UK Royal Family & Its Odds of Inspiring Trust to Young Generations
Does British royalty belong to the past, or does it still hold value today? Why does the UK still have a monarchy, and can the young generations trust it?
Considering the current support for the UK monarchy, we aim to venture a prediction:
What are the odds of young British people maintaining trust and admiration for the UK monarchy?
The British Crown’s role has long been a sensitive subject for many Brits, and we have no intention of slandering or treating it unkindly. This article is merely an assessment of various factors that may influence the trust of a younger public in the British monarchy.
The current standing of the British monarchy
According to recent statistics, the percentage of young Brits supporting the monarchy is decreasing when compared to the support for the monarchy UK 2020 polls.
While a staggering 53% of 25 to 49-year-olds remain loyal to the Crown, only 31% of adults aged between 18 and 24 support it, with a majority of 41% preferring an elected head of state and 28% remaining undecided.
Is the UK the only country with a monarchy?
No. Many other countries have retained their Royal Family as constitutional monarchies. Other examples are the Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, Norway, Thailand, etc.
Today, a great part of Britain’s national sense of pride and stability mirrored in the richness of royal assets is called into question.
Support statistics for UK’s monarchy in 2021
Old attitudes of the Royal Family, so revered in the past, now alienate quite a few royal subjects and are in stark contradiction to the values of a younger generation.
As proof, the overwhelming majority who support the monarchy (81%) are UK citizens aged over 65.
Calculating the overall support for the monarchy UK 2021
According to these statistics, the general support for the monarchy declared by British citizens amounts to 61%, contrasting with 24% of people voting for an elected head of state. Approximately 15% of the population is still unconvinced by either option.
To factor in the major potential causes for this situation and what they mean for the monarchy in the future, let’s briefly draw out its current role in the United Kingdom’s political and social life.
We are neither social nor political specialists. We use our diverse author backgrounds to estimate the probability of specific events, similarly to the methods we employ in our gambling analyses.
Main constitutional rights
- The UK monarch can appoint or dismiss ministers;
- She is entitled to regulate civil service in various ways;
- The Queen may pardon criminal offenders or reduce sentences where she deems fit;
- She can also declare war or make peace;
- The UK monarch can direct military actions;
- She may negotiate and ratify treaties, alliances, and international agreements;
- The Queen handles many diplomatic issues for the country, etc.
The Queen of Great Britain cannot be pursued criminally, personally, although the Crown as an institution can be held accountable in civil lawsuits. However, such unique treatments of royal individuals are of main concern for anti-monarchists.
- The monarch must always support the decisions of Parliament;
- She can never interfere unconstitutionally with domestic political choices;
- The Queen must respect the division of powers within the state;
- She is not to express personal biases publicly, etc.
In a nutshell
The monarch must famously live by three constitutional rights that can arguably imply her obligations: she has the right to be consulted, encourage, and the right to warn.
The Queen holds weekly private meetings with the PM
Effectively, this means that the monarch can only exercise his or her power on the Prime Ministers’ advice, which raises concerns about her true role and justification for being, as marked in her 2019 interaction with the controversial PM, Boris Johnson.
When did the British monarchy fall from grace with the public?
Most studies and articles imply that there was no specific moment but rather a series of events that damaged the image of the British Royal Family in the eyes of young UK citizens.
It’s true that British Royalty hasn’t always made decisions that agreed with all their subjects. And, as with any institution, there were always those that opposed it.
However, it can be argued that contrary sentiments either multiplied or strengthened once the UK monarchy members became much more exposed as individuals rather than treated as a distant and godly institution.
Do you know the first royal paparazzo?
In the 1950s-1960s, Ray Bellisario was the first news photographer to take unrequested photos of Royal Family members. He followed them for over 20 years, gathering his best work into a volume called “To Tread on Royal Toes”.
A few unfortunate events
The strict rules of conduct that apply to the Royal Family and Household were mainly set in place to avoid any scandal or situation that could leave the family open to criticism from its subjects.
