It’s no secret that the royal family is eternally popular: crack open any celebrity magazine, and you’re sure to find their faces smiling back at you. But each prince, princess, duke, and duchess isn’t equally as beloved by the public. YouGov tallied their opinions to create a top-ten list of most popular English royals – and that roster might surprise you.
It has, as always, been a headline-grabbing year for the Royal Family, who has seen a lot of change in their ranks since New Year’s Day. At the start of 2020, Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, made a shocking announcement that they’d be stepping back from their duties as members of the Windsor clan. But they did so without first consulting with the Queen, a move that led many to condemn their choice.
Harry and Meghan left the U.K. for the U.S., where they felt they could give their son a public scrutiny-free upbringing. And they started a charitable outpost throughout which they could continue helping others. That’s par for the course for the royals, though, and the rest of them continued their activism and acts of goodwill on British soil.
Other family members had once-in-a-lifetime milestones, too. Princess Beatrice, for one, got married to Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi in a surprise July ceremony. The same year marked Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip’s 73rd wedding anniversary as well. And the royals lent their support to the public as they went through the tumultuous events of 2020 too.
At the end of it all, YouGov tallied public opinion on the adult royal family members. They analyzed which age groups – Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials – preferred which princes, princesses, dukes, and duchesses. They gathered data from the British public to figure out who they liked best – and who didn’t make the top ten might surprise you. Spoiler alert: don’t expect to see Princess Eugenie, Princess Beatrice, Prince Edward, or Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall on the list.
YouGov ranked Sophie, Countess of Wessex, as the tenth-most popular royal, as determined by the British public. Sophie is married to Prince Edward, who is the Earl of Wessex and Viscount Severn. When his father passes away, he will become the Duke of Edinburgh, making his wife a duchess.
The public who ranked Sophie, Countess of Wessex as their tenth-favorite royal described her as loyal, admirable, a good role model, attractive, and in touch with the average Brit, according to YouGov. Indeed, she has dedicated her life to full-time service of the royal family, supporting several organizations and charities.
Sophie has only continued her service in 2020, which could have to do with her appearance on the top-ten list. In November, for example, she spoke as part of the Women Mediators across the Commonwealth Network. When the royal family posted a photo of her orating, compliments flooded in from social media users. One wrote, “Love how the Countess of Wessex works quietly behind the scenes with no fuss and bother. She is a marvel.”
Coming in at number nine is a royal family member who had the opposite experience to Sophie, Countess of Wessex. The unending scrutiny of the British press pushed Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, and her husband, Prince Harry, to leave their royal posts in January 2020.
In spite of her and her husband’s shocking decision to leave the family and the U.K., Meghan still ranked ninth on YouGov’s list of the most popular royals. Those who voted in support of the American duchess described her as attractive, beautiful, charming, confident, and admirable.
Perhaps nothing Meghan has done in 2020 embodies these qualities quite like an opinion piece she wrote for The New York Times in November. In it, the Duchess of Sussex revealed to the world that she had suffered a miscarriage, writing about the “unspeakable grief” she and Prince Harry felt as she “clutched [her] firstborn child, that [she] was losing [her] second.”
The public lauded Meghan for opening up to the world about such a painful experience in spite of the royal family’s usual stiff upper lip. Midwife Sophie King told style magazine Harper’s Bazaar, “Her honesty and openness has sent a powerful message to anyone who loses a baby: This may feel incredibly lonely, but you are not alone…”
Still, Meghan’s transparency wasn’t enough to push her up the ranks in popularity, according to YouGov. Ahead of the Duchess of Sussex on the list is Princess Anne’s only daughter: Zara Phillips. Brits will know that she is an accomplished equestrian, competing for her home country at the 2012 Olympics – and taking home the silver medal.
The public say they like Phillips so much because of her talent, as well as for her likeability, accomplishments, and genuine personality. Plus, they say, she’s a good role model. That reputation could have a lot to do with her Olympic experience, which has paved the way for her career as a racecourse director and unofficial promoter of Great Britain’s equestrian team for the next global games.
Next up on the list is the seventh-most popular royal family member, who happens to be the third-most famous of them all. Ninety-nine percent of all those surveyed by YouGov have heard of Prince Harry, and 42 percent of them have a positive opinion of the fire-haired son of Princess Diana.
Those who told YouGov that they liked Prince Harry had a slew of kind descriptors for him. They described him as fun loving and humorous, as well as confident, likeable, and admirable. He proved the most famous with Millennial participants, who actually ranked him as their fifth-favorite royal overall.
Of course, 2020 was a decisive – and divisive year – for Prince Harry. He and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, made the unexpected decision to step down from their royal duties. He pinned the decision on the British press, saying he wanted to protect his family – and nearly a third of the public strongly supported that choice, according to a separate YouGov survey.
The quieter life he sought brought Prince Harry, Meghan, and their son, Archie, to Montecito, California. From there, the royal couple will work on their next venture, which could raise their standing in next year’s poll. They signed a deal with Netflix to produce everything from kids’ shows to documentaries for the streaming platform.
It’s almost hard to believe that Prince Harry doesn’t land higher on the list – or at least higher than his father, Prince Charles. In the past – even earlier in 2020 – YouGov found Harry to be much higher in the public opinion. Yet he slid downward by 19 points and proved less popular than his father, who also lost seven popularity points over the course of 2020.
