With all eyes on the Duke and Duchess of Sussex following their recent invite to King Charles’s coronation, a new study shows that millions of Brits will snub the live ceremony if the couple are among the guests.
The study, by streaming service WatchTVAbroad.com, reveals that a fifth (21%) will be less likely to watch the events from Westminster Abbey on May 6 should Harry and Meghan appear — with nearly one in eight (12%) prepared to switch off entirely.
The couple, who reportedly received a “save the date” email from King Charles’s office earlier last week, have proved incredibly divisive with the public since choosing to step down from official duties.
A recent YouGov poll showed — apart from Prince Andrew — Meghan was the most disliked member of UK royalty, while Harry has drawn criticism for the personal revelations he shared in his autobiography Spare.
The WatchTVAbroad study revealed that among 2,000 respondents, men were generally less sympathetic to the Sussexes, with nearly a quarter (24%) viewing their appearance at the coronation as a negative, compared with 18% of women. Meanwhile, 13% of men said they would definitely shun the TV broadcast if the couple were among the guests, with one in ten women agreeing (10%).
Perhaps out of loyalty for the current and previous Prince of Wales, viewers in Cardiff were the biggest critics of Harry and Meghan, with a third (33%) claiming their appearance would put them off witnessing the crowning of King Charles III, and 23% vowing to miss it altogether.
Over-55s most unforgiving
The over-55s were the most unforgiving age group when it came to the couple, with 15% refusing to watch the ceremony if they showed up and one in four (25%) seeing it as making them less likely to tune in.
Even among dedicated royal viewers, dislike for the duke and duchess had an impact upon some viewing plans, with one in twelve (8%) of those who’d watched all of the Queen’s funeral ceremony saying it would be enough to make them veto the coronation.
However, good news for the couple was the strong backing they received from younger age groups. Nearly half of those aged 16-24 (43%) and 25-34 (47%) said they would be more inclined to follow the events from Westminster Abbey if the Sussexes were present, compared with 29% across the UK.
“With less than two months until the King’s coronation, speculation about the Sussexes’ appearance has so far overshadowed all other build-up,” said Jeff Richey, TV analyst at WatchTVAbroad.com.
“While the ‘will they, won’t they’ drama is another intriguing chapter in Harry and Meghan’s life outside the firm, it’s clear that the couple have a real Marmite factor for UK viewers,” said Richey.
“This latest research shows that even some dedicated royal watchers will be reaching for the remote if the duke and duchess appear on their screens,” he added.
“However, the younger generation are much more sympathetic to the couple, which could be significant as they pursue new media opportunities.”