Royal Tab: Vast majority don’t want to pay costs associated with the Sussexes’ move to Canada

Royal Tab: Vast majority don’t want to pay costs associated with the Sussexes’ move to Canada

One-in-four Canadians say Royal Family is less relevant today, 41% say it has no relevance at all

January 15, 2020 – The bombshell news that Prince Harry and his wife Meghan – the Duke and Duchess of Sussex – were not only seeking to partially quit the Royal Family but also take up part-time residence in Canada may have set the hearts of monarchists and celebrity watchers aflutter, but that doesn’t mean Canadians are eager to subsidize the couple’s living costs when they’re in the country.

The latest public opinion survey from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute finds that the prince’s personal popularity does not extend to great enthusiasm over the royal couple’s expected relocation. Nor do Canadians care to pay for his and his wife’s security and other expenditures associated with their stated intention to spend at least part of the year in Canada, while “stepping back” from official duties. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of Canadians say “no thank you” to the prospect.

This study also finds that while respect and affection for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is broad-based and strong, Canadians may be at a crossroads over the country’s future with the crown as head of state.

Indeed, two-thirds (66%) say the House of Windsor is losing or has lost relevance, while nearly half (45%) say Canada should not continue as a constitutional monarchy for generations and generations to come. That represents an increase in this point of view from a similar study four years ago. The revelations come at what the Queen herself refers to as a “bumpy” time for her family, and scandals and public conflict worthy of a TV drama rather than real life rock the royals.

More Key Findings:

  • Paradoxically, Prince Harry is the most personally popular member of the Royal Family among Canadians; 69 per cent view him favourably. However, he and his uncle, the disgraced Prince Andrew, are also most likely to be viewed as celebrities rather than working royals
  • Quebecers are most likely to say they’ll be “upset” if the Sussexes take up part time residence in Canada (17%). But like millions across the country, the main reaction of people in la belle province in ennui: more than half (56%) say they “don’t care”
  • There is little consensus over what, if anything, might replace the monarch as Canada’s head of state. Just over one-quarter (27%) say the prime minister should become head of state, while one-in-five (19%) say the head of state should be the Governor General, but without ties to Britain

About ARI

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 foundation 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.



Part One: Harry and Meghan

  • Many Canadians captivated by Royal quarrel

  • Most, however, don’t care if Harry and Meghan settle in Canada

  • Seven-in-ten say Canada shouldn’t pick up any of the costs

Part Two: The rest of the Royal Family

  • Canadians still love the Queen, less favourability for Prince Charles

  • William and Harry – royal representatives or celebrities?

  • Few offer favourable view of Prince Andrew

Part Three: Future of the Monarchy

  • Two-thirds say royal family losing or has lost relevance

  • Most happy to continue recognizing the Queen

  • But what about when she’s gone?

    • Plurality would prefer not to remain a constitutional monarchy

    • If not a monarchy, then what?

Part One: Harry and Meghan

Many Canadians captivated by Royal quarrel

Royal watchers were taken by surprise last week when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, announced – without consulting the Queen – that they would be “stepping back” from their positions as senior royals. The couple, who recently spent time vacationing in British Columbia, say they want to work toward “financial independence”, and split time between Britain and North America. The expectation is that the North American part of their residence will be in Canada.

Canadians are watching closely. Asked if they have been following these events, 70 per cent say yes. Older Canadians are much more engaged in the latest machinations of the monarchy than younger ones:

Half don’t care if Harry and Meghan settle in Canada

Voracious consumption of the royal twists and ripples reaching local shores doesn’t mean people in this country are particularly invested in what happens. Canadians were asked how they would feel if the couple did, indeed, end up spending considerable time in Canada.

The most common response, from half of respondents (50%), was that they ultimately do not really care. Those with an opinion are considerably more positive than negative. Two-in-five (39%) say that they would be pleased to see Harry and Meghan spending time in Canada, while just one-in-ten (11%) say that they would find this upsetting.

The Prince and his bride have spent considerable time in Canada. Markle lived in Toronto for the better part of seven years during her time working as an actress on the television show Suits. More recently, the couple spent six weeks vacationing on Vancouver Island. Neither of those regions profess any greater adoration for the royals. Residents of Quebec are particularly negative about their potential time here in the future. Bloc Quebecois leader Yves-Francois Blanchet said publicly on January 14 that his province should not have to pay any costs associated with their security.

Seven-in-ten say Canada shouldn’t pick up any of the costs

Regardless of where they live, most Canadians agree with Blanchet. Despite reports from a paper in the United Kingdom indicating Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had already agreed to pay for Harry and Megan’s security costs during a call with the Queen, Finance Minister Bill Morneau has said that no decision had been made on the matter.

For their part, Canadians are less than enthusiastic about the prospects of footing the bill for any costs that may come as a part of the royals’ living arrangements. In fact, seven-in-ten (73%) say that they would prefer Canada not pitch in any money. For one-in-five (19%), some cost sharing is appropriate, while only a handful of Canadians would willingly pay for all costs (3%):

Notably, this view is consistent across demographic groups including age, gender or region or political preference (see detailed tables for more).


