King Charles’ coronation will draw protests. How popular are the royals, and do they have political power?

London — Protests against the British monarchy have been planned around the United Kingdom for May 6, the day of King Charles III’s coronation ceremony. The anti-monarchy group Republic, which wants the king replaced as the official head of state by an elected official, is either organizing or promoting rallies in England and Scotland to coincide with the coronation.

“Hereditary public office goes against every democratic principle. And because we can’t hold the King and his family to account at the ballot box, there’s nothing to stop them abusing their privilege, misusing their influence or simply wasting our money,” Republic says on its website. “A head of state that’s chosen by us could really represent our hopes and aspirations — and help us keep politicians in check.”

Britain Commonwealth Day
Protesters hold placards with the message “Not my king” before Britain’s King Charles III arrives to attend the annual Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey in London, March 13, 2023.

Frank Augstein/AP

The group is asking people to gather in central London wearing yellow on May 6, and to carry signs with slogans such as “not my king” and “abolish the monarchy.”  

Another group, called Our Republic, is also organizing a protest in Edinburgh, Scotland, on coronation day.

How popular is the royal family?

Younger generations in Britain are less supportive of the monarchy than older ones, with a recent poll showing that 70% of people in the country between the ages of 18 and 35 are “not interested” in the royals.

As part of that poll, CBS News’ partner network BBC worked with polling organization YouGov to ask a representative sample of people whether Britain should “continue to have a monarchy, or if it should be replaced with an elected head of state?”

Of respondents between 18 and 24 years old, 38% said the U.K. should have an elected head of state, 32% said it should continue to have a monarchy, and 30% said they didn’t know.

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Support for the monarchy increased with people’s ages: 48% of respondents between 25 and 49 years old said Britain should continue to have a monarchy, while 78% of people over 65 said the monarchy should continue.

Does the royal family have any political power?

The United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy, meaning that while King Charles III is officially the head of state, the ability to pass legislation lies exclusively with an elected parliament.

The British monarch’s role is politically neutral by definition, but the sovereign can “advise and warn” his or her ministers — including the country’s prime minister — if and when they deem it necessary, according to the royal family’s own website.

Buckingham Palace notes that while “the Sovereign no longer has a political or executive role, he or she continues to play an important part in the life of the nation.” That part includes acting as a “focus for national identity, unity and pride,” according to the palace.

Get a unique look at King Charles, as close friends, confidantes and ex-lovers share stories on the man behind the crown. Stream the documentary, “King Charles: The Boy Who Walked Alone,” starting Tuesday, May 2, exclusively on Paramount+.

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