The past 12 months have been among the most turbulent for the British royal family in decades - but has that hit their popularity?
From Prince Philip’s car crash and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s falling-out with the press to the row over Prince Andrew’s links to Jeffrey Epstein, 2019 has been a “royally disastrous year”, says author and biographer A.N. Wilson in an article for the Daily Mail.
However, public polls suggest there is still strong support for the Windsors. Here are the UK’s favourite figures in the family, according to data from YouGov.
The Queen (72% positive opinion)
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 from November 2018, 72% of people had a positive opinion of Queen Elizabeth II.
Prince Harry (68%)
The Queen’s grandson, Harry, is in second spot overall with a 68% rating, and is the No. 1 royal among millennials. Wilson says the “war against Britain’s free press” launched by Harry and his wife is “unwise”, but a public survey last month found that only 14% of people opposed the couple’s recent legal action against The Mail on Sunday - and more than half (53%) supported the move.
Prince William (66%)
William may be second in line to the throne but he is in third place in the popularity stakes. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s latest tour, to Pakistan last month, was widely seen as a great success.
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Kate Middleton (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 Philip (52%)
Wilson notes that the year got off to a bad start with the Duke of Edinburgh’s car crash near Sandringham, involving two women and a baby - and that the Royal took “a long time to apologise”. But that hasn’t stopped the Queen’s husband from making the top five.
What about the others?
In sixth place with a 48% popularity rating, Prince Charles narrowly beats Princess Anne and Meghan Markle, who are tied on 46%. However, the Duchess of Sussex did come top in a survey on which member of the Royal Family is treated least favourably by the media. Two in five people believed Meghan bore the brunt of the press’s negative stories.
Zara Phillips and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, round out the top ten most popular list.
Unsurprisingly, Prince Andrew is at the bottom of the YouGov rankings of 15 Royals, with a 19% popularity rating. Pollsters found that just 6% of Britons believed Andrew’s account of his friendship with convicted sex offender Epstein in a recent 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 - giving his older brother the opportunity to tighten his grip on the future direction of the monarchy.”