Church and State

The recent Royal Wedding, between Prince William and Catherine Middleton (now the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge), gave rise to extensive opinion polling on the subject of British attitudes to the monarchy, and a few of these surveys touched on issues of Church and State.

One such was the Harris Interactive Royal Wedding poll for the Daily Mail, undertaken among an online sample of 1,029 adults aged 16 and over in the UK on 20 and 21 April 2011.

This included two relevant questions, both omitted from the newspaper’s publication of results on 23 April but subsequently released by Harris as tables 14 and 15 of the complete data at:

Middleton’s confirmation into the Church of England on 10 March, in a private service conducted by the Bishop of London at St James’s Palace, was the topic of the first question.

Her decision to seek confirmation may have been prompted in part by her recognition that her husband-to-be would be a future Supreme Governor of the Church of England.

52% of respondents in this Harris study ‘mostly supported’ Middleton’s confirmation, 11% ‘mostly opposed’ it, and 37% were unsure what to think. The high proportion of ‘don’t knows’ is characteristic of surveys on Church and State.

Approval of her confirmation peaked at 66% among the over-55s and also exceeded three-fifths in the Midlands and Wales. Opposition was highest (18%) among those aged 16-24, with 42% of this same cohort supportive and 40% undecided. Women (56%) were somewhat more in favour than men (49%).

The second question explored views on the establishment of the Church of England. 41% agreed with it, almost three times the number who disagreed (15%), with 44% neutral. Northern Ireland excepted (where only 10 people were interviewed), hostility to establishment never rose above 23% in any demographic sub-group.

At the same time, the over-55s (56%) were the only sub-group which registered an absolute majority in favour. The status quo of an established church in England is thus underpinned by a combination of positive public endorsement on the one hand and acquiescence/indifference on the other.

For other recent poll data, on the continuation of the monarch’s Supreme Governorship of the Church of England and of the bar (under the Act of Settlement 1701) on Roman Catholics or persons married to a Catholic acceding to the throne, see our previous posts at:



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