Six and a half months ago, Research Co. and Glacier Media asked Canadians about the monarchy.
Our annual survey gauges the perceptions of Canadians on our head of state and the constitutional present and future of the country. At the time, we summarized a dip in the favourability ratings of all members of the Royal Family, with pro-republican sentiments in Canada reaching their highest level in 13 years of polling (49 per cent).
The passing of Queen Elizabeth II bestowed Canada with a new monarch, Charles III. In our latest survey, conducted over the weekend, 46 per cent of Canadians hold favourable views of the new King. While this represents a personal 11-point increase since February, when he was still a prince and an heir, it is a significantly lower number than the favourability rating for Queen Elizabeth II (64 per cent).
There is a bounce for other royals, particularly for the newly invested Prince and Princess of Wales. Just over two-thirds of Canadians hold favourable views of both William (67 per cent, up nine points) and Catherine (also 67 per cent, up seven points). The Duke and Duchess of Sussex also experienced an improvement, with Harry at 64 per cent (up 14 points) and Meghan at 53 per cent (up nine points). Queen Consort Camilla gained five points slightly to reach 32 per cent but remains, by far, the lowest ranked royal.
The extraordinary amount of media coverage related to the Queen’s passing has transformed our views on the type of country that Canada is and could become. Some may have assumed that the push for a republic would intensify after the death of a popular monarch, but this has not happened instantaneously. The proportion of Canadians who want to have an elected head of state has dropped from 49 per cent in February to 36 per cent in September. In the same span, the camp that advocates for the preservation of the monarchy increased from 21 per cent to 31 per cent.
Just over half of Canadians (52 per cent) foresee Canada remaining a monarchy in 20 years, while 31 per cent predict a country with an elected head of state. These numbers did not change much since February, proving that, even in the face of heightened attention, the goal of constitutional reform remains both cumbersome and elusive.
Still, not everything is rosy for the new King in Canada. More than half of Canadians (55 per cent) say they would have preferred to see William ascending the throne – a sentiment that we have consistently tracked for years – and one-third (34 per cent) say they have a problem with Charles III being featured on Canada’s bills and coins.
There is a gender gap on these two questions. Practically two in five Canadian women (38 per cent) are not looking forward to seeing Charles III on the country’s currency, and 57 per cent think William is ready for the “top job” (as the late Princess Diana called it) now.
In addition, Canadians delineate two separate matters for the new monarch to attend. Almost seven in 10 (69 per cent) want Charles III to advance the cause of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, and practically three in four (74 per cent) believe he should commit to reduce the carbon footprint of the entire Royal Family. On each of these questions, sizable majorities of Canadians of all ages and regions are yearning for action.
On a separate note, Canadians are not particularly pleased with the way in which the Queen’s passing was observed and marked. More than half (54 per cent) say they would have liked to see a full holiday declared for everyone, while just nine per cent would have been content with a day off for public sector workers only. Almost three in 10 Canadians (29 per cent) would have preferred to have no holiday at all, including 34 per cent of men and 38 per cent of those aged 55 and over.
As the world prepares for life after Queen Elizabeth II, we continue to see a plurality of Canadians wishing for an elected head of state, even if the difference is not as dramatic as it was half a year ago. The favourability rating of the new monarch has increased, even if it is nowhere near the figures commanded by his predecessor. Canadians have a clear idea of what they want King Charles III to pay attention to. Just how these items are addressed in the coming months and years will be crucial for his popularity in Canada.
Mario Canseco is president of Research Co.
Results are based on an online survey conducted from September 16 to September 18, 2022, among 1,000 adults in Canada. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region. The margin of error – which measures sample variability – is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.