Canadians respect the Queen; divided over country’s future as a monarchy ‘for generations to come’

Canadians respect the Queen; divided over country’s future as a monarchy ‘for generations to come’

Public opinion positive on the Queen and Prince William; less so on Prince Charles

 April 18, 2016 – As Elizabeth II turns 90, the only sovereign most Canadians have ever known has earned the respect of her subjects in this country.

While the broad majority support this nation’s continued status as a constitutional monarchy under its long-reigning Queen – the same cannot be said about her heir, Charles, Prince of Wales.

According to the latest public opinion poll from the Angus Reid Institute, Canadians are more enthusiastic about recognizing the next-in-line – William, Duke of Cambridge – as head of state.

But when asked about the monarchical system, rather than individual royals, results suggest people in this country are wholly divided about the long term future of the monarchy in Canada.

Key Findings:

  • Nearly two-thirds (64%) support continuing to recognize Elizabeth as Queen. This is the majority view in all parts of Canada except Quebec – where opposition to the monarchy is much-chronicled
  • This drops to less than half Angus Reid Institute Monarchy(46%) when the same question is posed about Prince Charles as a future monarch
  • As to whether Canada should remain a constitutional monarchy over the long term, fewer than half (42%) say yes, while almost as many (38%) say no; the rest aren’t sure

Royal Attributes:

For 64 years, The Queen has been Canada’s head of state; a constant presence in a changing world.

Perhaps this is why most Canadians (67%) – asked to choose from a list of 18 words to describe her – pick “respected”, even in Quebec (53%).

The same cannot be said of heir-apparent Prince Charles, while warm feelings return a generation down the line, when Canadians weigh in on Prince William:

Angus Reid Institute Monarchy

It may be argued that most of the positive attributes chosen for the monarch reflect her longevity and perceived sense of duty: strength, hard work, ethics and influence also come to mind when Canadians think of the Queen. She is also seen as compassionate (see comprehensive tables).

Esteemed Queen Elizabeth:

It’s perhaps unsurprising, then, that most in Canada are content to continue recognizing her as their Queen and head of state. Roughly two-thirds of all Canadians (64%) support Elizabeth’s ongoing reign, a number that rises in most regions of English Canada and – inevitably – drops precipitously in Quebec:

Angus Reid Institute Monarchy

Churlish toward Prince Charles:

When it comes to public opinion, Prince Charles never really recovered from his marriage to the late Diana, Princess of Wales. The years of tension, scandal and her ultimate accidental death have been well-canvassed, and while the worst of public backlash may be behind, his subjects, whether in Canada or Great Britain, never really warmed up: consider that “boring” and “unimportant,” are the first words that come to mind about the next-in-line to the throne.

Thus, the possibility of Charles as King of Canada and head of state brings out ambivalence in respondents. Residents of most provinces are roughly evenly split on whether they would support recognizing his reign, and Quebec is more vehemently opposed:

Angus Reid Institute Monarchy

Wild about Prince William:

Given the public relations black eyes the House of Windsor received in the generation preceding him, royal courtiers are vigorously leveraging the goodwill Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge generate. Indeed, some findings of this Angus Reid Institute survey reflect a view of the prince that is not quite consistent with reality.

Take, for example, perceptions of the work-ethic of each of the three royal family members canvassed. The Queen, on the cusp of turning 90, earns highest marks from Canadians: some three-in-ten (29%) describe her as hardworking.

However, opinions of her son and grandson reveal a disconnect between doing one’s royal duty, and the public’s value of this work. Prince Charles is least likely to be viewed as hardworking (14%), despite attending 527 royal engagements – such as community functions and charity events – in 2015.

By contrast, Prince William went to 122 engagements (fewer than the 341 his grandmother attended or the 250 attended by his 94-year-old grandfather, Prince Phillip), yet was seen by Canadians as almost as hardworking as the Queen:

Angus Reid Institute Monarchy

The Canadian goodwill toward Prince William is further highlighted in support for his ascendancy to the throne and all it entails, including swearing oaths to him, putting him on national currency, and recognizing him as head of state:

Angus Reid Institute Monarchy

These findings are consistent with a 2013 Angus Reid poll in which Canadians were asked to pick their preferred successor to the Queen between Charles and William directly. Nearly half (47%) chose William, while fewer than one-in-five (18%) chose his father (the rest were either unsure, or said there should be no monarch after Queen Elizabeth II).

Women have more favourable views than men toward both The Queen and Prince William as Canada’s monarch. This gender difference is more muted on the prospect of King Charles:

Angus Reid Institute Monarchy

Monarchy less popular than Royals themselves:

Take personalities out of the equation, and views on the long-term viability of the monarchy as a Canadian institution are more tepid. Asked whether they would like to see Canada remain a constitutional monarchy “for generations to come,” Canadians are almost evenly divided. Roughly two-in-five (42%) say yes, while about the same number (38%) say it should not. The rest (20%) are unsure.

Again, Quebecers are the least enthusiastic, with just 21 per cent saying Canada should remain a monarchy, and nearly two-thirds (64%) saying it should not. In no part of the country is the monarchy as a long term institution supported by more than 55 per cent of respondents – not exactly a ringing endorsement:

Angus Reid Institute Monarchy

Despite a lack of overwhelming allegiance to Canada’s status as a constitutional monarchy, it is likely this country won’t be removing the British royal family from Canada’s system of government anytime soon. To do so would require a constitutional amendment approved by majorities in the House of Commons, the Senate, and all 10 provincial legislatures.

But if were to happen, how would Canadians like to see their head of state selected? Most are divided between favouring an appointed Governor General as head of state – but without the connection to the royal family (30%), and having the Prime Minister serve as both head of state and head of government (37%):

Angus Reid Institute Monarchy

The Angus Reid Institute (ARI) was founded in October 2014 by pollster and sociologist, Dr. Angus Reid. ARI is a national, not-for-profit, non-partisan public opinion research organization established to advance education by commissioning, conducting and disseminating to the public accessible and impartial statistical data, research and policy analysis on economics, political science, philanthropy, public administration, domestic and international affairs and other socio-economic issues of importance to Canada and its world.

Click here for the full report including tables and methodology

Click here for comprehensive data tables

Click here for the questionnaire used in this survey

Shachi Kurl, Executive Director: 604.908.1693

Tags assigned to this article: