Shropshire Star

Support for monarchy endures, but young less interested

Streets festooned with bunting, shops decked out with flags. Regulars at The Crown have spent the weekend partying, but ominously, The King's Head is shut for business.

Master butcher Rob Medley

A riot of colour and pageantry, Bridgnorth is a town that has spent the weekend in the grip of coronation fever. But when the flags and ribbons are taken down, the bunting put back in the box, what does the future hold for the world's most famous monarchy?

Two new polls last week present a mixed picture for the future of the Royal Family. While both point to a clear majority still in favour of an hereditary monarchy, confidence in its long-term future is much less certain.

According to polling organisation YouGov, almost eight out of 10 people aged over 65 supported the monarchy, compared to just 32 per cent for those aged 18-24. Moreover, 38 per cent of young people said they preferred an elected head of state, while the remaining 30 per cent were unsure.

If the mood of the people in Bridgnorth is anything to go by, perhaps the 30 per cent who were undecided is particularly significant. Certainly, younger people appear to be less interested in the institution compared to their parents' and grandparents' generations. But equally, their opinions appear to be much less strong and more fluid. The attitude of the young appears to be largely one of indifference.

Thomas Lendrum and Tom Salthouse

At the appropriately named Royle Bar, 26-year-old Tom Salthouse is working behind the bar, while his 52-year-old mother Sue Iddles is waiting on the tables.

"I don't really care," says Tom. "I can see the benefits, with tourism, Buckingham Palace, and all that. But I don't think they do a lot.

"I think I would prefer to vote for whoever is in power, but at the same time we do elect our parliament."

"The problem is, you never know 100 per cent if you are going to get good people in the Royal Family, so the safest way is to vote them in."

Sue Iddles: "I love the Royal Family"

By contrast, mother Sue is a staunch monarchist who loves the pomp and pageantry that goes with the institution.

"I love them," she says. "I just think it's about the tradition."

Sue is confident about the future of the monarchy, and believes it will evolve to appeal more to the younger generation.

"After Charles it will be William, he has more connection with young people," she says.

Tom's bar colleague Thomas Lendrum, 23, also has few strong feelings one way or the other.

"I don't really know much about it," he says. "I have always gone along with it, but really I'm too busy working."

Does he think the monarchy will be around 50 years from now, when he will be approaching the King's age?

"I think so," he says. "As a nation we are quite strongly attached to it. It has been with us for years and years. I think it has the potential to still be around in 50 years."

Elizabeth Williams is a strong monarchist

Sitting in the window of the Royle is staunch monarchist Elizabeth Williams, 65, who moved to Bridgnorth from her native Scotland six years ago.

"I like the tradition," says the retired nurse. "I also think it brings a lot of money into the country. I certainly appreciate it.

"I think the younger generation is against it, but you can rebel a bit when you are young.

"I think they might change their minds when they get older – I hope they do."

Tom Weaver and Ash Johnson broadly support the monarchy, but paid little attention to the coronation

Sat opposite on raised bar stools are Tom Weaver and Ash Johnson, both 34. For them, all the anticipation seems to have largely passed them by.

"I'm not really that bothered about it," says Tom, a commercial manager who lives in the town.

When pushed, he says he is broadly in favour of the monarchy, believing it is preferable to having an elected head of state.

"I quite like it," he says. "I think it's quite traditional, and I like the history behind it. I like all that stuff."

Ash, who has returned to his home town for a wedding, having emigrated to Australia, agrees.

"It's fine, it serves its purpose," he says. "It brings the tourists in."

Across the road in Whitburn Street is Mike and Sarah's Butchers, which has been decked out in bunting for the special occasion. Master butcher Rob Medley, 39, says he is very much in favour of keeping the royals.

"For many people the coronation is a once-in-a-lifetime event, but I'm hoping to see more than one," he says.

"I'm not a massive royalist, but I still think they have a role to play, I still believe in them."

Like many pro-monarchists, Rob says he likes the history and tradition that goes with the Royal Family. But he says he can understand why the younger generation is less interested.

"I can see where they are coming from," he says.

"A lot of those young people have only seen scandal after scandal in the Royal Family."

Retired GP Dr Dawn Powick from Cleobury Mortimer

Buying a coronation pie is Dr Dawn Powick, a retired GP from Cleobury Mortimer.

The 67-year-old is in favour of the monarchy, and believes that King Charles will bring it more up to date.

"He's got some very good ideas," she says. "If you look at his campaigning on climate change, he was well ahead of his time."

Paul Bartlett, from Dudley, supports the monarchy, but believes Charles should have stepped aside for his son

Walking along Whitburn Street, past the shops and houses decked out with flags, ribbons and posters, is 75-year-old Paul Bartlett.

The retired glass-cutter from Dudley is firmly in favour of the monarchy, but believes Charles should have stepped aside to allow his son William to take the throne.

"I'm slightly older than Charles, and I wouldn't want to be taking that responsibility on," he says.

"I don't think you should be taking on roles like that once you pass 65."

Paul says that while many young people are in favour of a republic, he believes their attitude may mellow as they get older.

"As you get older, you get a bit more savvy," he says.

"Just imagine having someone like Trump, Macron or Biden, someone who half the country hates.

"You have to keep the state separate from politics. The problem is, a lot of people don't know their history."