To fall short of those standards could jeopardise the image of the monarchy and, subsequently, its authority.
While this strategy proved useful at times, stubbornly sticking to the rules often led to worse results.
King Edward VIII’s abdication over sex scandal
Edward VIII, the former Prince of Wales, and heir to the throne had a steamy affair with Wallis Warfield Simpson, an American divorcée.
The affair culminated in his decision to marry her, which was greatly opposed by the Royal Household and the British public at the time.
Unwilling to conform to the strict rule of marrying a woman of noble heritage and with an impeccable past, newly appointed King Edward decided to abdicate. Thus, he married the woman who did not conform to Royal standards but whom he declared that he loved.
Social and political consequences:
- His brother became King George VI, though neither he nor his family (including his daughter, Elizabeth, the future Queen) was prepared for the task;
- The scandal established precedence for a string of scandals around the conditions imposed to marrying into the Royal family and divided the public.
The Princess Margaret controversies
Princess Margaret often made glamorous appearances in newspapers and in diverse social circles where Royals were not supposed to appear.
She often spoke publicly on social issues where the Crown should not have given an opinion that could contradict the political measures taken by the government.
Such behaviours often gained her popularity with the Royal subjects but put the Crown at odds with many of them for being passive and uninvolved with British people’s needs and wants.
The turning stone in her lifestory
But perhaps the highlight of her controversies was her affair with Captain Townsend while he still was a married man. He subsequently divorced his wife in hopes of marrying Princess Margaret, and the couple received huge support from the public.
However, the Crown yet again opposed the marriage, as the Captain was deemed unfit for the Royal family.
Eventually, Princess Margaret married Antony Armstrong Jones, a British photographer and filmmaker. However, their marital disputes and infidelities often made the front page of tabloids, and the relationship ended in divorce.
Damaging the Royal Family’s popularity
The public nature of Princess Margaret’s controversies split the British people into those who condemned the Royal Family and those who condemned Princess Margaret’s lack of obedience to norms. It also involved the public much more in the personal lives of monarchy members.
The Queen versus Margaret Thatcher
While Margaret Thatcher was in the 11th year of her premiership, she was immovable in her decision not to apply sanctions against the apartheid regime in South Africa.
The problem: Britain was the only country opposing the sanctions, and the Queen was growing upset about the tensions in the Commonwealth.
This issue, which was already on everyone’s mind, blew up on the 20th of July 1986, with a Sunday Times article claiming that the Queen criticises Margaret Thatcher’s decision.
Why was this a problem?
The Queen’s alleged act was deemed unconstitutional, which upset many monarchists. However, the Queen quickly cleared out the matter, denying she had ever made any such claims.
Her denial disappointed many Brits who were also concerned with the increasing tensions in the Commonwealth.
It is true, though, that Thatcher signed for applying sanctions in South Africa soon after.
We do not claim that there was ever any dispute between the Queen and her premier, Margaret Thatcher. These were mere allegations in the press, and historians remain divided on the subject.
Princess Diana’s confessions and death
The relationship struggles between Princess Diana and Prince Charles was perhaps the largest blow to the monarchy yet.
Several factors angered the public about their conflicts:
- The candid, soft-spoken nature of Princess Diana, along with her deep involvement with charity work, artistic inclinations and fashion sense, turned her into an icon of nobility and kindness with the British public;
- Rumours of Prince Charles’ extramarital affair with Camilla Parker Bowles, who was also a married woman, angered Diana’s supporters;
- Princess Diana made a series of televised interviews claiming the lack of support on the part of the Royal Family members and opened up over her struggles with bulimia and depression, which upset her fans but also attracted the contempt of Crown supporters, etc.
Princess Diana’s death, which also revealed her own extramarital affair, gave rise to a series of conspiracy stories.
Many of her supporters claimed that she was pushed to the limits by her unhappiness, while others even claimed that her death was set up by the Royal Family.
