Canadians like the Queen, but her heir? Not so much, survey says
TIM IRELAND/ASSOCIATED PRESS
A recent survey suggests that while the majority of Canadians are supportive of the Queen as the country's monarch, the same cannot be said for her heir, Prince Charles.
To mark the sovereign's 90th birthday on April 21, the Angus Reid Institute polled Canadians' on their views of the monarchy and its key players. The survey results suggest that 64 per cent of Canadians support continuing to recognize Queen Elizabeth II as sovereign, but only 46 per cent would support recognizing her heir, 67-year-old Charles, Prince of Wales – as king.
Elizabeth and her 33-year-old grandson William, Duke of Cambridge, were most likely to be described by respondents as "respected." The word most commonly associated with Charles was "boring."
The poll results didn't come as much of a shock to Gary Toffoli, executive director of the Canadian Royal Heritage Trust, which is dedicated to preserving Canada's monarchy.
"I'm not surprised that most people find 30-year-old guys more interesting than 50- or 60-year-old guys," he said – and he's not surprised that people prefer Charles's mother, either.
"The Queen has been sovereign for 64 years now. By comparison, any son, whatever Charles was like as a person, would suffer by comparison with his mother," he said. "I don't think it necessarily reflects how they might feel about him when he becomes king."
Toffoli noted that a similar situation existed before Queen Victoria's death in 1901.
Like Elizabeth, Victoria was also a long-reigning and well-regarded queen, and her heir, Prince Edward, was also generally disliked, though for different reasons than Charles. Edward, according to Toffoli, was thought of as a partier with questionable friends, and his many detractors thought he'd be a disaster as king.
However, 10 years later, by the end of his reign, Toffoli said Edward had become "a revered figure" – and that the same could happen for Charles.
The Angus Reid survey also suggests Canadians are split on whether the country should stick with the current monarchy system.
When asked whether Canada "should continue as a monarchy for generations to come," 42 per cent of respondents said it should, 38 per cent said it shouldn't, and 20 per cent were undecided or had no preference.
The respondents are part of the Angus Reid Forum, a 130,000-member panel of Canadians who participate in surveys and discussions. Angus Reid says the forum is comprised of people in each major demographic group, and respondents receive a small monetary incentive – from $1 to $5 – for completing each survey.
The polling industry's professional body, the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, says online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not randomly sample the population.
Tom Freda, director of Citizens for a Canadian Republic, said that if the survey shows anything, it's that it's time for an open parliamentary debate about ending the monarchy.
He said that given Elizabeth's age, it's a good time to have the debate, so the country isn't left discussing it while she's on her deathbed.
"This is not a behind-the-scenes issue anymore. This is now front-and-centre in the Commonwealth."
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story erroneously cited Tom Freda of Citizens for a Canadian Republic as saying it's time for a debate about leaving the Commonwealth.