Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's popularity hits all-time low after Oprah interview

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·5 min read

Watch: UK royal crisis: 'Firm' safe for now but clouds loom

Prince Harry's popularity has sunk to its lowest-ever levels after his explosive interview alongside his wife Meghan Markle.

Harry's net favourability ratings are down to -3 according to polling from YouGov, while Meghan's score has also dropped to its lowest levels cancelling out a boost she got before the Oprah Winfrey interview was aired.

YouGov also found that support for the monarchy remains mostly intact, though there was a slight drop in support, and a bump in preference for having an elected head of state.

The poll shows 45% of Britons have a positive view of Prince Harry, but 48% view him negatively, giving him a net score of -3. That's down by 15 points since 2 March, and is the first time overall attitudes toward him have been negative.

Meghan's scores also dropped in the polling, taken of 1,664 British adults between 10 and 11 March. Three in 10 (31%) of people have a positive opinion of her, while six in ten view her negatively (58%).

That means Meghan's net score is -27, a personal low since the tracker began in 2018. The score is a drop since 2 March, when she had gone up for the first time in months, to -14.

Separately, YouGov polled 1,672 GB adults between 8 and 9 March to track support for the monarchy.

Meghan referred to 'The Firm' as she sat down to talk to Oprah about life in the royal family. (CBS)
The interview has led to a dip in popularity for the couple. (CBS)
The couple's popularity had dropped again, having slightly improved before the interview was aired. (YouGov)
The couple's popularity had dropped again, having slightly improved before the interview was aired. (YouGov)

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Support for an elected head of state as a replacement to the Crown went up by four points, to 25%.

But overall, 63% of people wanted to retain the monarchy - down from 67% in October 2020.

The most noticeable divide in both debates is along age. Young people tend to support Harry and Meghan, and support for an elected head of state is growing among 18-24-year-olds.

YouGov stats show support falling for the monarchy in the 18-24-year-old age group, down from 42% to 37% between October 2020 and March 2021.

In the same time frame, support for an elected head of state in that age range went up from 34% to 42%. However YouGov said this is within the margin of error.

There's still overall a lot of support for the monarchy, but it is dropping. (YouGov)
There's still overall a lot of support for the monarchy, but it is dropping. (YouGov)

YouGov also found the majority of 18-24 year olds (55%) like Meghan, while only a third (32%) dislike her.

It's a similar picture for Harry, as three in five Britons aged 18 to 24 (59%) have a positive opinion of him, and only three in ten (28%) dislike him.

Although overall support for the monarchy is slightly down, only Prince Charles seems to have suffered any significant personal dip in popularity since the interview.

Just under half (49%) of Britons had a positive view of Charles, 72, on 11 March, down from 57% on 2 March. The percentage of people with a negative view of him grew in the same time from 42% to 36%.

More people still think of Camilla negatively, at 46%, but that's only one point change. She saw the same drop in people who view her positively.

There was no change for the Queen, who is still viewed positively by 80% of people. Her negativity score dropped from 15% to 14%.

Watch: William defends royal family against accusations of racism

Most senior royals seem to have weathered the storm of the interview. (YouGov)
Most senior royals seem to have weathered the storm of the interview. (YouGov)

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Prince William's positive score went down from 80% to 76%, while he saw a slight increase in people viewing him negatively - up to 16% from 15%.

The Duchess of Cambridge just saw a one point change in each category, with 73% of people seeing her positively compared to 74% a week ago, and 16% viewing her negatively, down 1% from 2 March.

Experts and commentators have been weighing in throughout the week about what the interview could mean for the future of the monarchy.

The Queen reacted with a brief statement to the interview. Seen here in April 2020. (PA Images)
The Queen reacted with a brief statement to the interview. Seen here in April 2020. (PA Images)

Read more: 'History repeating itself': The striking similarities between Meghan and Diana

Speaking at an event about the future of the monarchy hosted by the Centre for the Study of Modern Monarchy on Thursday evening, Graham Smith, chief executive officer of Republic, said: "We are getting to the end of the queen’s reign and we are getting to the end of the reason for the high but shallow levels of support.

"The unwillingness to criticise the Queen is not going to be inherited by King Charles. There will be a very different threadbare looking monarchy when it’s King Charles and Prince William.

He said the interview was "extremely damaging" and had "undone some of their good work", particularly on mental health.

Smith added: "It sets the scene for an incredibly difficult decade and one I am hopeful will mean it’s hard for Charles to be succeeded by another king."

But Ben Page from Ipsos MORI said at the same event: "I’m not sure this particular episode will be fundamental... The monarchy has a way of reinventing itself."

Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie said: “The revelations from the last few days, and other recent scandals, raise serious questions about the attitudes and values of the royal family and those around them.

“They also serve as a reminder that the monarchy itself is an outdated, discredited and totally undemocratic institution.”