Police barriers have gone up, British flags have been hoisted, and soldiers have conducted late-night rehearsals around Buckingham Palace. But as preparations intensify for Saturday’s coronation of King Charles III, the one thing missing is enthusiasm, especially among young people who have grown increasingly disinterested in the monarchy.
Palace officials have tried to generate some buzz around the event with a flurry of daily announcements ranging from details of the liturgy to plans for a charity auction of 100 custom-made chairs that will be used during the service. King Charles has also commissioned several changes to the ancient ceremony at Westminster Abbey to involve more young people and modernize some of the rituals.
The activity reflects a growing awareness within the Royal Family that the 74-year-old King and 75-year-old Queen Consort face a huge challenge staying relevant to younger generations.
“King Charles has found himself inheriting the crown at a time when support for the monarchy appears as low as ever,” said John Curtice, a pollster and professor of politics at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. In a recent report on the monarchy for London-based think tank UK in a Changing Europe, Dr. Curtice added that “the future of the monarchy under King Charles and his heirs will rest on their ability to persuade new generations of the value of the crown.”
King Charles III’s coronation in 12 questions
Several recent opinion polls have pointed to growing apathy among young people toward the monarchy.
In a survey of 3,070 adults by the polling firm YouGov, 75 per cent of respondents between the ages of 18 and 24 said they cared very little or not at all about the coronation. Another YouGov poll of 4,592 adults for the BBC found that 78 per cent of young people weren’t interested in the Royal Family whatsoever. And a survey of 11,000 adults released this week by the Daily Mail showed that three-quarters of respondents 65 and over would vote to keep the monarchy in a referendum, but 34 per cent of 18-to-24-year olds would opt for a republic and almost 40 per cent said they didn’t know or wouldn’t vote.
Dr. Curtice said there have always been age differences in attitudes toward the monarchy and in the past people tended to become more supportive as they got older. But that age gap has been widening, he said, and the difference is now the largest ever recorded. “The monarchy may look secure for now, but the foundations of its public support need some reinforcement.”
Jay Patel, a 21-year-old student at Toronto’s Seneca College, didn’t know much about the coronation and rarely paid attention to the Royal Family until this week, when he received an invitation to the ceremony.
Mr. Patel has been invited as one of the 2,300 guests in Westminster Abbey by the Canadian branch of the Prince’s Trust, a global charity that has long been associated with King Charles. A Prince’s Trust program helped Mr. Patel land a job as a cook at Toronto’s CN Tower after he came to Canada from India in 2021.
“I’m excited,” he said about his unexpected trip to London. “It’s not every day that you get a chance to go to a coronation.” He added that he has been reading up on the ceremony and the royals and like most of his friends doesn’t have strong views about the monarchy or whether it should continue. “I don’t have any comment on that.”
This will be the third major royal occasion in less than a year, after Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral last September and her Platinum Jubilee celebration last June. And if the number of street parties that have been organized is any indication, the public has grown weary. There were about 16,000 parties held across Britain during the Jubilee, but so far just 3,400 community events have been arranged for the coronation long weekend, according to government figures.
The British government has been trying to boost interest among schoolchildren in both the ceremony and King Charles.
The Department of Culture, Media and Sport has commissioned a short film to help students understand “the importance of the coronation, the role of the King, and the significance of the monarchy around the world.” Department of Education officials have also distributed lesson plans to teachers to instruct children about the history and importance of the coronation.
Elena Woodacre, a historian and founder of the Royal Studies Network, said the death of Queen Elizabeth left a deep impression on many people. The coronation will be an opportunity for King Charles to renew the monarchy’s connection to the public, but there could be a mixed, or muted, reaction. “People do feel differently about Charles than they did about Elizabeth, there’s no doubt about that,” she said.