Four out of five Britons remain firmly royalist, but nearly 60 percent think Queen Elizabeth II should step down to allow her eldest son Prince Charles to become king, according to an opinion poll published this week.
The Gallup Poll, published in The Daily Telegraph newspaper, reported 82 percent of those questioned said they were in favor of the British monarchy, just 14 percent wanted it abolished and the rest expressed no opinion.But 59 percent said they thought the 62-year-old queen should "retire" early, allowing 40-year-old Charles to become king.
Because of the disgrace surrounding the abdication in 1936 of the queen's uncle King Edward VIII, later the Duke of Windsor, in order to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson, the queen has said she will never abdicate the throne.
This could mean a long wait for Charles. His great-great-grandfather, King Edward VII, had to wait until he was 59 before he succeeded to the thone in 1901 on the death of his mother, Queen Victoria, at age 81.
Charles, whose concern for the poor, homeless and what he regards as the uglier aspects of modern architecture have won him widespread public support, heads the list of most popular royals, according to the poll. It said 21 percent of those questioned said Charles was their favorite.
A 75-minute television documentary made by the prince attacking many modern buildings as ugly was screened by the British Broadcasting Corp. on Oct. 28. A newspaper survey at the time said 75 percent of Britons agreed with him.
In this week's poll, 19 percent of respondents said Elizabeth the Queen Mother, Charles' 88-year-old grandmother, was their favorite; 17 percent favored his 38-year-old sister Princess Anne; 12 percent liked his 27-year-old wife, Princess Diana, best; and 11 percent liked the queen most.
Despite the overwhelming support for the monarchy, 40 percent of presondents said they thought the $9.45 million in taxpayers' money paid last year to support the royals was too much.
The queen, one of the world's richest people, has a personal fortune estimated earlier this year by the London business publication Money Magazine at $6 billion. But she and some other royals also receive an annual grant of taxpayers' money.