CHARLES has taken over as king at a time when support for the monarchy has fallen to a “new low”, Professor John Curtice has said.

However, since 1994, the clear majority of UK adults has said that having the royal family is either “very” or “quite” important.

The Strathclyde University expert analysed decades of polling on the royals from the British Social Attitudes survey – conducted by the National Centre for Social Research – for an article on The Conversation.

Curtice concluded that support for the monarchy rose or fell with events happening around it.

Highs and lows in support for the monarchy

The professor noted how the number of people saying the monarchy was “very important” had hit record highs of 46% in 2012 – following the Queen’s first ever trip to the Republic of Ireland the previous year.

The Queen also made headlines in 2012 after shaking the hand of former IRA commander Martin McGuinness – as well as making a splash on the world stage with a James Bond sketch at the London Olympics.

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At the time, 33% of people said the monarchy was “quite important”, while just 14% and 10% said it was “not very” or “not at all important/abolish” respectively.

Curtice said that the record highs in support for the royals around this time may have come as the monarchy “was seen to be proving its diplomatic worth”.

Conversely, in 2021, the polling found that the number of UK adults saying the monarchy was “not at all important/abolish” had reached record highs of 25%.

The same survey found that 18% of people thought the monarchy was “not very” important, while 31% and 24% said it was “very” or “quite” important respectively.

Curtice said this “new low” might be reflecting the furore around Prince Andrew paying a reported £12 million to avoid going on trial for allegations of having sexually assualted a minor, and the split in the royal family evidenced by Harry and Meghan’s withdrawal to North America.

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Support for the monarchy also dipped in 1997 in the wake of Princess Diana’s death – with the proportion that thought it was “very important” to have a monarchy falling below 30% for the first time.

“The royal family’s initial response to Diana’s death had attracted considerable criticism and this was considered a very difficult moment for the institution,” Curtice noted.

The politics professor went on: “The successes and problems of the royal family affect how much people value the institution. King Charles has inherited the crown at a time when support for the institution of the monarchy has fallen to a new low.

“Meanwhile, until now people’s views will have been influenced by their perceptions of the late Queen herself. Future public support for the monarchy may well rest heavily on King Charles’s ability to prove a worthy successor.”

How will Charles serve as king?

The National:

King Charles may struggle to reach the high levels of popularity which the Queen enjoyed before him. Polling from YouGov in late 2021 found that the then heir to the throne was viewed positively by 60% of the public, compared to 33% who viewed him negatively.

This is compared to the Queen, who at the time was viewed positively by 83% of the public and negatively by 12%. William and Kate enjoyed similar levels of popularity to the late monarch, recording 80% and 77% positive perception respectively, and both being viewed negatively by 13% of the public.

Ahead of his accession, Charles was also attacked by figures in the right-wing press after comments he had made condemning the Tory government’s Rwanda deportation policy were reported.

However, perceptions of his ability to serve well as king have shot up following the Queen's death, according to further YouGov polling.

Does the attitude to the monarchy vary with age?

Professor Curtice said the fact that young people will consistently rank the monarchy as less important than their elders could be a “potential achilles heel” for the monarchy.

However, the polling expert found that, from 1994 to 2021, the age variations in support for the monarchy had remained “much the same”.

“The relative stability of the age gap reflects the fact that the older they become, the more likely people are to feel it is ‘very important’ to have a monarchy,” he wrote.

What about in Scotland specifically?

Curtice’s analysis did not break down the polling by nation or region, instead looking at attitudes across Britain as a whole.

However, a poll reported in May of this year from the think tank British Future found that only 45% of people in Scotland said they wanted to keep the monarchy, with well over a third saying the end of the Queen's reign would be the right moment for Britain to become a republic.