A MAJORITY of the British public believe Prince William would make a better king than Charles, according to a YouGov poll for The Sunday Times.
Most people also think the Prince of Wales should stand aside for his son.
Only 15 per cent think Charles would make a better king, while 56 per cent preferred William, who last week announced he is to marry his girlfriend Kate Middleton.
Asked directly whether Charles should make way for William to become king when Elizabeth II dies, 44 per cent said he should, 37 per cent said he should not.
The views are part of a broader perception that the monarchy has an opportunity to renew itself by skipping a generation when the Queen’s long reign comes to an end.
An overwhelming majority believe it is right for William, 28, to marry a woman who does not come from royal or aristocratic lineage. Two-thirds of people think that by marrying a commoner William will help to make the monarchy more “relevant” in the modern world.
If Elizabeth, who has been Queen since 1952, lives to a similar age to her mother, Charles could be nearly 80 by the time of succession. He is not regarded as having a popular touch, nor are the public enamoured of his second wife, Camilla. Few support the idea, floated by Charles last week, that she could be Queen if he succeeded to the throne.
William and Kate enjoy strong popular support and embody the prospect of change. There is widespread approval for what one senior Buckingham Palace insider described as a “historic but modest” wedding.
The royals recognise that the public mood during a time of economic stress is in favour of a royal spectacle but on a less extravagant scale than Charles’s marriage to Lady Diana Spencer in 1981.
A senior royal source said: “They are keen the public share in the day and share in the excitement and it is a wonderful, joyous day for the nation. It is not going to be a small family affair.
“However, William is very mindful of the economic situation. We are not talking of a repeat of 1981.”
The survey findings support the palace’s judgment. Half those questioned said William and Kate should have a more modest wedding than Charles and Diana. Nearly 70 per cent said Charles should pay for it, with only 5 per cent saying the taxpayer should foot the bill.
William and Kate have chosen Westminster Abbey, rather than St Paul’s Cathedral, for their ceremony. The palace source said: “It’s a relatively small public space to manage from start to finish.”
Reports that up to 8,000 guests might be invited to a “people’s wedding” were dismissed yesterday.
“There are likely to be fewer guests than at Charles and Diana’s wedding,” said the palace source.
About 3,500 were invited to the wedding in 1981. Nevertheless, William and Kate are believed to want invitations to the wedding to extend beyond heads of state and titled dignitaries.
“They are keen that people from different walks of life should have a chance to take part,” said a source. The public, in turn, are keen that Kate should remain involved in life outside royal duties.
Some 45 per cent said she should continue to work at a “normal job” after she becomes a princess.
Until now she has helped at her parents’ mail-order firm. Only 38 per cent believe she should devote herself full time to royal duties.