Princess Diana’s story still casts a shadow over the monarchy
The Princess’ supporters today still condemn the British Royal Family for her fate. The fact that Prince Charles has eventually married Camilla Parker Bowles and that she is to take Diana’s place as future Queen is a subject that breeds resentment to this day.
Royal Family members, Her Majesty included, have since taken steps to rehabilitate their image and to show their sorrow for the loss of Princess Diana.
However, several supporters of the late Princess remain sceptical.
We do not presume that any allegations brought against the Royal Family are true. We are simply describing the pervasive attitudes of the British public towards this subject.
Divisions concerning Harry Windsor and Meghan Markle
The decision of the Royal couple to renounce their status as senior members of the Royal Family made the headlines of tabloids and TV Shows all over the world.
Both complained about the British press invasion of privacy, but they did offer a couple of controversial interviews, claiming that the Duchess suffered multiple injustices in the UK and at the Palace, such as:
- Lack of personal freedom;
- Unconscious racial bias;
- False allegations made about her, etc.
However, in the case of this Royal couple, the strict rules were loosened: Megan Markle, the American actress, does not come from nobility, and she also went through a divorce.
Further public divide
The allegations made by the Royal couple accented the rift between the monarchy supporters and anti-monarchists, as it reminded the public of Princess Diana’s tragedy.
Financial complaints of Royal Family members
The Crown has a controversial relationship to the money it is granted yearly, since 1971, when the Queen requested Parliament to increase her pay.
This rose the repeated question in the lines of British citizens:
How much does the monarchy cost the UK?
According to the press, the Civil List Grant at the time was approximately £475,000 per year, which no longer sufficed for the Royal expenses.
Over the years, there were many moments where the Crown finances were called into question, supported and inflamed by republican protests on the matter.
Royal Yacht Britannia is decommissioned
Tony Blair famously inflamed the monarchists and gained the sympathy of Labour Party supporters when he retired the Royal Yacht.
This remains unclear only because in 2012, the direct monarchy funding was established as the Sovereign Grant, a sum given by the British government for official Royal expenditures like:
- State visits;
- Public engagements;
- Upkeep of multiple Royal residences;
- Staffing, etc.
The remaining Crown funds come from a parliamentary annuity, private investments, and the Duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall revenues.
Today’s major complaints about the monarchy
- The many press scandals painted the picture of obsolete values displayed by the Royal Family members, no longer in keeping with a modern, advanced British society;
- The younger public’s main concerns centres on Royal duties, which, many as they are, cannot affect enough desired change as the monarchy has not displayed any decisional power;
- Many Royal subjects now question whether the Crown as an institution is still worthy of taxpayers’ money.
The issue of tax
Both the Queen and Prince of Wales do not pay taxes, which adds further fuel to an already arduous debate between the monarchists, anti-monarchists, and sceptics.
In response, on the 5th of February 1993, the Memorandum of Understanding on Royal Taxation was issued, explaining the Queen and the Prince’s financial contributions to the country.
The document was amended in 1996, 2009, and 2013 and stated that the two Royal Family members voluntarily submit payments to the HM Revenue and Customs to make up for the tax exemption.
However, the details of this arrangement are private, which further inflames anti-monarchist sentiments.
The complaints described above do not represent our own opinions or biases. They are gathered and summarised from academic analyses, official polls, and British press headlines.
Why does the UK still have a monarchy? Moments when the Crown shined
The monarchy succeeded in inspiring its subjects across generations, including their most loyal supporters and the younger population:
The diplomatic visit to Germany in 1965
This was the Sovereign’s first diplomatic visit to the Federal Republic of Germany since the war.
On this occasion, the Sovereign and Prince Philip participated in the British troops’ parade in Berlin at the Olympic stadium.
Thus, they commemorated 20 years since the end of World War II but also marked a reconciliation between Germany and Britain.
They also instilled a sense of relief in a population still scarred by the aftermath of war and acknowledged the losses and efforts of British military.
