Younger Canadians royally indifferent to tour, poll shows
OTTAWA—The youthful royal newlyweds might be the best hope to revitalize the monarchy with some fresh-faced glamour and enthusiasm, but a new survey suggests younger Canadians are largely indifferent to the upcoming visit.
More than half of young Canadians between 18 and 34 expressed indifference as one of the feelings they associate with the pending visit of William and Kate, according to an Angus Reid Public Opinion poll commissioned by the Star.
That compares to 37 per cent Canadians over the age of 55, and 43 per cent of those 35-54 who feel the same way about the visit, which begins Thursday when Prince William and Catherine — the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge — lay a wreath at the National War Memorial in Ottawa.
“(Younger Canadians) are less engaged with the monarchy,” said pollster Jaideep Mukerji, vice-president of Angus Reid. “It’s not to say that they don’t have favourable views of Will and Kate in particular, but compared to older Canadians, they’re really much more indifferent to the visit and the monarchy in general.”
The same age gap appears when it comes to who kept a close eye on the royal wedding earlier this year, with 6 per cent of Canadians in the youngest age group saying they followed news stories about the event “very closely,” compared to 23 per cent of those aged 55 and up.
“Is it something that as people get older they have a greater appreciation for the monarchy, or are we seeing a sort of generational change here, where it’s not so much characterized by an antagonism toward the monarchy but rather an indifference?” asked Mukerji.
“It’s not necessarily as relevant to Canadian history as it was in the past.”
That does not mean young people are clamouring to do away with the monarchy altogether.
Fifty-three per cent of the younger age group disagreed with the idea that Canada should sever all ties with the British monarchy and 43 per cent disagreed with the idea of abolishing institutions like the governor general.
The bigger divide on that issue falls along linguistic lines.
Sixty-four per cent of French-speaking respondents said they agreed with the idea of severing ties with the monarchy and 74 per cent of them agreed with getting rid of the governor general role or the lieutenant-governor of Quebec, compared to 25 per cent and 31 per cent, respectively, of English-speaking Canadians.
There is also a higher level of indifference — or more negative feelings — toward the royal tour in Quebec, where a militant separatist group has said it will protest the couple as they visit the capital.
Sixty-five per cent of Quebec respondents said they felt indifferent to the royal visit, compared to 44 per cent of the general population.
Nine per cent of Quebecers even said they felt anger toward the visit, which was triple the percentage of Ontarians who said they felt that way.
Still, Canadians expressed an overall favourable view toward William and Kate, with the son far surpassing his father, Prince Charles, and even his grandmother, the Queen.
Seventy-four per cent of Canadians said they had a mostly favourable opinion of William, with 68 per cent feeling the same way about the Queen — the same level of support for the Duchess of Cambridge — and just 32 per cent holding a mostly favourable opinion of Charles, who is next in line to the throne.
Prince William and his new bride may also still be the best hope to reinvigorate the monarchy in the eyes of Canadians, with 47 per cent of survey respondents preferring he be the one to take the throne, compared to the 18 per cent who would rather it go to his father as planned.
There are also 23 per cent of respondents who would rather it remain empty.
The online poll of 1,001 randomly selected Canadian adults was done Saturday to Monday. The margin of error is 3.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.