June 15, 2018
Nearly 30 million people in the United States watch Britain’s Prince Harry marry American actress Meghan Markle on May 19—a bigger audience even than the 23 million who tuned in to the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011, ratings giant Nielsen reported the next day. The numbers merely reinforce what we all already have known: Americans have a love affair with Britain’s royal family.
That makes sense, based on a poll conducted by Ipsos in advance of the nuptials, which found that Prince Harry tied with Queen Elizabeth II in terms of their popularity (23%) among 1,000 respondents worldwide. Other members of the royal family followed closely behind in the poll of 28 nations—among them, the Duchess of Cambridge (the former Kate Middleton) at 18%, Prince William (17%), Prince George (10%), Princess Charlotte (9%) Prince Charles (8%), the former Meghan Markle (8%), and Prince Philip (5%).
Indeed, on balance, perceptions of the royal family are favorable in most nations—but especially in Romania (51%), Saudi Arabia (45%), India (38%), and the United States (36%). The only countries in which Ipsos registered a negative net rating were Spain (at -2%) and Argentina (-8%).
The poll’s most surprising results came from the question “Do you think it would be better or worse for your country in the future if it had a constitutional monarchy like Britain instead of an elected head of state?” Only 36% of Americans felt comfortable answering “worse” to that, while 11% said “better.”
“There is a persistent royalist temptation in America,” National Review commented on May 22, adding, “Not in the sense of any tangible movement to enthrone a king, of course, but in a more subtle and psychological sense. A pernicious impression, spread by a certain sort of cosmopolitan type, holds that the monarchy question was something the Founders simply got wrong in 1776 — along with the Electoral College, the Second Amendment, etc.—cursing Americans to a lifetime of envy of more ‘enlightened” nations.’
Americans are similarly ambivalent about whether the British monarchy should be abolished. While only 15% believe that Britain would be “worse” for jettisoning the royals; just 12% think the country would be “better” if the Windsors were put out to pasture.
Finally, while Americans love the royals, they also seem to have a general fondness for the British public. In a study commission by British Airways a few years ago, as many as one-third of 1,000 Americans interviewed “love Britain and everything about it”—except for the “terrible” weather.
The Daily Mail, which reported on the study, said, “In the eyes of people from the other side of the pond, UK residents ‘speak properly,’ sound really clever and are also extremely polite.” Three in ten Americans said the UK is their favorite country—and one in seven said they would move to Britain, if they had a chance.
Research contact: Gideon.Skinner@ipsos.com