The monarchy’s response to the Aberfan tragedy
The mud avalanche in the mining town of Aberfan, Wales, on the 21st of October 1966 killed over 116 children and 28 adults.
Prince Philip responded quickly and visited the town shortly after the disaster, encouraging the torn families and parents and offering condolences.
The Queen herself had a delayed response, yet she showed a moving and public sensitivity, talking personally to town representatives who had also lost their loved ones.
The Queen often returned to Aberfan since, checking in on her afflicted subjects.
Prince Charles’ investiture speech
When invested as the Prince of Wales, Prince Charles did much more than simply show up and deliver the customary speech.
Instead, he spent nine weeks prior to the event in Wales, learning its customs and language and braving the nationalist protests held against him.
Prince Charles’ speech, delivered first in Welsh, then in English, showed extraordinary support for the country and marked the beginning of improved Anglo-Welsh relations.Princess Margaret’s social involvement
Although criticised for her decadent lifestyle and lack of implication with Royal duties, Princess Margaret was a people’s favourite in many ways.
Her charity work included presiding over and supporting:
- National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC);
- Royal Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children;
- Invalid Children’s Aid Nationwide;
- St John Ambulance Brigade;
- Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps, etc.
She was much less public in her charity work than other British Royal Family members but became involved with many ballet organisations as well as AIDS and Cancer foundations, such as:
- London Lighthouse;
- Tenovus Cancer Care;
- Royal College of Nursing.
Her open and entertaining manner made her a favourite with the British people many a time, despite Palace disapproval.
Princess Diana’s work of inspiration
Princess Diana made many visits to homeless shelters, orphanages, hospitals, and AIDS charities.
She raised not only significant amounts of money for them but also awareness about the severity of their living conditions and illnesses, calling for compassion and open-mindedness from the public.
A famous photograph of Diana holding hands with an HIV/AIDS-afflicted patient helped to shatter the stigma and prejudice surrounding the disease at that time.
Aside from her philanthropic work, she also inspired young people everywhere by:
- Being open about mental illness;
- Developing a strong female voice on social issues;
- Becoming a fashion icon and an image of grace and humility;
- Displaying the image of a devoted mother who often took her sons out into the world to show them how other people lived.
Royal weddings have famously attracted thousands of viewers in the UK and, with the involvement of television in Royal ceremonies, also across the world.
The weddings that have been televised so far, each attracting millions and billions of fans, have been:
- Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon: approx. 300 million viewers;
- Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer: approx. 1 billion viewers;
- Prince Willian and Catherine Middleton: approx. 1 billion viewers;
- Prince Harry and Meghan Markle: approx. 1.9 billion viewers.
Why are Royal weddings inspirational?
They allow the British public to take part in centuries-old Royal customs. Their grandiosity, merriment, and ceremony are perhaps the strongest trigger for a people who have a long-standing tradition of monarchy.
Does political affiliation influence support towards the Crown?
Ultimately, no. Although it may seem like the sides are clearly divided, there have been times when exceptions were made.
The two parties
While the Tories have had a long-standing tradition to support the monarchy, and the Labour Party has been depicted many times as the people’s party, there have been notable exceptions to these rules.
Many Labour Prime Ministers like Clement Richard Attlee and Harold Wilson supported the monarchy, even in the face of ministers who flirted with republican views.
Anti-monarchists versus monarchists
|Main Anti-Monarchist Views||Main Monarchist Views|
|Crown’s lack of accountability||Monarchy grants a sense of unity to the nation|
|The hereditary principle is undemocratic||The Sovereign is a stable albeit symbolic head of state, which remains for much longer instated than governments|
|Monarchy perpetuates elitist attitudes||Monarchies cost less than republics|
|Royal expenses are a burden to the UK nation||The Royal Family helps the UK economy through tourism and commerce (merchandise)|
|Enables war declarations, treaties, etc. without the Parliament’s vote||The Crown highlights events and addresses issues through their social appearances, patronages, etc., an aspect that a president may not have time for.|
A dangerous debate
The debate between monarchists and anti-monarchists has been around for a long time, occurring even in official government meetings. However, it can also take dangerous undertones amidst regular British citizens, with anti-monarchists often being accused of treason.