Still, Prince Charles enjoys high popularity with voters who are close to his own age group. The Baby Boomers had a 54-percent-positive opinion of the future king, while Generation X ranked him their eighth-favorite royal. Only 40 percent of that voting group said that they had a favorable view of him.
What YouGov has yet to explore is how Prince Charles’s reputation has improved – or suffered – because of his fictionalized portrayal on the Netflix show The Crown. Its fourth season hit the streaming service in 2020, and it portrayed his relationship with his first wife, Princess Diana – and it did not paint him in a very positive light.
We’ll have to wait until 2021’s YouGov poll hits the internet to see if that portrayal affects Prince Charles’s position. For now, though, he’s sixth on the list, one spot behind his father. Yes, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, garnered a 50-percent-positive opinion from the British public in 2020.
To earn his fifth-place position on the list, Prince Philip clearly charmed those who voted in the YouGov poll. They described the Duke of Edinburgh as admirable, hard-working, loyal, humorous, and entertaining. And they said all of that even though the Prince stepped away from the spotlight in 2017, when he announced his retirement from royal duties.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the age group most likely to support Prince Philip was, of course, the Baby Boomer generation. They had a 56-percent-positive view of the royal, as compared to 54 percent of Generation X and a mere 38 percent of Millennials who looked favorably upon the 99-year-old.
Next on the list is Prince Philip’s second-born child with Queen Elizabeth: Princess Anne. She likely landed in fourth place due to her longstanding dedication to charity work. The reigning monarch’s only daughter has made health and transportation links in developing areas, as well as the education of children, into her royal causes.
Like her daughter, Zara, Princess Anne went to the Olympics for equestrianism, making her the first royal to do so. But it’s not just her horseback-riding child to whom the princess is famously similar. She has a strong bond with her father, too – some say she’s his favorite of his four children with the Queen.
So it makes sense that Anne would land so close on the list to her father, Prince Philip. Fifty-seven percent of YouGov survey respondents had a positive opinion of her, describing the 70-year-old princess as admirable, hardworking, strong, and committed, as well as a good role model.
Nearly ten points ahead of Princess Anne on in the YouGov survey was a woman that 93 percent of survey respondents had heard of – and 66 percent of them liked. The lady in question, of course, was Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, whom you might refer to as Kate Middleton.
The third-most famous royal family member is admirable, beautiful, attractive and genuine, according to her fans who spoke to YouGov. As such, Catherine’s popularity transcends her own age group, which we haven’t seen much on this list of results. While Millennials have a 61-percent positive opinion of the Duchess of Cambridge, nearly three-quarters of Baby Boomers see her in a favorable light.
Perhaps Kate’s decidedly positive reputation stems from her dedication to her charitable endeavors. The future Queen of England has made early childhood education a focus of her public work. She aims to improve the lives of little ones, as well as teachers, parents, and caregivers.
Throughout it all, Middleton manages to make herself relatable to royal watchers the world over. Although, as we mentioned, she’s the future Queen of England, she’s also a mom of three children: George, Charlotte, and Louis. So, when a fan asked her how to manage toddler tantrums, she answered frankly, saying she’d like to know that answer herself.
Someone else who’s likely handling toddler tantrums these days is Kate’s husband, Prince William. He bested his wife on the list of the most popular English royals, earning a 73-percent-positive opinion from those who participated in YouGov’s 2020 survey. Meanwhile, a mere 9 percent of them had a negative opinion of the future king.
William’s appeal grows with each age group, if you look at them in an ascending order. Millennials’ positive opinion of the future king hover at 65 percent. Seventy-two percent of Generation X sees him in a favorable light. And then there are Baby Boomers, 84 percent of whom like the Duke of Cambridge.
Prince William earned his place in the hearts of the British public by being genuine, responsible, and likeable, according to the YouGov survey. Participants also described the future king as being admirable and a good role model – great news, considering he’s a father of three.
We can only imagine William’s star will continue to rise as he inches closer and closer to the British throne. Not only that, but experts say that he and his wife, Kate, have made it clear that their children will start participating in more royal engagements. Who won’t like the future king even more when they see him interacting with his adorable brood?
Even with the perfect popularity storm brewing for Prince William, he’s still not the most popular member of the royal family. He’s still five points behind the matriarch and monarch who’s the public’s favorite in all surveyed age categories: Millennials, Generation X, and Baby Boomers.
Queen Elizabeth II has had decades to cultivate her spotless image in the eyes of the British public. The country has already begun planning her platinum jubilee for February 2022, a celebration that will mark 70 years on the throne. Already, she is the longest-reigning monarch in her country’s history.
Over the years, Queen Elizabeth has become not only the most popular royal, but the most famous in her family too. The public has a wealth of generous descriptors that they apply to their monarch too. Among them are admirable, respected, dignified, hard-working, and dedicated, according to the YouGov poll.
No one knows what the future holds for Queen Elizabeth and her continuing reign over the U.K. Some believe that she will hand over the reins to her son, Prince Charles, sooner rather than later. This will make her king, but won’t remove her from her royal standing, of course.
And that means that Charles and the rest of the royal family will have to work hard to usurp Queen Elizabeth II and take her place in the eyes of the British public. For now, though, there’s hardly any competition – she’s the most famous member of the family, and she’s the most beloved one too.