As global media descend on Windsor, a majority of Brits are tuning Harry and Meghan out

Some 5,000 British and international journalists are descending on Windsor ahead of Saturday's royal wedding. But recent polling suggests that public interest is far lower than those numbers might indicate — not only in countries where the British royals have traditionally enjoyed popularity, but in the U.K. itself.

Poll suggests that while many are pleased for the couple, they're also not interested

While this woman is clearly interested in the upcoming wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, a recent poll found a full 70 per cent of Britons were not. (Emilio Morenatti/Associated Press)

If thousands of journalists show up for a royal wedding, will the world tune in to watch it?

Where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding is concerned, network executives the world over are counting on it — at least judging by the staggering number of reporters accredited to cover it.

Some 5,000 British and international journalists are descending on Windsor, including 160 photographers and 79 international networks, according to figures released today by Kensington Palace.

But recent polling suggests that public interest is far lower than those numbers might indicate — not only in countries where the British royals have traditionally enjoyed popularity, but in the United Kingdom itself.

A YouGov poll conducted May 13-14 on behalf of Huffington Post UK found that fully 70 per cent of 1,634 respondents are either "not very interested" or "not at all interested" in Saturday's wedding.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will tie the knot on Saturday at Windsor Castle. (Alastair Grant/Associated Press)

It could be the summer weather forecast for most of the U.K. this weekend, or the final game in the FA Cup, but it seems many Brits will be otherwise engaged.

Others may simply be in a league with Rihanna, who, when asked earlier this week about her attendance at the wedding, responded: "So is that really coming up? Like soon or something?"

The survey's findings echo another YouGov poll conducted right after the couple became betrothed: half of those respondents were indifferent to news of the engagement, too — despite the couple's double-dose of star power.

"It's not surprising, the level of disinterest," pollster Tanya Abraham told CBC News. "If we look at [Prince] William's wedding in 2011, the majority there weren't that interested in his wedding either."

Fewer parties planned?

Still, there is intense media interest in covering every minute detail of the upcoming wedding, though some writers have reflected the blasé mood.

"No, you don't care about the royal wedding because it's a wedding," Stuart Heritage wrote this week in Esquire. "And, as you will all be aware by now, all weddings are terrible."

Yet another YouGov survey previously done for the anti-monarchist group Republic found a similar lack of interest, and also indicated there were far fewer street parties planned for Harry and Meghan than there were for William and Kate. (Though Will is second in line for the throne, while Harry falls sixth.)

"We're not a nation of republicans yet, but we've stopped being a nation of royalists," said Graham Smith, the CEO of Republic. "We're told this weekend's wedding is a national celebration; clearly that's not true."

The anti-monarchist group also happens to be holding a convention in London on Saturday, the same day of the wedding, though Smith says they chose their date first.

According to figures released by Kensington Palace, some 5,000 British and international journalists will descending on Windsor for the royal wedding. On Thursday, military rehearsals were taking place at the wedding site. (Marko Djurica/Reuters)

According to Abraham, however, the latest findings do not automatically translate into a lack of support for the monarchy.

The overall pattern in the U.K. is oddly similar to the findings in the U.S., Canada, as well as internationally.

An Ipsos Mori survey measured interest in the British monarchy and the upcoming wedding in 28 countries and its findings suggest — again — that seven in 10 people are uninterested in news about the wedding.

The highest levels of interest in wedding-related news came from those in India, South Africa, Romania and Malaysia.

But in Canada, some 64 per cent reported they are not interested.

The survey also suggests about half the populations in Canada and Australia believe that "abolishing the monarchy would make no difference to their country's future."

YouGov's latest U.K. poll, meanwhile, says more than half of British people (55%) still believe having a monarchy is a good thing. Those most supportive tend to be over 65, tend to have voted Conservative, and are more likely to be women, said Abraham.

'Queen comes out on top'

The same survey also asked whether women marrying into the Royal Family "should or should not continue to pursue a career outside of the duties of the royal family."

Respondents were split, with 49 per cent in the "should" camp, 24 per cent opting for "should not" and the rest undecided. A higher number of young people responded that women should have an outside career.

The survey also confirms that not all royals are seen as equal. Respondents were asked to choose their favourite from a list of six: only two per cent chose Meghan Markle — the same number as Prince Charles.

Prince Harry is near the top of the list, at 18 per cent, but still a full 11 points behind his grandmother.

The main takeaway then, Abraham says, is that "the Queen comes out on top."

But she adds: "I think we will only really see in time what is the impact that Meghan has."

As to whether Canadians will be waking up early Saturday to tune into the royal wedding, it seems most won't be.  A survey of 1,484 Canadians by Forum Research found that just under two-thirds (63%) say they are unlikely to watch.

Those most likely to say they'd tune out skewed male (77%), younger (age 34 or less), and were living in Alberta (74%) or British Columbia (71%).

About the Author

Nahlah Ayed

Host of CBC Ideas

Nahlah Ayed is the host of the nightly CBC Radio program Ideas. A veteran of foreign reportage, she's spent nearly a decade covering major world events from London, and another decade covering upheaval across the Middle East. Ayed was previously a parliamentary reporter for The Canadian Press.


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