The British public has never felt the same affection for Prince Charles as it does for his mother—or his sons.
A new poll, however, will still make for grim reading inside palace walls. It shows that an astonishing 47 percent of the public now back the crown skipping a generation, and going directly to Prince William when Queen Elizabeth dies. Just 27 percent actively want the crown to go to Charles, with the remainder either saying they don’t know, are complete abolitionists, or prefer Harry (among 18- to 24-year-olds, Harry is the most popular choice, beating William 23 percent to 22 percent).
The long-held fantasy of cutting Charles out of the line of succession—said to be a dream of Princess Diana after their divorce—has virtually zero probability of actually happening. Even Graham Smith, CEO of anti-monarchy group Republic, told the Mirror: “No matter what the polls say Charles will be king.”
Charles is already running large parts of the monarchy’s day-to-day business on his mother’s behalf in preparation for the succession, which has been painstakingly planned for decades. To remove him from the position of heir apparent would require him either to stand aside, or require an unprecedented intervention.
However the new poll, commissioned by Britain’s left-wing tabloid the Mirror, has revealed the challenges to the heir’s popularity, despite a carefully waged PR battle to improve his public image over the past two decades.
It is unclear whether Charles’ critics have been emboldened by Prince Harry’s scathing criticism of his father during his interview with Oprah Winfrey; however, the poll suggests that more than half— 51 percent— believe Harry and Meghan have damaged the reputation of the monarchy.
Their intervention was not popular in Britain, which is likely to be surprising to U.S. audiences; 58 percent of Brits believe they should be stripped of their royal titles while only 23 percent support them retaining them.
Deltapoll interviewed 1,590 adults between March 31 and April 1 for the survey.
It found that 41 percent believe the queen should remain in her position until she dies regardless of her health, while 27 percent believe she should abdicate if her health deteriorates. Some 21 percent believe she should abdicate sooner regardless of her health status.