British polls back 'king William' amid Camilla queen debate

21st November 2010, Comments 0 comments

Most Britons want Prince William and his new fiancee Kate Middleton to be their next king and queen, leapfrogging Prince Charles and his wife Camilla to the throne, three new polls showed Sunday.

The surveys were conducted amid a wave of public support for the eldest son of Charles and his late ex-wife Diana, princess of Wales, after William announced Tuesday that he and Middleton, both 28, would marry next year.

They also come after Charles, 62, suggested in an interview that Camilla might become queen when he accedes to the throne.

It was announced when they married in 2005 that rather than queen Camilla, it was intended that she would use the title Princess Consort when Charles becomes king.

Prime Minister David Cameron waded into the debate on Sunday, saying it was too early for such decisions while suggesting there would be further discussion on the issue.

Camilla was gradually introduced to the British public as Charles' companion, in small and sensitive steps after the hugely popular Diana was killed in a car crash in 1997.

Since their wedding, she has played a low-profile but supportive role alongside Charles.

Some experts insist that whether she uses the title or not, as the wife of a king, Camilla would be de facto queen, just as she currently holds the title princess of Wales, though chooses not to use the style, preferring duchess of Cornwall -- one of Charles's lesser titles -- instead.

Asked whether he was "up for Queen Camilla", Cameron told Sky News television it was "too early for decisions".

"I think the country is getting to know her and getting to see that she is a very warm-hearted person with a big sense of humour and a big heart," he said.

"But it's too early to talk about these things and I'm sure that it will all be discussed and debated.

"It's too early for decisions about the question you ask, but am I a big royal fan? Yes. And I'm a big Camilla fan too."

Diana's death unleashed a tide of public mourning, and she retains a popularity in death which has largely been passed on to her sons William and Harry.

In Britain's mainly symbolic monarchy, the succession passes through the eldest male heir where possible, which is Charles.

Queen Elizabeth II, aged 84, is the world's second longest-reigning living monarch after Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

In an interview with US network NBC filmed in August but broadcast on Friday, Charles, 62, said he preferred not to think about becoming king as it would mean his mother would have to die first.

But when asked if Camilla would become queen if and when he accedes the throne, Charles, whose official title is the Prince of Wales, said: "Well, we'll see won't we? But that could be."

At the time of their marriage it was believed Camilla did not want to be styled queen.

Despite the popular sentiment in the polls, it is difficult to see how Charles would not accede to the throne first when Queen Elizabeth II dies, or why in practical terms it would not happen.

The News of the World newspaper's ICM survey showed that 55 percent would like William to bypass his father.

The poll of 2,015 people also found that 64 percent believed William and Middleton would be better for the long-term prospects of the monarchy, against Charles and Camilla, on just 19 percent.

In a You Gov poll in The Sunday Times, 56 percent thought William would be the better monarch against 15 percent for Charles. It surveyed 1,967 people.

A OnePoll survey for The People newspaper of 2,000 respondents found that 49 percent of people wanted William on the throne next, while only 16 percent opted for Charles.

William and his fiancee stunned Britain with the sudden announcement on Tuesday that they were engaged and would tie the knot in London in the British spring or summer next year.

© 2010 AFP

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