Jamie Morton

Jamie Morton is science reporter at the NZ Herald.

NZ backs William for next king

The photogenic Prince has three times more support than his father.

Prince William, with his wife, Kate arrive in the Solomon Islands. Photo / AP
Prince William, with his wife, Kate arrive in the Solomon Islands. Photo / AP

Kiwis would rather skip Prince Charles and have his camera-friendly son as their next king, a Herald-DigiPoll survey shows.

The survey of 750 people last month found 61 per cent put their support behind Prince William - three times the support that heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles enjoyed.

But Monarchy New Zealand still wants Charles to wear the crown next.

"New Zealand is entitled to change its order of succession and it could do that tomorrow if it wishes, but I think we would be better served leaving it as it is," said the group's chairman, Sean Palmer.

He believed Charles would bring far more experience to the position, and New Zealanders shared his environmental interests.

The poll also showed about 55 per cent wanted New Zealand to stay in the Commonwealth, against 29 per cent keen for the country to become a republic after the Queen died.

"We are not wildly concerned by those numbers, and it's nice to see such a large block of the country can immediately answer, 'Of course we stay a monarchy'," Mr Palmer said.

The recent surge in media interest in the royal family, fuelled by last year's royal wedding, the Queen's diamond jubilee celebrations and the London Olympics, had boosted their popularity.

Mr Palmer said the appeal of the Queen's grandchildren - whom he described as media-friendly, young and good looking - was "more glamorous" than the previous generation.

He saw the overall poll result as a "clear indication" of New Zealand's interest in the royals.

"Everyone knows if you can put a picture on the front page of your newspaper, you're going to sell more, and sure some of it may be prurient stuff as we are seeing at the moment.

"When Charles is here in November, there'll be a picture of him on the front page of the Herald, I'm sure, and you'll see a spike in sales for the newspaper."

But Lewis Holden, chairman of the Republican Movement of Aotearoa, believed the appeal would wane during Charles' reign.

"What [the poll] reflects is the stage of the debate we are at, more than anything - 61 per cent support Prince William, but only 55 per cent support the monarchy."

He compared the results to those of a 1999 Herald-DigiPoll survey, which found 70 per cent of respondents wanted to retain the monarchy.

"We've had the royal wedding and the jubilee, and it hasn't taken the monarchy back to the level of support they saw 10 years ago ... It's still languishing around the 50 per cent mark.

"Support for a republic has drifted down a little, but when you look at the figures, it's still about a third."

- NZ Herald

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