Buckingham Palace with crowds on the Mall

Newspapers regularly report the affection that the majority of the British public have for the Queen. What do past polls say?

The NOP Political Bulletin of November 1969 contained a special supplement entitled The Monarchy. It revealed that 84% of the population believed that “Britain needs the Queen”. The proportion was lower in the under-35 age group but still reached 75% even here. The vast majority of people believed the Royal Family to be good ambassadors for Britain abroad – “Prince Philip’s gaffes notwithstanding”, the report notes.

On the debit side, the majority acknowledged that the Queen’s advisors and courtiers were “out of touch with ordinary people” and “drawn from too narrow a social class”. The view that the Royal Family was “over-privileged”, however, was supported only by a minority, albeit a substantial one (35%).

Fast-forward eighteen years to 1987 and we find a MORI poll showing that “5% think Britain would be better off if the monarchy were abolished, whilst 73% think it would be worse off”. At this time, cracks in the marriage between the Prince and Princess of Wales were regularly reported, but 48% said they “hardly ever believe what they read in the papers about the Royal Family”.

By May 1993 – nearly a year after the 40th anniversary of the Queen’s accession – a survey by ICM found that “half (50%) of Britons want the cost of the royal palaces and royal services ‘cut back to a smaller figure’ and a further 14% believe the royal family ‘should not receive any money at all’.

Throughout the latter part of the 20th century, therefore, opposition to the monarchy seemed very much a minority. The 1993 study does go on to report, however, that while the overwhelming majority believe the Queen has done a good job since 1953, she should cheer up. Two-thirds of the population apparently felt that she ”looked too glum”!


This article draws from the following sources in the Archive of Market and Social Research (AMSR):

NOP Political Bulletin Special Supplement II: The Monarchy 1969 October

British Public Opinion, April 1987

British Public Opinion, June 1993

Contributed by Nick Tanner
Date posted: 2nd June 2022


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