Anti-monarchists, royalists, and republicans
Republicans want a complete reformation of the style in which the UK is ruled, while anti-monarchists may have one of two opinions:
- Against the Crown as an institution;
- Personal grievances against the royal family.
The true “civil war” lies between royalists and republicans, where sentiments become very heated. Such disputes usually end up in the newspapers, creating social and political instability.
However, according to recent polls, Britain remains a majoritarian royalist. A 2021 poll conducted by Opinium for The Observer newspaper found 55% of 2 001 British people in favour of the monarchy.
The percentage did not fluctuate much, even with differing pollsters and sample sizes.
Monarchy approval ratings UK:
Understanding the UK monarchy: brief historical outline
The relevant historical context goes a long way in understanding why many British subjects remain attached to the Royal Family.
Here’s the brief version of an almost 1200-year history of UK monarchs:
Selective UK monarchy timeline
- 1327 Edward III claims the French Crown: Hundred Years’ War between England and France
- 1455-1487 Wars of the Roses (Civil Wars for the throne) lead to the Tudor Dynasty
- 1534 Henry VIII establishes Anglicanism, with the monarch as Head of Church
- 1535 & 1542 Wales is annexed to England
- 1553 Mary I tries to restore Catholicism, prosecuting and murdering Protestants
- 1558 Elizabeth I returns England to the Anglican Church
- 1685-1688 James I is the last ever Roman Catholic King
- 1707 England and Scotland are unified: Kingdom of Great Britain
- 1876 Queen Victoria is declared Empress of India
- 1901 Edward VII: the first of the House of Saxe-Coburg & Gotha (his father’s surname)
- 1917 George V changes Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to Windsor (WWI anti-German sentiments)
- 1926 Balfour Declaration establishes the Commonwealth of Nations
- 1931 Statute of Westminster gives complete independence to several former British colonies
- 1936 Edward VIII abdicates over affair with divorcee
- 1952 Queen Elizabeth II ascends to the throne at only 25 years of age
- 1986-1997 The public relationship breakdown between Prince Charles and Lady Diana
- 2011 Prince William is made Duke of Cambridge & marries Catherine Middleton
- 2018 Prince Harry breaks the norm: marriage with Meghan Markle
- 2020 Harry & Meghan step down permanently as Senior Members of the Royal Family
Our selection criteria for the timeline
The events selected in the previous timeline show why the British people have always had a complicated relationship with the monarchy. This relationship has inspired powerful reactions from the public, either as support or rebellion.
When did the British monarchy lose power?
The loss of executive power by the British monarchy happened gradually because of the instability and lack of loyalty previously shown to the Sovereign by political allies.
The most notable example is the reign of James I, causing serious Parliament dissatisfaction. After his tumultuous reign, no monarch was ever given the right to exercise the entirety of their executive power.
Further political involvement:
- William III helped with the 1701 Act of Settlement;
- George I supported the 1725 Treaty of Hanover;
- George II promoted a few ministers, etc.
Involvement on the part of the monarchy gradually decreased.
Eventually, the Prime Minister’s office took over almost all responsibilities previously attributed to the King.
The role of the monarchy in the UK
Some experts claim that today, the Monarch’s power is mainly social, through the past she represents.
What could be done to increase the UK monarchy approval rating?
The Crown has previously taken steps to adjust its stance to modern times:
- Invited commoners to Buckingham Palace;
- The Queen televised her coronation and Christmas speeches;
- Loosened the restriction on Royal couples getting divorced;
- Recently renounced the strict criteria necessary to marrying into the Royal family, etc.
However, sociologists point out that the official declarations and changes made by the monarchy in the wake of such scandals often came late.
