Harry and Meghan are more unpopular than ever before, new poll shows

·4-min read
LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 09: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex meets children as she attends the Commonwealth Day Service 2020 on March 09, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
Public opinion of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex comtinues to decline in the UK (Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

Positive opinion of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex continues to decline in the UK, a new survey appears to show.

It has been a turbulent few months for the Sussexes and it seems their recent forays into the public eye are not going down well with the majority of the public.

Prince Harry has seen a decrease of nine points in popularity, from 43% in April to 34% now, while Meghan has also seen a further decline in her public rating, with positive opinion falling from 31% in March, to 26% now.

The data, published by national polling body YouGov, showed that age is a dividing factor when it comes to what Britons think of Harry and Meghan. The Sussexes prove most popular amongst the young, with those aged between 18 and 24 split over Harry (47% positive vs 44% negative) and tend to think positively of Meghan (50% vs 40%). 

By contrast, only 13-18% of people aged 65 and over think of the couple positively.

The figures were published after presenter Piers Morgan was cleared by Ofcom over on-air comments he made about Markle.

Journalist and television presenter Piers Morgan reacts as he takes his daughter Elise to school, after he left his high-profile breakfast slot with the broadcaster ITV, following his long-running criticism of Prince Harry's wife Meghan, in London, Britain, March 10, 2021. REUTERS/Toby Melville
Piers Morgan was cleared of any wrongdoing by Ofcom for his comments about Meghan Markle following Sussexes interview with Oprah Winfrey (REUTERS/Toby Melville)

The TV presenter left ITV's Good Morning Britain in March after he sparked a record number of complaints by saying he did not believe claims made by Meghan about her mental health in an interview with Oprah Winfrey.

The comments sparked more than 57,000 complaints to Ofcom, including from Meghan and Harry themselves.

The broadcasting regulator ruled on Wednesday that Morgan, 56, was "entitled to say he disbelieved" the royal couple and that "the restriction of such views would be an unwarranted and chilling restriction of freedom of expression".

Morgan's claims came after an interview between the pair and US host Oprah Winfrey was broadcast in Britain.

In the Oprah interview, Meghan said she had approached people in the royal “institution” for help after she had suicidal thoughts, but was turned down.

Britain’s Prince Harry and his wife Meghan wave as they ride a horse-drawn carriage after their wedding ceremony at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle in Windsor, Britain, May 19, 2018. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Harry and Meghan married in Windsor Castle in May 2018, but soon after left the UK in search of a quieter life (REUTERS/Damir Sagolj)

In May, Markle won a court battle against the Mail On Sunday and the MailOnline when a judge ruled there would be no "realistic prospect" of a trial not going her way.

She was fighting a claim by the two news outlets, published by Associated Newspapers Ltd (ANL), that she was not the sole author of a letter sent to her father, and therefore that it was not her copyright alone that had been breached when extracts of it were printed in the paper and online.

How popular are the royals?

The Queen continues her reign as the most popular royal family member, with 80% of the public holding a positive opinion of the monarch, closely followed by the second in line to the throne, Prince William.

Watch: Royal family 'worried' about reconciling with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

William proved more than twice as popular (78%) as brother Harry. 

Half of the public currently take a positive view of Prince Charles (54%).

However, what will remain of concern to those who support the monarchy is that the majority of those backing the royals are of the older generation. The coming years could prove challenging as the family tries to remain relevant.

The data also suggests the majority of senior royals experienced an increase in popularity in April during a wave of sympathy following the death of Prince Philip. 

The Queen's second son, Prince Andrew, remains the least popular royal family member. 

Some 83% of the public have a negative opinion of him, compared to only 6% who think of him positively.

Andrew retired from Royal duties in May 2020 six months after a disastrous interview with BBC Newsnight about his friendship with disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein.

A YouGov poll has showed that Meghan and Harry's popularity is consistently falling in Britain, but Andrew remains the least popular member of the Royal family (YouGov)
A YouGov poll has showed that Meghan and Harry's popularity is consistently falling in Britain, but Andrew remains the least popular member of the Royal family (YouGov)

The Duke of York failed to apologise for the friendship he had with Epstein, who took his life in prison while awaiting trial for sex trafficking offences.  

The Duke has now been accused of sexual abuse in a lawsuit

Accuser Virginia Giuffre has started legal action against the Duke of York for allegedly sexually assaulting her when she was under 18, two decades ago.

"It is long past the time for him to be held to account," the civil suit stated.

Prince Andrew has previously “categorically” denied he abused Giuffre. A spokeswoman for the duke said “no comment” when asked to respond to the suit.

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