It has been an unquestionably challenging few months for the royal family, with rumours of rifts, talk of snubs and open warfare with the media. It all suggests another annus horribilis is on the cards. Prince Andrew’s BBC interview at the weekend has merely added fuel to the fire. You would be forgiven for thinking that Britain is on the verge of becoming a republic.
But recent research shows that it is not all doom and gloom for the Monarchy.
As the Royal Family’s PR team goes into damage control, the clever people at UnHerd and FocalData have published a poll of the UK population which has found that around 73% of Brits (adjusting for Don’t Knows) support the continued reign of our royal family. This finding is consistent with previous research conducted by YouGov during a happier time for the royal family — just before Harry and Meghan’s wedding.
Using a statistical method called Multilevel Regression and Poststratification, UnHerd and FocalData were able to estimate the level of support for the monarchy in each of Britain’s 632 Westminster Constituencies. Analysing support for the Monarchy by constituency — it appears that it is wide, with all but three British seats containing less pro-monarchy sentiment than anti: Liverpool Riverside, Manchester Central and Glasgow Central.
There’s interesting regional variation. In England, support for the Sovereign is 11 points higher than in Scotland, and five points higher than in Wales. Less than half of Scotland registers active support for the Monarchy – again probably a reflection of wider nationalist and separatist sentiment, as well as its currently ambivalent place within the Union (and had we polled Northern Ireland, this would have no doubt showed a similar pattern).
Exhibit 1: Support for Monarchy by Region / Seat allocation
Despite widespread national support, there are clear markers which indicate that monarchism is basically a super-charged Conservative vote. Every single Tory seat is pro-crown with Labour and SNP seats exclusively making up more republican areas of Britain.
Exhibit 2: Support for Monarchy vs Conservative Support
From the seat estimates, it also emerges that monarchism sits at an interesting intersection between Conservativism and “Leavy-ness”. There’s a distinctly southern feel to monarchism, too, with not a single Northern seat outside rural Yorkshire in the Top 20 in England and Wales.
Exhibit 3: Top 20 seats for Monarchism (England and Wales)
The picture in England and Wales for republicanism is the inverse. Younger, more urban, more graduate and BAME-heavy, Remain and Labour voting parliamentary seats make up most of the Top 20 republican seats.
Exhibit 4: Top 20 seats for republicanism (England and Wales)
Indeed, all of the fastest growing demographic groupings (graduates, BAME voters etc) are the ones who are least supportive of the monarchy. So while the polling indicates that monarchism is in a strong position today, it is by no means impregnable.
Exhibit 5: No 2 AV Support vs Support for Monarchy
Nonetheless, this 73% coalition of support for the monarchy is something that Boris Johnson would surely dream of – and, in fact, it is a coalition which we’ve seen in a different guise before. The 2011 Referendum on the Alternative vote divided along very similar lines, with the same types of seats and voter types voting to reject electoral reform. The weight of support does suggest that, even at this trying hour, Britain is some way away from the republic that many within Britain’s metropolitan elites would like.
But before that coalition pops champagne corks, a note of caution should be sounded. The group who could not make up their mind on this question – 1 in 4 voters — do seem to be located in greater numbers where there is less pro-monarchy sentiment. The inference is that as these voters make up their minds about the monarchy (or where forced to do so), they may not break in its favour. The weather forecast you would say for the Firm is mixed.
Exhibit 6: Undecideds vs supporters of the Monarchy