These were also sparse and happened after a threat to the image of the monarchy, which suggests that they were made to save face rather than because of a truly updated mentality.
So, what more can the monarchy do?
A few public complaints about the monarchy hint at further demands:
- Reduce expenses;
- Take a more active role in society;
- Show more support towards social causes;
- Adapt its values to the current society, etc.
Social expert’s opinion
According to studies that argue for the modernisation of the monarchy, the Crown should take serious steps to:
- Establish clearer roles within the constitution rather than the executive role, which does not apply to it anymore;
- Become more of a relevant symbol of current British society;
- Establish new norms of conduct for its members that makes them more approachable and less vulnerable to scandal, etc.
Will the young generations abolish monarchy UK? The statistics show that events have not yet progressed so far.
Let’s have a look at the most influential factors:
|In support of the monarchy continuing to inspire the young generations||Against the monarchy continuing to inspire the young generations|
|The Crown remains a symbol of national pride||A small percentage of youth support the monarchy|
|Charity work done by the Royal Family maintains subjects’ loyalty||Social critiques of the Crown’s values|
|The monarchy remains a useful diplomatic instrument||Royal Family scandals|
|Revenues attracted from tourism and commerce are fuelled by the symbol of UK monarchy||How much does the monarchy cost taxpayers while it is exempt from paying taxes?|
According to recent polls and social studies, it seems that, without change, it is unlikely that the monarchy will continue to inspire many further generations.
As the Crown’s image retains its glory in the hearts of older British citizens, it also becomes less influential among the younger generations.
Whether this loss of influence will lead to drastic political changes, such as Britain losing its status as a constitutional monarchy and becoming a republic instead, remains to be seen.
But how would the UK abolish the monarchy when it still instigates arduous debates as well as sympathies?
It has been proven: where problems become apparent, studies, surveys, and history have shown that surprising solutions may be found.
Finally, whether the evergreen love affair between the people and the glamorous imperial past of the United Kingdom will inspire young generations depends on the likelihood that the Royal Family adopts new customs and values.
This is very likely to happen, as it already has, though sparsely. The hope is that the changes made will suffice and come timely.
We used the probability skills exercised in our gambling expertise to evaluate the odds of the British monarchy retaining or increasing its influence on young generations.
Our team gathered the necessary data from reliable resources:
- Academic articles on economic and social perspectives on British monarchy;
- Political and economic media coverages;
- Historical resources on Great Britain;
- Official statements made by Royal Family members;
- Official documentaries realised by specialists in the field.
We recognise that some official sources may be biased due to their affiliation with the Royal Family. However difficult these are to spot, we made sure to create an objective and thoroughly informed depiction of past events and the current state of affairs.
- Royal UK
- Young Britons are turning their backs on the monarchy – YouGov
- Confidence in future of British monarchy at an all-time high in U.K.: poll – National Post
- If we want to change Britain, the monarchy must go, says Rebecca McQuillan – The Herald
- Why does the UK love the monarchy? – BBC
- Thank you Ma’am: Royals earn Britain nearly £2billion a year – Express
- Gender pay gap row: Buckingham Palace’s female staff paid 12% LESS than men – Express
- Queen Elizabeth hires first ever black assistant – Independent
- Royalty Inc: Britain’s Best-Known Brand
- ‘Queen’s Day – TV’s Day’: the British monarchy and the media industries – Taylor & Francis Online
- Monarchy popular as ever ahead of Queen’s 90th Birthday celebrations – Ipsos
- The British Royal Wedding, Empire and Colonialism – Counter Punch
- Royal Centre
- Racism, Crisis, Brexit – Taylor & Francis Online
- Modernising the Monarchy
- Queen Elizabeth II: 14 Key Moments in Her Reign – History
- Do you think Britain should continue to have a monarchy in the future, or should it be replaced with an elected head of state? – Statista
- Diana, Princess of Wales – Learning to Give