9

15

     Somewhat likely

20

13

27

20

16

19

29

Not likely (NET)

66

79

54

69

70

69

52

     Not very likely

23

23

24

21

20

25

27

     Not at all likely

43

57

30

49

50

43

24

Not at all sure

4

3

5

4

4

3

4

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

TABLE 3

KATE MIDDLETON’S CLASS STATUS

Kate Middleton, Prince William’s fiancée, is from a middle-class family, rather than a family with aristocratic roots. Kate will be the first so-called commoner to marry a direct heir to the British throne. Do you think this is a good or bad thing for Britain’s royal family?

Base: All U.S. adults

 

Total

Gender

Generation

Male

Female

Echo Boomers (18-34)

Gen X (35-46)

Baby Boomers (47-65)

Matures (66+)

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Good thing

48

43

53

48

43

49

55

Neither a good nor bad thing

39

40

39

37

42

40

38

Bad thing

1

1

*

1

*

1

1

Not at all sure

12

16

8

14

14

10

6

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

TABLE 4

NEXT KING OF ENGLAND

Prince Charles, Prince William’s father, is currently next in line for the British throne. Some people believe he may defer this right to his son, Prince William. How much would you like to see Prince Charles step aside and allow Prince William to be the next king of England?

Base: All U.S. adults

 

Total

Gender

Generation

Male

Female

Echo Boomers (18-34)

Gen X (35-46)

Baby Boomers (47-65)

Matures (66+)

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Would like (NET)

44

35

52

38

42

45

52

     Very much

25

17

33

15

26

29

32

     Somewhat

18

18

19

22

17

15

20

Would not like (NET)

12

14

10

10

9

13

16

     Not very much

5

7

4

5

5

5

7

     Not at all

6

7

6

4

4

8

9

Not at all sure

45

52

38

52

48

42

32

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between March 7 to 14, 2011 among 2,379 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words margin of error as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

 

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

 

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

J39773

Q930, 935, 940, 945

 

The Harris Poll® #49, April 19, 2011

By Samantha Braverman, Senior Project Researcher, Harris Interactive