Coronation of Charles IIIYoung Britons wonder about the monarchy
The 18 to 24 year olds are the most critical of the British monarchy. Only 24% of them thought Charles would do a good job as king, although his popularity was only increasing.
“Old-fashioned”, “not charismatic”: The new King Charles III. is significantly less popular than his mother Elizabeth II with young Britons, some of whom want a more modern monarchy. At a trendy Soho pub in central London, the death of Queen Elizabeth II is not preventing the younger generation from enjoying their Saturday nights, although the news that rocked the country on Thursday is never far away.
“I really can’t wait to have Charles as king,” loosely about the music Joseph Curran, 28, before wearily adding, “But what’s the alternative?” Less tenderly, Lucie, 29, is “impatiently” hoping he will be “the last” monarch in the UK. At 73, Charles on Thursday became Britain’s oldest monarch to begin his reign, which doesn’t exactly help his young subjects.
According to a poll published by YouGov in May, just 29% of 18-24 year olds believe Charles would do a good job as king, making them far more critical than all other age groups who hold him great for the majority. In a poll released on Tuesday after the Queen’s death, Charles won 17 points from young people but still failed to convince the majority. A ranking conducted in the second quarter of 2022 shows that he is among the royal figures least loved by millennials. They favor Kate, 40, and her husband, Crown Prince William, who are second and third, right after the Queen. Charles is in 12th place.
“Ups and downs”
Questionable ? “He doesn’t exude the same energy as the Queen in his speeches,” enthuses Sam, 21. Other youngsters evoke a “controversial” image – revived by the “racism allegations” made by Meghan Markle, wife of Prince Harry, against the royal family – a “lack of charisma” or even his side “old-fashioned”. “Of course, after 70 you don’t wield the same easy charm as you did in your 30s or 40s,” says royal expert Richard Fitzwilliams. “Being young and glamorous makes a difference,” but not directly passing it on to the next generation “That’s not how the monarchy works,” he told AFP.
Brits’ relationship with Charles “has had its ups and downs,” he admits, largely due to the “disastrous end of his marriage” to the hugely popular Diana and his affair at the time with Camilla Parker Bowles. Charles then married Camilla in 2005. However, the British are sensitive to this amorous obstinacy: little by little its popularity is increasing. Charles has recently been “enormously respected for his work with associations,” adds the expert. “He may be old-fashioned in some ways, but his record is remarkable.”
As president or benefactor of more than 420 associations, Charles has notably worked with his foundation to help two million young people in difficulty. But above all the many years of ecological commitment appeal to young people. “His voice could have a real impact on our politicians,” said Connor Adams, who saw Charles as a “gentleman” who, at 22, hadn’t seen the Diana years.
“Not My King”
However, will this shared interest be enough to reconcile some young Britons with the monarchy when they are far less interested in maintaining it than their elders? According to a June YouGov poll, 18-24 year olds were just as likely to want an elected head of state (31%) as they were to remain in a monarchy (33%). With the Queen’s death on Thursday, the internet has seen hashtags like “#NotMyKing” (editor’s note: #PasMonRoi) picked up in more than 63,000 tweets.
However, the idea of a republic is far from convincing. “I’m a strong supporter of republicanism, but a British version would be a disaster!” considers Joseph Curran and rather hopes that Charles “reduces the role of the monarchy after the Spanish or Danish model”.
“We need to preserve what the Queen has been working on,” said Nick, 32, who is committed to “the values” of the monarchy, although he too wants it to “develop”. Regarding Charles: “I wasn’t optimistic,” he says, “but after hearing him speak for the last few days, I’m a little bit more!” The young people’s opinion “could change given Charles’ ‘good start’ change,” believes Mr. Fitzwilliams. “Let’s see what happens next because he’s off to a really good start!”
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