The most popular British royals in 2020
Harry and Meghan’s popularity sinks, but millennials back the couple
The past six months have been a PR disaster for the British Royal Family.
The focus on Prince Andrew’s links to disgraced sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and the “car crash” interview that followed did damage to the brand late last year, with the issue still unresolved.
Last week, the New York state attorney accused Prince Andrew of “zero cooperation” with the FBI and US lawyers over his friendship with the disgraced financier.
However, those close to the Duke have said he is “angry and bewildered” by the claims. Andrew is “more than happy to talk to the FBI but he hasn't been approached by them yet”, a source told The Telegraph.
If 2019 was a “royally disastrous year” for the family, as author and biographer A.N. Wilson claimed in the Daily Mail, then 2020 has got off to another bad start.
The surprise decision of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to step down from royal duties and move to North America posed an existential threat to the family and its traditions.
Despite all the controversy, public polls still suggest that there is strong support for the royals.
Here are the UK’s favourite figures in the family, according to data from YouGov.
The Queen (73% positive opinion - up from 72% in November 2019)
Her Majesty sits at the head of both the Royal Family and the YouGov rankings. Of more than 6,000 interviews carried out in the year to January 2020, 73% of people had a positive opinion of Queen Elizabeth II. She is also the most famous royal, with 99% of those asked saying they had heard of her.
Prince William (65% - down from 66%)
William is second in line to the throne and is second place in the popularity stakes. The Duke of Cambridge was apparently “hurt” and “deeply disappointed” at his brother Prince Harry’s failure to notify him before announcing publicly that he would be stepping back from royal duties.
Kate Middleton (64% - down from 65%)
The Duchess of Cambridge follows closely behind her husband on the list. As well as carrying out royal duties, she has dedicated her time to supporting a number of charitable causes and organisations in 2019, with a particular focus on mental health and children.
Prince Harry (63% - down from 68%)
The Queen’s grandson, Harry, has fallen five popularity percentage points since November, pushing him down from second to fourth in the rankings. He remains the No. 1 royal among millennials, who may be more sympathetic to his desire for independence than older, more traditional members of public surveyed.
Harry and his wife Meghan Markle (who sits in eighth place with 42% approval) released a statement in early January saying they planned to “make a transition” to “progressive” new roles within the Royal Family. After consultation with Buckingham Palace, it was decided that they would no longer carry out any royal duties, keep their royal titles, or receive public money.
The couple now live in North America, and have settled in British Columbia, reports Mail Online.
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Princess Anne (48% - up from 46%)
Princess Anne has enjoyed a boost in popularity in the past two months, possibly thanks to being spotted in leaked footage from a Nato summit appearing to poke fun at Donald Trump.
In a separate video from the same event, Anne also appeared to be told off by the Queen for not greeting the US leader and his wife, Melania - but merely shrugged in response.
What about the others?
In sixth place with a 47% popularity rating is Prince Philip, who will turn 99 years old this year. The Duke of Edinburgh had to give up driving last year after a car collision near Sandringham involving two women and a baby.
Prince Charles joins his father on 47%.
Zara Phillips and Sophie, Countess of Wessex, round out the top ten most popular list, with Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, dropping to 11th place with just 29% approval.
Unsurprisingly, Prince Andrew is at the bottom of the YouGov rankings of 15 Royals, with an 18% popularity rating. Pollsters found that just 6% of Britons believed Andrew’s account of his friendship with convicted sex offender Epstein in the infamous Newsnight interview.
Indeed, the i news site’s Andrew Johnson describes the fallout from the scandal as “the biggest crisis to hit the monarchy since Princess Diana’s death” back in 1997.
He concludes: “There is no way back into public life for the Prince, even in the event of an eventual vindication from US investigators.”