What Americans think of the British royal family before King Charles III's coronation

Linley SandersData Journalist
May 05, 2023, 1:57 PM GMT+0

On Saturday, King Charles III will be officially crowned as Britain’s monarch — formally succeeding his mother, Queen Elizabeth II.

A new YouGov poll conducted in the weeks prior to the king's coronation finds that 62% of Americans say they do not care about the event "very much" (29%) or "at all" (33%). That apathy does not indicate a personal dislike of King Charles III, though. Despite their lack of interest, Americans are much more likely to strongly or somewhat approve (50%) than to strongly or somewhat disapprove (21%) of King Charles succeeding Queen Elizabeth II as monarch.

Most Americans (58%) say they are not very likely or not likely at all to spend their Saturday watching the king's coronation. Younger Americans are much more likely than older Americans to say they are likely to tune into the event. Adults under 45 are more likely than older Americans to say they are very or somewhat likely to watch (45% vs. 24%).

President Joe Biden is not planning to attend King Charles III coronation — which continues a longstanding practice of U.S. presidents not attending such functions. Being told that Biden's absence from the event maintains a tradition of U.S. presidents not attending — as only half of the respondents were — makes Americans more likely to say he should uphold this precedent by not attending.

When told that Biden is not planning to attend the coronation and asked whether he should attend — without the additional context of presidential norms — one-third (32%) of Americans say he should attend while 41% say he shouldn't. In this case, Democrats (37%) and Republicans (39%) are similarly likely to say that Biden should go.

Being told that Biden's absence would "maintain a tradition of U.S. presidents not attending" increases the share of Americans who say he should not go. One-quarter (24%) say he should attend and defy the tradition, while 55% say he should not. When given the additional context, Democrats (64%) are significantly more likely than Republicans (52%) to say he should not go.

First Lady Jill Biden is planning to lead the U.S. delegation to the coronation. Americans are slightly more likely to say the first lady should attend the coronation (38%) than not attend (33%). People who were shown the question about President Biden not attending without the context of it being a precedent are more likely than people who were informed of the precedent to support Jill Biden's attendance (41% vs. 35%).

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex — the younger son of King Charles III — will attend his father's coronation without his wife, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex. Harry and Meghan stepped back from their roles as senior members of the British royal family in 2020 and now split their time between the U.S. and the United Kingdom. Since shifting roles, the couple has released a Netflix documentary that criticized the royal family for not better protecting Meghan from racist attacks on her biracial heritage.

American adults are about twice as likely as British adults (33% to 15%) to say that both Harry and Meghan should attend the coronation. British adults are nearly twice as likely as Americans to say neither should attend (15% of Americans say this, compared to 27% of Britons). Americans are slightly less likely than Brits to say they don't mind either way who attends (39% vs 46%).

Harry and Meghan are the two most politically polarizing major figures in the royal family for Americans. YouGov asked Americans to say whether they have a favorable or unfavorable view of each of nine living members of the royal family. From the results, it is possible to determine each person's net favorability score — that is, how much more likely Americans are to say they view the person very favorably or somewhat favorably than very unfavorably or somewhat unfavorably. Harry and Meghan both are viewed favorably by more Americans than view them unfavorably, but each one is more likely to be negatively than positively by Republicans.

Americans have a more favorable than unfavorable view of King Charles III (+6), and hold even more positive views of the king's heir, Prince William, Prince of Wales (+33), and William's wife, Catherine, Princess of Wales (+34). The most favorably viewed members of the royal family whom we asked about have died: Diana, Princess of Wales (+69 net score; died in 1997) and Queen Elizabeth II (+56; died last year).

– Taylor Orth and Carl Bialik contributed to this article

Related: Three in five Americans say it would be bad for the U.S. to have a monarch

See the results for this YouGov poll

Methodology: The poll was conducted among 1,000 U.S. adult citizens on April 24 - 27, 2023. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel using sample matching. A random sample (stratified by gender, age, race, education, geographic region, and voter registration) was selected from the 2019 American Community Survey. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, education, 2020 election turnout and presidential vote, baseline party identification, and current voter registration status. Demographic weighting targets come from the 2019 American Community Survey. Baseline party identification is the respondent’s most recent answer given prior to March 15, 2022, and is weighted to the estimated distribution at that time (33% Democratic, 28% Republican). The margin of error for the overall sample is approximately 3%.

Image: Getty Images (Rob Jefferies)

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