In turbulent times, many Britons see the monarchy as something enduring and providing stability. Over half of us see it as something we can be proud of. While Brexit has dominated the headlines in 2019, the private lives of the Royals have given it a run for its money.
The Royals have had their fair share of headlines this year, most recently with the scandal surrounding Prince Andrew’s friendship with Jeffrey Epstein, but also focus being put on Prince Harry and his wife the Duchess of Sussex, known to many as Meghan Markle.
The tabloids led the charge in their critique of Harry’s new wife, and legal intervention by the couple came in response. Perhaps the Duchess will take some solace in knowing that, according to new Ipsos MORI polling, nearly half the British public (43%) think she is the most unfairly treated Royal by the media.
One of the many media stories about the couple this year was the exposé about the cost of their renovations at Frogmore Cottage – reported to have cost £2.4 million of public funds. The media went to town on the expenditure, encouraging uproar during a period of austerity.
The Queen may, however, be interested to see that our research shows there is continued support for the expense of the monarchy, with just three in ten Britons saying that the Royals are an expense we cannot afford, while nearly half (43%) of us disagree. That said, just one in ten Britons can accurately guess the cost of the annual Sovereign Grant, with the majority guessing lower than the £82 million figure granted in 2019.
A more pressing issue for the Royal Family is the media storm surrounding Prince Andrew. As we go to press he has stepped back from royal duties, but our long-term trends suggest that the family has weathered many a storm in the past and it looks likely this one (although it may shake the foundations) will also pass – or be limited to the reputational damage of an individual, rather than that of the institution of the Monarchy as a whole.
When millions are being spent on renovating properties, and potential scandals appearing in their private lives, the Royals have to work hard to offset this with their PR and charitable activities. So, which of the Royals is balancing this best in 2019?
The work of the younger Royals has been part of a massive shift in Britain in normalising discussions about mental health, as they discussed their feelings after losing their mother. Public awareness and concern has doubled since their intervention, and the Government has pledged more resources.
Despite media attention around his spending since his engagement, Prince Harry is seen as the most in touch with the ordinary man or woman on the street, according to 32% of us. Followed by the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton (28%), cited for her Halloween shopping in Tesco and rewearing her high street wardrobe.
Only one in ten people view the Queen as in touch with the masses, but then how many 93-year-olds are? And, whether it’s true or not, it does little to impact our feelings about her, as she remains the most popular Royal.