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Support for the monarchy in Australia has grown, not shrunk

Prince George checks on his sister, Charlotte. Matt Dunham – WPA Pool/Getty Images

Support for the monarchy in Australia is at its highest level since the 1990s, according to the latest research into public opinion.

This surge of goodwill for the British royal family is being helped by the arrival of new royal family members and a declining number and frequency of royal scandals.

The research, published in the Australian Journal of Political Science, is based on 46 years of public opinion data on the importance of, and whether to retain, the monarchy.

There have been high profile moves this week to replace the Queen as head of state.

The newly appointed Australian of the Year, former army chief David Morrison, says he will use his new position to support the republican movement.

Also timed to coincide with Australia Day this week, premiers and territory chief ministers — except Colin Barnett in Western Australia — signed a declaration calling for an Australian head of state.

However, the latest research shows public support may not have reached a level needed to change Australia’s constitution.

In 1998, a year before the defeated republic referendum, 34% believed Australia should “definitely become a republic” but by 2013, when Prince George was born to Prince William and Kate, this had dropped to 26%. Their second child, Charlotte, was born last year.

The highest surge in support for the monarchy since 1988 was registered in the weeks immediately following Prince William and Kate Middleton’s marriage in April 2011. This is a similar level to when Prince Charles wedded Princess Diana in 1981.

All generations –- except those who were teenagers when Gough Whitlam was dismissed by the Queen’s representative, the governor general, in 1975 –- have warmed to the monarchy over time.

Since 1998, there is no statistically significant difference in opinion between those born in the 1930s and those born in the 1980s and 1990s.

Queensland and South Australia have greater support for the monarchy than other Australian states.

The research also shows European and Asian migrants were steadfastly opposed to monarchy up until 2004 but now support it.

Generally, city dwellers and males are more likely to support a republic.

“Interestingly, the monarchy has become more popular in a better educated, more affluent and less religious Australia,” says Luke Mansillo, a doctoral candidate from the University of Sydney’s Department of Government and International Relations.

This defies previous expectations that support for the monarchy would be in decline.

“Cultural events, such as royal marriages and the hype surrounding the birth of Prince George and Princess Charlotte, have fuelled many Australians’ desire to keep their monarchy,” he says.

“These events have enabled younger cohorts of Australians to develop more positive attitudes towards the monarchy and have repaired older cohort’s attitudes.”

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