Part Two: The rest of the Royal Family

Canadians still love the Queen, less favourability for Prince Charles

On February 6, 2020, the Queen will have been Canada’s head of state for 67 years. As Canada and the world have changed, her presence has been constant and reliable. It is not surprising then, that Canadian views of Queen Elizabeth II have been largely positive in recent years.

In 2016, an Angus Reid Institute poll showed the most common word chosen to describe her was “respected”. In 2020, a year where she will turn 94, two-thirds of Canadians (67%) view her favourably. Quebec is a notable exception to this sentiment.

This favourability stands in stark contrast to her heir to the throne, Prince Charles, for whom just 39 per cent of Canadians hold a favourable opinion. Meanwhile, the Queen’s grandsons, Prince William and Harry have similar favourability to the Queen’s. Age demographics drive public opinion. Canadians 55 years of age and over hold considerably higher opinions of nearly all members of the royal family:

William and Harry – royal representatives or celebrities?

The two members of the royal family who garner the most worldwide attention are undoubtedly Prince William and his younger brother Prince Harry. The daily movements of each and their wives – Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle – are feverishly documented by tabloids. Both couples have had a stormy and litigious relationship with media. While each is view favourably by a comfortable majority of Canadians, there are interesting differences in perception between the brothers.

Asked whether they view each as a monarchical representative or more of a celebrity personality, Harry is viewed as a celebrity by a much larger group. This may be due his earlier days of partying with famous celebrities or his more recent marriage to Markle, an actress. Whatever the reasoning, nearly half of Canadians consider Harry more of a celebrity, while just 18 per cent say this of William. The Queen and Prince William are most likely to be viewed as representatives of the monarchy, while Prince Andrew, who has recently stepped down from royal duties due to allegations of sexual assault, is also viewed primarily as a celebrity and not as a representative of the family.

Part Three: Future of the Monarchy

Two-thirds say royal family losing or has lost relevance

If the media coverage and discussions of Harry and Meghan’s departure is any indication, there is still a healthy appetite for global gossip when it comes to the royal family. That said, as an institution in Canadian life, most in this country say the royal family has lost relevance. In fact, while one-in-five say the royals are less relevant now than they have been previously, 41 per cent say they feel the monarchy is completely irrelevant now.

There are certain populations who consider the royals more relevant. Half of women between the ages of 35 and 54 (49%), say the royals are personally relevant to them. The same can be said for two-in-five women 55 years and older (41%). Majorities of men across all age groups disagree:

Most happy to continue recognizing the Queen

If the royal family is indeed losing relevance, the situation may deteriorate further after Queen Elizabeth II dies. In addition to her high favourability among Canadians, most also prefer to continue to recognize her as head of state while she is alive. The proportion saying this is close to unchanged from 2016:

But what about when she’s gone?

The next in line for the throne is Prince Charles. When Canadians were asked to choose which how they would describe him in 2016, ‘boring’ and ‘unimportant’ topped the list. This helps explain current lower support for Canada remaining a constitutional monarchy under Charles. Just 43 per cent of Canadians say they would prefer to recognize him after the Queen dies. As for Prince William, a majority (58%), say they would recognize him as Canada’s head of state:

Plurality would prefer not to remain a constitutional monarchy

More generally, Canadian desire to remain a constitutional monarchy appears to be fading. In 2016, residents were split evenly about Canada’s future relationship with the Crown. Two-in-five (42%) wished to continue with the current arrangement for generations to come, while nearly the same number (38%) said that Canada should forge a new path. Now, those proportions have flipped. A greater number of Canadians now say they would prefer to end the traditional relationship (45%) and no longer be a constitutional monarchy:

Regionally, British Columbians are most likely to resist changing the current system. This is the case for a majority in most regions, though Quebecers are starkly opposed to continuing on with a constitutional monarchy:

If not a monarchy, then what?

The Queen, as Canada’s monarch, is the head of state for this country (and 15 other nations of the Commonwealth). The Queen appoints, on the advice of the Prime Minister, a Governor General, who in turn performs a number of parliamentary duties, including opening a new session of parliament.

Those who wish to remain with current monarchical arrangement largely point to tradition (31%) or pride in being a member of the commonwealth (52%) as their primary motivations. Notably, older Canadians are much more likely to take pride in being a part of the commonwealth, while younger ones evidently think it would just be too much of a pain to change:

Meanwhile, there are a number of different arrangements that opponents to the current system prefer. The most popular choice for replacing the Queen as head of state would be to imbue these powers under the Prime Minister (27% choose this). Another 19 per cent say that Canada should continue to have a Governor General but that the ties to Britain should be severed:

For detailed results by age, gender, region, education, and other demographics, click here.

To read the full report, including detailed tables and methodology, click here.

Click here to read the full questionnaire used in this report.

Shachi Kurl, Executive Director: 604.908.1693 @shachikurl

Dave Korzinski, Research Director: 250.899.0821