Harry and Meghan's popularity falls in America after incendiary Oprah interview, poll shows

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·5-min read
Meghan referred to 'The Firm' as she sat down to talk to Oprah about life in the royal family. (CBS)
Meghan and Harry sat down to talk to Oprah about life in the royal family. (CBS)

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are less popular in the US than before their interview with Oprah Winfrey, polling shows.

Both of the royals lost several points in their favour according to polls and picked up more detractors.

Harry is also more popular in the US than his wife Meghan Markle, despite it being her home nation.

YouGov US and The Economist polled more than 1,400 Americans after the explosive interview the royal couple did with Winfrey, to see how it affected their popularity.

Of those polled, 54% said they had a very or somewhat favourable opinion of Prince Harry, while 26% had a very or somewhat unfavourable opinion of him, giving him a net score of 28.

By contrast, the poll showed that 48% of people had a very or somewhat favourable opinion of his wife Meghan, and 33% had a very or somewhat unfavourable opinion of her, giving her a net score of 15. 

But that's down by more than 10 points, compared to a few weeks before the interview, when YouGov US polling showed Harry had a net rating of 39 and Meghan of 28. 

The new poll, taken between 13 and 17 March, showed one of the biggest divides was along voter lines. Among supporters of Joe Biden at the last election, 44% said they had a very favourable opinion of Meghan, but only 10% of Donald Trump voters said the same thing.

Nearly half, 45%, of Trump voters, said they had a very unfavourable opinion of the duchess.

That does not come as a big surprise, as Meghan was outspoken against Trump before she became a royal, and Trump has recently said he hopes she runs for president, so that he can run against her.

Diana, The Princess Of Wales Takes Her Sons, Prince'S William, And Harry Out On The Boat
Diana is still one of the most popular royals in the US. Here with William and Harry on Maid of the Mist at Niagra Falls in 1991. (Julian Parker/UK Press via Getty Images)

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Prince Harry had a similar divide, with 48% of Biden supporters saying they had a very favourable opinion of him. A further 32% of Biden voters said they had a somewhat favourable opinion of him.

The poll also asked whether people supported the decision by Harry and Meghan to step back from their roles as senior royals, with 61% of people saying they supported them.

By contrast only 11% said they opposed them stepping back. 

However 31% of respondents said they had no sympathy at all for them stepping back, compared to 17% who said they had a lot of sympathy for the decision.

The polling was undertaken after the couple's interview with Winfrey and is one of the first in depth looks at the impact of the special programme in the US, which Harry, 36, and Meghan, 39, are making home. Only 13% said they had watched the entire interview.

Similar polling was carried out in the UK, where Harry and Meghan's popularity fell to its lowest ever levels after the interview.

Harry's net favourability ratings were down to -3 according to YouGov, while Meghan's score was at -27.

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The Queen, 94, remains one of the most popular royal figures in the US, polling 61% favourability, compared to 19% in ratings of those who don't have a favourable opinion of her.

Her son Prince Charles, 72, heir to the throne, had just a 32% favourability score, with 44% of people saying they had an unfavourable opinion of him, either somewhat or very.

Prince William, 38, is fairly popular, with 54% holding a favourable opinion of him, and 20% an unfavourable one.

His wife Kate, 39, is close behind, at 52% favourability and 19% unfavourable.

But one of the most popular royals in the US is the late Princess Diana, who died in 1997.

Of those polled, 66% had a somewhat or very favourable opinion of her, while only 10% had an unfavourable opinion of her.

Her favourability was fairly evenly split across metrics like income and region, but more women had a very favourable opinion of her compared to men, at 51% of women and 32% of men.

Older people were more likely to have a very favourable view of the late Princess of Wales, with 52% of those aged 65 and over choosing that option compared to 21% of those aged 18-29. 

WINDSOR, UNITED KINGDOM:  In this undated image released on March 6, 2021, Queen Elizabeth II walks past Commonwealth flags in St George's Hall at Windsor Castle, to mark Commonwealth Day, in Windsor, England.  (Photo by Steve Parsons - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
The Queen, here in St George's Hall at Windsor Castle in a Commonwealth Day photo is still hugely popular in the US. (Steve Parsons - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

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Despite him stepping back from his royal duties and being accused of failing to cooperate with US authorities, Prince Andrew, 61, still polled a very favourable opinion with 6% of the respondents. A further 18% had a somewhat favourable opinion of him.

The second son of the Queen was given an unfavourable rating by 38% of people.

Those polled were also asked if they thought the US should have a monarchy - with a majority saying it would be a bad thing.

More than two in three (68%) of people thought it would be a bad thing, though when asked about whether it was good or bad for the UK to have a monarchy, 45% of people said it was neither good nor bad.

Slightly more people thought the royals were good role models, at 18%, compared to 15% who thought they were bad role models. But 49% of people said they were neither good nor bad.

The fallout from Harry and Meghan's interview with Winfrey is continuing in the UK and globally, though the Royal Family has tried to return to business as usual.

Princes Charles and William have been out on engagements with their wives since the interview, with William briefly defending his family while at a school in east London. 

The palace statement on behalf of the Queen said the issues raised in the interview would be dealt with privately.

Watch: Prince William is worried anything he says to Harry will end up on TV